Intel Has Been Recently Ramping Up Their FreeBSD Support

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 16 May 2019 at 09:26 PM EDT. 3 Comments
While Intel's open-source Linux support is largely stellar and was a big focus of this week's Open-Source Technology Summit in Washington, their FreeBSD support isn't nearly as polished but over the past roughly year and a half they've been establishing a FreeBSD team and working towards feature parity and supporting critical functionality for their customers.

As written about last year, Ben Widawsky who had long been part of their Linux graphics driver team began part of the effort on improving the FreeBSD support around Intel hardware. Ben spoke Wednesday at OSTS 2019 about this FreeBSD improvement voyage.

It turns out this FreeBSD effort was established largely following Spectre/Meltdown mitigation coming to light. FreeBSD didn't see Spectre/Meltdown mitigations as quickly as the other operating systems that were working on the mitigations while still embargoed. Following feedback from a major FreeBSD house and Intel customer, that led to taking a look at the FreeBSD situation on Intel in terms of providing more funding to the FreeBSD Foundation and allocating developer resources to this open-source OS.

Following a call for feedback for other areas that Intel could improve their FreeBSD support, Ben and the other developers involved got to work and continue working to enhance the Intel architecture support on this popular BSD.

Over the past roughly year, they've been striving towards better power management, improved Intel microcode CPU handling, vTune support, Turbostat support, initial work on persistent memory support for the likes of Optane DC Persistent Memory, and OVMF support for Bhyve.

Some of the next items they are evaluating continuous integration (CI), Thunderbolt 3 enablement, Intel Quick Assist Technology, NUMA scalability enhancements, and any other customer needs. The development time is obviously limited but Ben clearly demonstrated a passion for FreeBSD going back to when he was working on their BSD-derived code for the Larrabee project back in the day. Hopefully with these efforts, we'll see better Intel hardware launch-day support on FreeBSD moving forward.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of 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 automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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