Happy New Year & A Wrap On 2021

Written by Michael Larabel in Phoronix on 31 December 2021 at 03:49 PM EST. 13 Comments
It's now another year in the books and in just six months and a few days will mark 18 years since starting Phoronix.com and 14 years of developing the public, open-source Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software.

Happy New Year to all Phoronix readers. That's a wrap on 2021 but bright and early tomorrow morning will be kicking off the start of next year's original content.

This year on Phoronix were 206 featured Linux hardware reviews / multi-page benchmark articles and another 2,791 original news articles... 99% of which were written by your's truly. It was also another year of having new content each and every day of the year -- keeping up that tireless trend since 2013. It was though another difficult year given the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of the ad industry and ad-block usage, etc, and all that's involved to make ends meet.

As a reminder, there is a end-of-year deal to join Phoronix Premium to enjoy the site ad-free, multi-page articles on a single page, etc. That deal technically expires tonight but if you don't get in on time until this weekend, I'm still happy to honor it through the weekend.

While that's it for the planned content today, the evening shall be spent cleaning/organizing the benchmarking lab to prepare for next year's hardware launches.

Happy new year and here's to a brighter 2022! Below is a look at the most popular content on Phoronix for 2021.

Intel Core i5 12600K / Core i9 12900K "Alder Lake" Linux Performance
With the Intel 12th Gen Core processors shipping today along with the new line-up of Z690 motherboards, the review embargo lifts for talking about these Intel "Alder Lake" processors. While by now you've likely heard a lot about Intel Alder Lake on Windows and various leaked benchmarks with Windows 11, how does these processors with the new hybrid architecture work and perform on Linux? Here are the initial benchmarks and support information for Intel's Core i5 12600K and Core i9 12900K processors under Ubuntu Linux.

The Framework Laptop Is Great For A Linux-Friendly, Upgradeable/Modular Laptop
While many Linux users were excited years ago around EOMA68 and in part the possibility of an open, upgradeable laptop design, it has yet to ship and looking like it never will -- not to mention being very outdated specifications by today's standards. Entirely unrelated to that prior upgradeable hardware effort but continuing in similar goals is The Framework Laptop. The Framework Laptop is a thin, upgradeable notebook that is Linux-friendly and allows the user to easily upgrade their own components. I was testing The Framework Laptop for a while and from the hardware perspective is a very nice device and running well under Linux.

Windows 11 Better Than Linux Right Now For Intel Alder Lake Performance
While we are used to running AMD and Intel benchmarks between Microsoft Windows and Linux while most often finding that our favorite open-source operating systems normally lead the race from desktops through HEDT and server platforms, when it comes to the Core i9 12900K "Alder Lake" that is currently not the case. Going into this round of Windows vs. Linux testing quite curious given some Intel hybrid architecture oddities we have been seeing under Linux, indeed when hitting Windows 11 and an assortment of Linux distributions with benchmarks we were left disappointed. Not only did Windows 11 come out faster overall, but related is now Linux also had much higher run-to-run variance due to the mix of P and E cores with Thread Director not making the wisest choices under Linux.

Intel UHD Graphics 770 / Alder Lake GT1 Linux Graphics Performance
Published yesterday was the Core i5 12600K / Core i9 12900K Linux review looking at the exciting performance uplift provided by Alder Lake. One of the areas only talked about briefly in yesterday's article were the UHD Graphics 770 found with these new desktop processors, due to time constraints with only having a few days so far for carrying out tests. Today the initial batch of UHD Graphics 770 / ADL-S GT1 Linux graphics/gaming benchmarks have wrapped up to show how the Intel graphics performance compares to prior generation Rocket Lake as well as AMD's Ryzen 7 5700G.

