Linux 5.9 Supports A Lot Of New Audio Hardware, Intel Silent Stream Added

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 8 August 2020 at 09:39 AM EDT. 14 Comments
The Linux kernel continues supporting a lot more audio devices and much more punctual than a decade or two ago.

Linux 5.9 is bringing support for a number of new audio devices, including:

- Intel Keem Bay I2S support. Keem Bay is the Intel platform based on their Movidius acquisition that is focused on a VPU platform for AI computing. Keem Bay features Arm Cortex-A53 cores backed by the Intel Movidius VPU where all the magic happens for this low-power, computer vision system. This I2S audio support goes along with a lot of other Keem Bay enablement happening for Linux 5.9... This looks to be the base requirement for good mainline support with Keem Bay.

- Realtek RL6231, which seems to finish off earlier RL6231 code in Linux 5.7.

- NVIDIA Tegra 186 and 210 audio support on mainline, that's the Tegra X1 and X2 SoCs... Long overdue for seeing that audio support mainline.

- Maxim MAX98360A/MAX98373 SoundWire support.

- Support for more Mediatek hardware.

- Samsung Midas and Aries boards now have working audio.

- Freescale MQS and i.MX6sx (i.MX 6 SoloX).

In addition to new hardware enablement, the sound pull for Linux 5.9 also yields:

- Cleaned up terminology per inclusive terminology guidelines.

- Cleanups and other improvements to all of the Intel ASoC code.

- Fixes to CA0132 support, Loongson 3, and other hardware specific quirks and fixes.

- Intel Silent Stream support. Intel Silent Stream works with Haswell hardware and newer for optionally allowing HDMI receiver circuitry to remain powered on. This feature is to avoid the possibility of a slight delay when initially starting audio playback over HDMI for the time it takes the hardware to power back up. The downside of Silent Stream is a slight increase in static power consumption due to keeping the link active. For those wanting this feature at the cost of slight performance penalties can build Linux 5.9+ with the SND_HDA_INTEL_HDMI_SILENT_STREAM option. Windows has long supported this option and it works back to Haswell, so it's about time that such support works on Linux.

More details on all of the sound driver changes for Linux 5.9 via this pull request that has already been merged to master.
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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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