A Look At The Many Features On The Table For The Upcoming Linux 4.20~5.0 Kernel

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 20 October 2018 at 11:58 PM EDT. 7 Comments
If all goes as planned, tomorrow will mark the availability of the Linux 4.19 stable kernel. That is also expected to mark the return of Linus Torvalds from his retreat where he was working on his empathy skills and politeness. The 4.19 stable release will then kick off the merge window for the next kernel cycle.

It's still not set in stone yet whether the next kernel release will be Linux 4.20 or Linux 5.0. Linus Torvalds previously communicated -- and what he did in going from Linux 3.19 to 4.0 -- was that when otherwise hitting the x.20 release is time to bump the major kernel version number. So it's likely the next kernel cycle will be Linux 5.0, but we'll see if the new-and-improved Torvalds has different feelings now over the versioning scheme.

A lot of hardware goodies are coming to the next Linux kernel... Of course we'll have benchmarks when the time comes.

Regardless of whatever this next kernel version ends up being called, it will be a big one. Below is a look at the various featured queued so far that we have spotted in the different "-next" Git branches ahead of their call for inclusion to mainline during the merge window period. Linus could end up rejecting some of the changes, but for the most part there are no earth shattering changes but mostly a lot of new hardware support. Stay tuned for more of our Linux 4.20~5.0 coverage during the two-week merge period.

- Linux LoRa is ready to be submitted as a pull request as part of the wireless networking subsystem. LoRa is the new-ish standard for long-range, low-power wireless for use-cases like IoT.

- PCI peer-to-peer memory support as some interesting infrastructure work going on for cases of NVMe fabric to allow copying directly from an RDMA NIC to a PCIe storage device, etc. There is also possible use-cases for graphics processors in making use of this formalized infrastructure.

- USB 3.0 is now deemed ubiquitous rather than an oddity and so is being enabled by default for the Linux defconfig (default configuration).

- Support for the AMD Zen derived Hygon Dhyana x86_64 CPUs/SoCs, the new AMD Chinese joint venture.

- Long-awaited mainline support for the Apple Magic Trackpad 2 for both wired and wireless interfaces.

- More storage drivers now use BLK-MQ as the multi-queue block I/O code, even the old Linux floppy driver! There is also other BLK-MQ work like restoring runtime power management.

- Intel 2.5G Ethernet controller support.

- WoWLAN and new hardware coverage in the Qualcomm Atheros ATH10K WiFi driver.

- A fix for some MacBook Pro laptops where (un)plugging the MacBook Pro charger could lead to excessive CPU usage.

- LG Gram laptop support to the extent various keys are now working along with LED keyboard backlight and touchpad controls, etc.

- Dropping Intel MPX support from the kernel -- the Memory Protection Extensions.

- Faster FUSE file-systems across multiple optimizations.

- More Intel Icelake graphics work.

- Nouveau HDMI 2.0 support is finally coming for the open-source NVIDIA driver.

- Tegra194 Xavier display support but no open-source 3D acceleration at this time.

- MGPU fan boost support for Vega 20.

- AMD xGMI support for the new interconnect to be featured with Vega 20 and EPYC 2 platforms.

- AMD Raven 2 and Picasso APU support.

- A lot of other graphics/display driver improvements.

- A6xx performance improvements in the Freedreno MSM DRM driver.

- Speculative Store Bypass Safe for ARMv8.5 hardware.

- Support for a BigBen gaming controller.

- Creative Labs Sound Blaster ZxR sound card support and Sound BlasterX AE-5.

- Kyber I/O scheduler improvements.

Plus surely a lot more I likely didn't spot in digging through hundreds of patches in the different "-next" subsystem/feature branches, so stay tuned to Phoronix during the next merge window to find out all about what made it in. Two features not queued at this point is AMD FreeSync / Adaptive-Sync / HDMI VRR -- the kernel and user-space bits appear nearly ready but the DRM side code didn't get staged in time, but hopefully the next release. As of writing, WireGuard also hasn't been queued in net-next for the Linux 5.0 kernel... We'll see if it gets added as a late addition as many people (including Linus Torvalds) really want this secure VPN tunnel added to the kernel ASAP.

What else would you ideally want to see out of the next Linux kernel? Let us know in the forums or on Twitter.
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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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