DDR4 vs. DDR5 Memory Performance For Intel Core i5-12600K Alder Lake On Linux
Given current memory pricing and extremely limited availability of DDR5 memory modules, many Phoronix readers have been requesting DDR4 vs. DDR5 memory benchmarks for Alder Lake on Linux. After picking up a DDR4 Z690 motherboard, here are some reference benchmarks between DDR4 and DDR5 when testing with the Core i5 12600K on Ubuntu Linux in a variety of real-world workloads.

AMD P-State v4 Linux Testing On A Ryzen 5 5500U
With AMD having published a new revision to their AMD P-State Linux CPU frequency scaling driver that they are working towards mainlining with a goal of better power efficiency on Linux, here are some initial benchmarks of that new patch series when using a Ryzen 5 5500U notebook.

Linux 5.16 Features Include FUTEX2, Intel AMX, Folios, DG2/Alchemist, More Apple Silicon Support
Now that the Linux 5.16 merge window has ended with yesterday's Linux 5.16-rc1 release, here is my lengthy original overview of what I find most interesting out of this new kernel version. Linux 5.16 won't be out as stable until around the end of the calendar year or early next year, but it will sure make one nice Christmas gift with all of the shiny new features in tow.

Intel Core i9 12900K "Alder Lake" AVX-512 On Linux
While it was initially communicated by Intel that Alder Lake's Golden Cove P-Cores has AVX-512 "fused off", that has turned out not to be the case at least with the initial batch of processors and current BIOS/firmware configurations. If disabling the power-efficient Gracemont E-Cores, it's possible to enable AVX-512 and make use of it. Here are some initial AVX-512 benchmarks in such a configuration under Linux with the Core i9 12900K.

Amazon Linux 2022 Benchmarks - Offers Competitive Performance Against Ubuntu, CentOS
Last week Amazon Web Services released Amazon Linux 2022 in preview form and since then I've been trying out their new cloud-optimized Linux distribution. It's been working out well on AWS (to no surprise) but also great was the level of performance provided by this now-Fedora-based distribution.

Zink Is Ending 2021 In Fantastic Shape For OpenGL Over Vulkan
Following all the work carried out by Mike Blumenkrantz (Valve) and others, the Mesa Zink code is ending the year in terrific and very capable shape for OpenGL running atop the Vulkan API. Here is a look at where things currently stand with mainline Mesa for Zink OpenGL-on-Vulkan compared to the native RadeonSI Gallium3D OpenGL driver.

Linux 5.16's New Cluster Scheduling Is Causing Regression, Further Hurting Alder Lake
Linux 5.16-rc1 is coming out later today and already I'm seeing some fallout in the new kernel's performance... In particular, bad news for Alder Lake that is already seeing the Linux performance trailing Windows 11 seemingly due to the lack of Thread Director integration right now in the kernel and any other missing optimizations around Intel's hybrid architecture. A new feature of Linux 5.16 is unfortunately having unintended regressions for Alder Lake with at least the flagship Core i9 12900K. Here are the results from the latest kernel bisecting that uncovered this latest upstream slowdown.

AMD EPYC 7003 Series Performance Across Autumn 2021 Linux Distributions
Recently I ran benchmarks showing how Ubuntu 21.10 performance has improved for AMD EPYC 7003 "Milan" even compared to just six months ago with Ubuntu 21.04. In this article is a broader look at AMD EPYC Milan on the autumn 2021 Linux distributions with firing up not only Ubuntu 21.10 but Fedora Server 35, Clear Linux 35150, CentOS Stream, and AlmaLinux 8.4 as other common alternatives in the Linux server space.

PHP 8.1 Benchmarks - Continuing The Nice Performance Trajectory
PHP 8.1 released on Thursday as the latest major feature release for this programming language. In this article are some benchmarks of PHP 8.1.0 on an AMD EPYC powered Linux server compared to prior releases going as far back as PHP 5.6.

Linux & Mesa Driver Comparison For Intel Core i5 12600K / UHD Graphics 770
Earlier this month I provided benchmarks showing the Intel UHD Graphics 770 with Alder Lake compared to other CPUs/APUs under Linux. Those tests were done with the latest open-source Intel Linux graphics driver code at the time, but for those running Alder Lake and wondering if it's worthwhile moving from the stable versions to more bleeding-edge components, this article is for you.

