Kabylake, GCC 7, Binary Blobs, Vulkan & Other Highlights From January

Written by Michael Larabel in Phoronix on 31 January 2017 at 08:16 PM EST. Add A Comment
There's been a lot of exciting events so far in 2017 from the rapid progress of Mesa's OpenGL and Vulkan drivers, other significant Vulkan milestones, Intel Kabylake desktop CPUs hitting the market, Linux 4.10 nearing release, Linux 4.11's merge window being right around the corner, and much more. Here's a recap.

This month on Phoronix there were 309 original news pieces and 34 featured articles on Phoronix this month. All written by your's truly, keeping a pace of around 10 original news items per day, seven days per week, as well as a featured multi-page article / Linux hardware review per day. 365 days per year, you can enjoy new and original content on Phoronix with no changes on that front being planned for 2017.

To stay up to date with all of our coverage on Phoronix, be sure to use our RSS feed or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. If you would like to help support our work, besides viewing our site without any ad-blocker as we are paid on an ad impression basis as our primary source of revenue, you can also help by joining Phoronix Premium to enjoy the site ad-free and multi-page articles on a single page, among other benefits. Tips via PayPal are also always appreciated for motivation for great articles, continued work on the open-source benchmarking software, and much more.

With that PSA out of the way, here's a look at the most-viewed news of the month:

Richard Stallman: Goodbye to GNU Libreboot
The drama over Libreboot, a downstream of Coreboot, wanting to leave the GNU has come to an end.

It's Now Possible To Disable & Strip Down Intel's ME Blob
Many free software advocates have been concerned by Intel's binary-only Management Engine (ME) built into the motherboards on newer generations of Intel motherboards. The good news is there is now a working, third-party approach for disabling the ME and reducing the risk of its binary blobs.

Valve Developer Posts New AMD GPU Debugging Tool, Part Of Improving Linux Driver
Another Valve developer has begun contributing to the open-source AMD Linux graphics driver stack. Besides posting some RADV Vulkan patches last week, today he's announced a new GPU debugging tool he's been working on for AMD's driver/hardware.

Firefox 51 Released With FLAC Audio Support, WebGL 2.0 By Default
Firefox 51.0 just hit Mozilla's FTP servers for those wanting the latest version of this open-source web-browser.

PulseAudio 10.0 Officially Released
Well, that happened sooner than anticipated.

WireGuard Secure Network Tunnel Is Eyeing Mainline, Running On Android
Back in June we reported on WireGuard as a next-generation secure network tunnel for the Linux kernel. We haven't heard much on WireGuard in recent months, but this New Year's morning we received a message from their lead developer with a status update.

A Look Back At Some Of The Best Features Added To The Linux Kernel In 2016
Going from the Linux 4.5 kernel merge window that was open in last January to the Linux 4.10 merge window that closed this past Christmas, here is a look back at the prominent features added to the kernel in 2016.

VK9 - Direct3D-Over-Vulkan - Reaches New Milestones
The VK9 project that's working to implement Direct3D 9 over Vulkan that's been under heavy development the past few months has reached new development milestones.

Debian Stretch Enters Its Soft Freeze, Full Freeze In One Month
The soft freeze is now upon us for Debian 9.0 "Stretch" while the full freeze will happen in February.

AMD Kaveri vs. Intel Skylake With The Latest Linux/Mesa Open-Source Drivers
I'm in the process of testing a lot of my different CPUs/APUs in preparation for some Kaby Lake Linux benchmarks next week with the Core i5 7600K and Core i7 7700K. Along the way with the different CPU benchmarks I've also been running some fresh integrated Linux graphics tests on the newer and interesting hardware.

And the most-viewed featured articles:

Intel Kabylake: Windows 10 vs. Linux OpenGL Performance
For those curious about the current Kabylake graphics performance between Windows 10 and Linux, here are some OpenGL benchmark results under each operating system. Windows 10 Pro x64 was tested and the Linux distributions for comparison were Ubuntu 16.10, Clear Linux, Antergos, Fedora 25 Xfce, and openSUSE Tumbleweed.

