POWER9 On Linux Will See Faster Context Switching, Other Optimizations

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 28 October 2018 at 06:08 AM EDT. 13 Comments
The POWER architecture changes have been submitted for the in-development Linux 4.20~5.0 kernel cycle, including more optimizations on the POWER9 front for these latest-generation IBM CPUs.

The code around the IBM POWER SLB (Segment Lookaside Buffer) miss-handling has been rewritten in clean C code rather than Assembly and improved upon from there. This cleaned up and optimized C code for their SLB entries is seeing a 27% speed-up in the context switching performance on one of their internal POWER9 benchmarks.

This next kernel also has improvements to their handling of SLB multi-hit errors, THP migration for Book3S POWER 7/8/9 hardware, support for physical memory up to 2PB in the linear mapping for 64-bit Book3S, stack protector support for 32-bit and 64-bit, support for recognizing POWER9 "big cores" made up of two SMT4 cores as a single SMT8 core, and various other code improvements.

A complete look at the POWER CPU changes for this next kernel cycle can be found via this pull request.

It's great timing as this coming week I will finally have my hands on POWER9 hardware as the folks at Raptor Computing Systems are kindly sending over one of their dual 22-core POWER9 Talos II systems for running a lot more benchmarks.
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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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