AMD Announces Milan-X 3D V-Cache CPUs, Azure Prepares For Great Upgrade
AMD this morning hosted their Accelerated Data Center Premiere virtual event where they introduced Milan-X as well as the Instinct MI200. With Milan-X there is now 3D V-Cache introduced for the current generation and still-very-impressive EPYC 7003 "Milan" processors. I can personally attest to Milan-X being very exciting for HPC workloads and beyond with impressive gains to performance.

ASRock Rack's ROME2D16-2T Makes For A Great EPYC Server Board
For those looking to assemble your own AMD EPYC 7002/7003 series 2P server or workstation, the ASRock Rack ROME2D16-2T we have been testing out for the past quarter and it's been holding up well across our daily benchmarking and other Linux and BSD tasks. The board has been working out very well and is currently available from retailers like NewEgg.

And the most popular news articles on Phoronix for the year:

University Banned From Contributing To Linux Kernel For Intentionally Inserting Bugs
Greg Kroah-Hartman has banned a US university from trying to mainline Linux kernel patches over intentionally submitting questionable code with security implications and other "experiments" in the name of research.

Pyston 2.1 Is Blowing Past Python 3.8/3.9 Performance
With this past week's release of Pyston 2.1 as an alternative Python interpreter I was curious to see how the performance compared to that of upstream Python... So here are some weekend benchmarks with a Ryzen 9 5900X system.

AMD + Valve Working On New Linux CPU Performance Scaling Design
Along with other optimizations to benefit the Steam Deck, AMD and Valve have been jointly working on CPU frequency/power scaling improvements to enhance the Steam Play gaming experience on modern AMD platforms running Linux.

Linus Torvalds Decides To Land NVIDIA RTX 30 "Ampere" Support In Linux 5.11
While new feature code is normally not allowed in past the end of the merge window for a given Linux kernel release cycle, Linus Torvalds has decided to merge the newly-published open-source driver code for the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 "Ampere" graphics cards for the Linux 5.11 kernel that will debut as stable in February.

AMD Is Currently Hiring More Linux Engineers
It looks like thanks to AMD's increasing sales and continuing successes in the enterprise space with more HPC wins and the like, AMD is hiring more Linux engineers. AMD currently has several interesting job openings on the Linux front.

System76 Reportedly Developing Their Own Rust-Written Desktop, Not Based On GNOME
System76's Pop!_OS Linux distribution already has their own "COSMIC" desktop that is based on GNOME, but moving ahead they are working on their own Rust-written desktop that is not based on GNOME or any existing desktop environment.

Google Finally Shifting To "Upstream First" Linux Kernel Approach For Android Features
Google's Android had been notorious for all of its downstream patches carried by the mobile operating system as well as various vendor/device kernel trees while in recent years more of that code has been upstreamed. Google has also been shifting to the Android Generic Kernel Image (GKI) as the basis for all their product kernels to further reduce the fragmentation. Looking ahead, Google is now talking of an "upstream first" approach for pushing new kernel features.

IBM To Kernel Maintainer: "You Are An IBM Employee 100% Of The Time"
It's fairly common that many longtime Linux kernel developers use their personal email addresses for signing off on kernel patches or dealing with other patch work, especially when they are engaging with kernel development in their personal time too and occasionally jumping between employers over time while still sticking to interacting with the upstream kernel community, etc. There are also understandably some companies that mandate the use of their corporate email addresses for their official work/patches while now IBM seems to be taking things one step to the extreme.

Linus Torvalds On The Importance Of ECC RAM, Calls Out Intel's "Bad Policies" Over ECC
There's nothing quite like some fun holiday-weekend reading as a fiery mailing list post by Linus Torvalds. The Linux creator is out with one of his classical messages, which this time is arguing over the importance of ECC memory and his opinion on how Intel's "bad policies" and market segmentation have made ECC memory less widespread.

