Changes Expected For The Linux 5.9 Kernel From Intel DG1 To AMD Navi 2 To New CPU Capabilities

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 2 August 2020 at 10:48 AM EDT. Add A Comment
The Linux 5.9 kernel merge window will open up immediately upon the release of Linux 5.8, which is expected to happen this evening unless Linus Torvalds decides to stave it off for one week to allow for additional testing. In any case, once Linux 5.9 kicks off there are a lot of changes expected.

Based on our monitoring of the various kernel "-next" Git branches in recent weeks and the mailing lists, here is a look at some of the changes slated for the Linux 5.9 kernel. Stay tuned to Phoronix for much more once the Linux 5.9 merge window is underway.

- The AMDGPU driver now has Navy Flounder support and Sienna Cichlid as the initial "Navi 2" open-source Radeon Linux graphics driver support. Mesa 20.2 and LLVM 11.0 have the initial bits in user-space for these yet-to-be-launched graphics processors.

- Initial Intel DG1 graphics card support is now in place and continuing to be improved upon.

- Intel Rocket Lake graphics support is also new for Linux 5.9 for the Gen12-based graphics on those next-gen Intel desktop CPUs.

- The long-awaited FSGSBASE CPU instruction support for helping the performance of Intel CPUs going back to Ivy Bridge as well as newer AMD CPUs.

- NVMe ZNS is now ready for zoned namespace support similar to SMR and ZBC for allowing more software control over data placement on NVMe solid-state drives. NVMe ZNS is part of the NVMe 2.0 specification.

- The ability to tighten up CPU MSR access from user-space in the name of security.

- Intel Architectural LBR support.

- Support for building the x86 32-bit kernel with Clang, complementing the existing mainline support for Clang'ing x86_64 and AArch64.

- Speakup is promoted out of staging as a long-time screen reader for the Linux video console / VT. The code is now good enough to be formally included in the kernel's accessibility area.

- 6GHz WiFi support with the Qualcomm Ath11k wireless driver.

- Continued work on the Qualcomm Adreno 640 / 650 open-source driver support.

- USB4 support improvements.

- The open-source NVIDIA (Nouveau) driver has just been preparing for future improvements and CRC support.

- Support for limiting the Tiger Lake SoC PL4 package maximum power limit as a new tunable for this upcoming Intel SoC.

- For existing Kaby Lake CPUs is also now support for toggling a more energy efficient mode.

- A workaround for Intel Ice Lake Xeons that the CPU clock frequencies will ramp up slower.

- Improved handling of flashing Ethernet firmware for network hardware using the Intel ICE driver, namely the E800 series.

- Support for controlling the default boost value for real-time workloads as a change driven by Arm with big.LITTLE designs in mind but also relevant to other areas.

- ARMv8 TTL as the translation table level support. There is also ARMv8 MTE for the memory tagging extension.

- Xilinx EF100 NIC architecture support for their FPGAs with the IP acquired from Solarflare.

- Support for defaulting to the FQ-PIE queuing discipline for fighting bufferbloat in the Linux network code.

- DM-CRYPT support for zoned block devices.

- Secure erase functionality for F2FS.

- Proper handling for the ThinkPad 10 Ultrabook keyboard.

- The ability to further restrict access to DebugFS in the name of security with this change led by Sony.

- Code cleaning for meeting the inclusive guidelines set out recently.

- Switching over to HTTPS links in the documentation where supported rather than HTTP.

The two-week merge window for Linux 5.9 will get underway shortly followed by around eight weeks of release candidates, therefore putting Linux 5.9 stable out in October. Sadly that will miss the mark for Ubuntu 20.10 but should come down as a stable update for the likes of Fedora 33.

Stay tuned for more details on Fedora 33 features and ultimately the performance benchmarks.
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Michael Larabel

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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