GCC 7.0 vs. 6.3 vs. 5.4 vs. 4.9 Compiler Benchmarks On Linux x86_64
With GCC7 feature development ending, this week I conducted some benchmarks of the latest GCC 7 snapshot against that of the past three major release series of the GNU Compiler Collection: 6.3.0, 5.4.0, and 4.9.4. All tests were done on Ubuntu Linux x86_64 with an Intel Core i7 6800K processor.

Linux Memory Performance With Intel Kabylake From DDR4-1600 To DDR4-3333MHz
For those that may be thinking about picking up an Intel Kabylake processor and trying to justify if DDR4-2400 memory is worthwhile for your budget, or even faster DDR4 memory via XMP profiles / overclocking, here are some tests using a Kabylake CPU and testing DDR4 memory at frequencies from 1600MHz up to 3333MHz.

GCC 7.0 vs. LLVM Clang 4.0 Performance (January 2017)
LLVM Clang 4.0 is set to be released in February while GCC 7 will be released as stable in March~April. For those curious how both compilers are currently performing, here is our latest installment of GCC vs. LLVM Clang benchmarking on Linux x86_64.

Open-Source Nouveau Linux 4.10 + NvBoost vs. NVIDIA Proprietary Linux Driver Performance
Earlier this week I posted some benchmarks showing the open-source NVIDIA (Nouveau) driver performance on Linux 4.10 with the new NvBoost capability for finally being able to hit the "boost" clock frequencies with Kepler graphics cards when using this reverse-engineered driver. While the manual re-clocking and enabling NvBoost is able to increase the Nouveau driver's performance, how do these results compare to using the closed-source NVIDIA Linux driver? These benchmarks answer that question.

26-Way Intel/AMD CPU System Comparison With Ubuntu 16.10 + Linux 4.10 Kernel
In preparation for Intel Kaby Lake socketed CPU benchmark results soon on Phoronix, the past number of days I have been re-tested many of the systems in our benchmark server room for comparing to the performance of the new Kaby Lake hardware. For those wanting to see how existing Intel and AMD systems compare when using Ubuntu 16.10 x86_64 and the latest Linux 4.10 Git kernel, here are those benchmarks ahead of our Kaby Lake Linux CPU reviews.

AMD & NVIDIA: Open vs. Closed-Source Driver Performance
Continuing on from this weekend's open-source Nouveau vs. closed-source NVIDIA Linux driver performance are results now added in with showing AMD's open-source vs. closed-source driver performance with the same tests.

Antergos vs. Fedora vs. Ubuntu vs. openSUSE vs. Debian 9 vs. Clear Linux For Early 2017
At the end of December I posted a number of Linux workstation/server distribution benchmarks while this article has the results from the more desktop-focused (non-graphics) Linux distribution benchmarks. Up for benchmarking off a Skylake NUC in this article was Antergos, Fedora 25, Ubuntu 16.10, openSUSE Tumbleweed, Debian 9 Testing, and Intel's Clear Linux.

Fedora vs. Ubuntu vs. openSUSE vs. Clear Linux For Intel Steam Gaming Performance
With this week Clear Linux now being able to run Steam, I was excited to see how this performance-minded Linux distribution out of Intel's Open-Source Technology Center would compare to other more popular Linux distributions when it comes to Intel Linux gaming performance. Here are some benchmarks of this traditionally workstation/server-oriented Intel Linux distribution running some Steam Linux games.

Radeon Ubuntu Linux Users Have A Lot To Gain By Upgrading Mesa
For those curious about the performance difference if upgrading to third-party PPAs from Ubuntu 16.10 when using a modern AMD Radeon graphics card with the open-source driver stack, here are some fresh numbers.
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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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