Linux 5.13 Reverts + Fixes The Problematic University of Minnesota Patches
One month ago the University of Minnesota was banned from contributing to the Linux kernel when it was revealed the university researchers were trying to intentionally submit bugs into the kernel via new patches as "hypocrite commits" as part of a questionable research paper. Linux kernel developers have finally finished reviewing all UMN.edu patches to address problematic merges to the kernel and also cleaning up / fixing their questionable patches.

Btrfs Will Finally "Strongly Discourage" You When Creating RAID5 / RAID6 Arrays
For a number of years it has been known that the Btrfs RAID5 and RAID6 code is potentially unsafe and not nearly as mature as the native RAID support found in this Linux file-system for other levels. Finally now we are seeing the Btrfs user-space programs warn the user when attempting to create such Btrfs native RAID 5/6 configurations.

NVIDIA 470 Linux Driver Series To Be "Even More Wayland-Friendly"
The next major NVIDIA driver series, the 470 release series, is slated to be "even more Wayland-friendly" but what all that encompasses remains to be seen.

Intel To Disable TSX By Default On More CPUs With New Microcode
Intel is going to be disabling Transactional Synchronization Extensions (TSX) by default for various Skylake through Coffee Lake processors with forthcoming microcode updates. Yes, this does mean performance implications for workloads benefiting from TSX. This change has seemingly not been talked about much at all publicly and I just happened to become aware of it when looking through new kernel patches.

It's Been 9 Years Since Valve Rolled Out The Steam Linux Beta
Today marks nine years already since Valve began rolling out their Steam Linux beta client after a very exciting summer. While the initial Steam on Linux excitement phased out a bit after Steam Machines didn't materialize, as we approach a decade with Steam on Linux it's easily as exciting as ever thanks to Steam Play / Proton for allowing massive amounts of Windows games to run on Linux and the imminent release of the Steam Deck that has fueled renewed interest around Linux gaming.

Steam Survey Shows Linux Marketshare Hitting 1.0%
Not only did Valve announce Steam Deck in July but the overall Linux gaming marketshare according to the Steam Survey also hit a multi-year high.

Linux Kernel Developers Discuss Dropping A Bunch Of Old CPUs
With Linux 5.10 having shipped as the latest Long Term Support (LTS) release to be maintained for at least the next five years, a discussion has begun over dropping a number of old and obsolete CPU platform support currently found within the mainline kernel. For many of the architectures being considered for removal they haven't seen any new commits in years but as is the case once proposals are made for them to be removed there are often passionate users wanting the support to be kept.

Arch Linux's Install Media Adds "Archinstall" For Quick/Easy Installations
This month's Arch Linux install media update now provides "archinstall" as the guided installer for Arch Linux for those preferring a quick and easy route for deploying Arch Linux.

NVIDIA Confirms Sway Wayland Compositor Works Fine With Their New GBM Driver Support
Stemming from an ongoing Mesa GBM discussion over introducing new gbm_bo_create_with_modifiers2 / gbm_surface_create_with_modifiers2 functions since the original "gbm_*_create_with_modifiers" functions lack support for passing usage flags, NVIDIA confirmed that the Sway Wayland compositor is working fine with their forthcoming driver supporting GBM.

NVIDIA Prepares XWayland OpenGL/Vulkan Acceleration Support
NVIDIA's Wayland support is finally coming together albeit long overdue with DMA-BUF passing support and now patches pending against XWayland for supporting OpenGL and Vulkan hardware acceleration with their proprietary driver.

The Sad State Of Web Browser Support Currently Within Debian
When it comes to the state of packaged web browsers for Debian GNU/Linux, unfortunately it leaves a lot to be desired at the moment and for those wanting to be secure and up-to-date it can mean resorting to proprietary or un-packaged browser builds.
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About The Author
Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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