Intel's "Software Defined Silicon" Linux Support Moving Along

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 1 February 2022 at 06:09 AM EST. 18 Comments
While Intel has not publicly announced their plans around Software Defined Silicon (SDSi), the Linux kernel patches allowing activation of licensed CPU features is continuing to move forward toward mainline integration.

Back in September we were first to call attention to the patches posted at the time for this Software Defined Silicon that allows activating extra licensed hardware features. The patches have continued while Intel has been mum on what sort of featues they plan to have available in the hardware with future processors but retain them to being licensed / purchased separately capabilities that need to be activated by this "intel_sdsi" driver relying on cryptographically signed certificates. Presumably SDSi will be used with future Intel server CPUs given their timely Linux support but will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Since the original September patches, Intel has been refining the SDSi Linux support code that brings back memories of Intel's Upgrade Service from a decade ago for software-activated features on select Core processors.

It's yet to be announced what sort of features Intel is considering for SDSi whether it's certain AVX/AMX capabilities, other instruction set extensions that may be niche but valuable to some users, or even lifting cache / frequency restrictions as seen with the original Intel Upgrade Service software.

Last night a new set of patches were posted. Some of the prep changes for supporting intel_sdsi were already merged for the Linux 5.17 cycle so the actual SDSi enablement is now down to just three patches. These patches add the new Intel Software Defined Silicon platform driver as well as the sample provisioning tool and self-tests for the sysfs interface exposed by the driver to user-space.

These latest patches now out being critiqued as part of the review process can be found on the kernel mailing list. We'll see if the Intel SDSi work is buttoned up in time for the v5.18 kernel cycle in late March..
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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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