Ten Exciting Features Of The Linux 4.10 Kernel

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 12 February 2017 at 09:18 PM EST. 23 Comments
The Linux 4.10 kernel didn't end up being released today, but was pushed back by an extra week. However, in looking forward to next weekend, here are ten of the features that excite us about Linux 4.10.

See The New Features & Exciting Changes Of The Linux 4.10 Kernel for our complete and original look at the new features and changes to Linux 4.10. But for those short on time, here are ten features that get us cheering for Linux 4.10:

1. Nouveau Boost support. The open-source NVIDIA DRM driver has initial support for allowing supported graphics cards to hit their "boost" clock frequencies for achieving higher performance. The re-clocking is still done manually and static, while at least now booting the system with the NvBoost option can allow achieving higher clock speeds. This boost support delivers noticeable performance gains as shown by our own benchmarks.

2. Initial mainline Intel GVT support. Intel developers have spent years working on Xen/KVM Graphics Virtualization Technology for allowing guest VMs to use their native OS Intel drivers for accessing the underlying Intel graphics hardware of the host. With Linux 4.10 this initial support is in place, but will continue to be refined over the coming kernel cycles.

3. More AMD Zen/Ryzen enablement. Through various pull requests there's been efforts for getting the AMD Ryzen processor support squared away in the mainline Linux kernel. Stay tuned for my AMD Ryzen Linux benchmarks in the weeks ahead.

4. On the Intel side, there is Turbo Boost Max 3.0 support. TBM3 is supported by Broadwell-E CPUs and future processors for being able to boost to even higher frequencies for single-threaded workloads. The Linux 4.10 kernel finally has a Turbo Boost Max 3.0 driver although it's going to be made better in a later kernel release.

5. EXT4 DAX iomap support and XFS iomap support. This makes the DAX I/O code-paths utilize the iomap framework rather than their older code-path, which then allows for more efficient block mapping, PMD page fault support, minor bug fixes, and improvements. DAX is the direct access support in the Linux kernel for file-systems to have more efficient, direct read/write access to persistent memory storage devices.

6. Better support for the Microsoft Surface 3/4 devices.

7. More ARM platform support including the Snapdragon 808/810, Huawei Nexus 6P, LG Nexus 5X, Pine64, Droid 4, and others. There is also early work on the NVIDIA Tegra P1 / Parker.

8. Improved Raspberry Pi 3 support. The Raspberry Pi VC4 DRM driver also picked up new features for bettering its open-source graphics stack.

9. ATA Command Priority support. The priority modes include normal priority, isochronous deadline-dependent priority, and a high priority. The high priority mode signifies that there should be an "attempt to provide better quality of service for the command. The device should complete high priority requests in a more timely fashion than normal and isochronous requests."

10. While the GCN 1.0/1.1 (SI/CIK) hardware support is still experimental / disabled-by-default for the AMDGPU driver, there have been various Radeon Southern Islands and Sea Islands improvements this cycle. There have also been more AMDGPU improvements around PowerPlay / power management.
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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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