Linux 5.18 Preparations, AMD Servers, Spectre BHI & Other Highlights From March

Written by Michael Larabel in Phoronix on 2 April 2022 at 05:35 AM EDT. Add A Comment
With March wrapped up here is a look back at the most popular open-source Linux news and articles for the month.

In case you missed any of the daily, original content on Phoronix over the course of the busy month of March, here is a look back at the most popular articles. As always you can follow the content via Twitter, Facebook, and RSS. Join Phoronix Premium if wishing to help support the site as it approaches its 18th birthday in June.

The most popular news for the past month included:

ReactOS "Open-Source Windows" Making Progress On SMP/Multi-Core Support
ReactOS as the open-source project striving for binary compatibility with Windows applications/drivers is still working away in 2022 on symmetric multi-processing (SMP) support.

Google Has A Problem With Linux Server Reboots Too Slow Due To Too Many NVMe Drives
Hyperscaler problems these days? Linux servers taking too long to reboot due to having too many NVMe drives. Thankfully Google is working on an improvement to address this where some of their many-drive servers can take more than one minute for the Linux kernel to carry out its shutdown tasks while this work may benefit other users too albeit less notably.

AMD Linux Kernel Graphics Driver Closing In On 4 Million Lines
For quite a while now the modern AMD Linux kernel graphics driver (AMDGPU/AMDKFD code) has been the single largest driver within the mainline Linux kernel code-base. It's been far larger than the other upstream kernel drivers given the complexities of modern GPUs and is only becoming even larger.

Microsoft Has Another Go At Their DirectX Linux Kernel Driver
Microsoft on Tuesday posted a third iteration of their "DXGKRNL" Linux kernel driver for DirectX / Hyper-V compute support for use within Windows Subsystem for Linux / Windows Subsystem for Android.

Linux 5.18 Plans To Switch From C89 To C11/GNU11 C Version
When Linus Torvalds gets motivated and behind kernel changes, they tend to happen more quickly, with the latest example being the switching from the C89 language standard to C11 (GNU11). That change is now expected early on for the Linux 5.18 merge window.

The Worst Razer Mouse I've Tested In The Past 17 Years
Going back to the original Razer Copperhead mouse in 2005, I've tested many different Razer mice over the years and have exclusively used Razer mice on my main production system for basically as long. This week the scrollwheel physically broke on a Razer DeathAdder mouse I've used the past few years so quickly ordered a replacement, which sadly turned out to be the worst Razer mouse I've personally ever used, and replaced it a day later.

BHI: The Newest Spectre Vulnerability Affecting Intel & Arm CPUs
The VUSec security researchers are today -- in cooperation with Intel -- disclosing another new speculative execution vulnerability... BHI is the name and it's an offshoot from Spectre V2.

Mesa 22.0 Released With Vulkan 1.3, Many Open-Source Intel & AMD Driver Improvements
Mesa 22.0 is out today as the quarterly feature update to this collection of open-source OpenGL and Vulkan graphics drivers used widely by Linux systems.

OpenBLAS Deciding Whether To Drop Support For Russia's Elbrus CPUs
OpenBLAS recently added support for Russia's Elbrus E2000 processors, however, the OpenBLAS developers are now debating whether to drop support for these Russian domestically-produced CPUs given Russia's invasion into Ukraine.

AMD Now Backing AlmaLinux As This Increasingly Popular RHEL/CentOS Alternative
AMD is now among the latest companies backing the AlmaLinux OS Foundation for that increasingly popular free build derived from the Red Hat Enterprise Linux sources now that CentOS 8 is end-of-life.

Rust Patches For The Linux Kernel Updated A Fifth Time With New Features
Miguel Ojeda who has been leading the Rust programming language support for the Linux kernel today posted his fifth spin of this patch series providing the optional Rust integration for the Linux kernel that includes example driver code.

Ubuntu 22.04 LTS To Carry GNOME Triple Buffering Support
Ubuntu 22.04 LTS will be carrying the patches so the GNOME desktop makes use of the on-demand triple buffering support when necessary in order to boost the GPU rendering performance in order to allow for a smoother desktop experience.

Firefox 98 Set For Release With Dialog Element, Still Working On Wayland Support
Mozilla Firefox 98.0 binaries have hit the web today ahead of the formal release announcement tomorrow. There are various improvements in this latest monthly update to the Firefox web browser while its Wayland support for the Linux desktop remains ongoing.

Linux 5.17 Pushed Back Due To The New Spectre Attack, Other Headaches
Linus Torvalds was hoping to release the stable Linux 5.17 kernel today but instead opted for Linux 5.17-rc8 as an extra release candidate.

MGLRU Continues To Look Very Promising For Linux Kernel Performance
One of many promising kernel patch series at the moment for enhancing Linux kernel performance is the multi-gen LRU framework (MGLRU) devised by Google engineers. They found the current Linux kernel page reclaim code is too expensive for CPU resources and can make poor eviction choices while MGLRU aims to yield better performance. These results are quite tantalizing and MGLRU is now up to its ninth revision.

EXT4 Fast Commit Mode To Be Even Faster With Linux 5.18
Added back in 2020 with the Linux 5.10 kernel was the new EXT4 "fast commits" mode for reducing commit latency in the ordered data mode. Now for the upcoming Linux 5.18 cycle, that fast commits mode should be even faster.

Linux x86 Ready To Remove Its Old 32-bit a.out Support
Going along with the recent patches to stop building a.out support for Linux's Alpha and m68k architecture ports as the last of the CPU architectures that were still building the kernel with the support enabled, developers are ready to remove the x86 a.out support outright.

Imagination Tech Publishes Open-Source PowerVR Vulkan Driver For Mesa
After many years of waiting and past faltered efforts, "Imagination Tech publishing a new open-source driver" probably wasn't on your bingo card for 2022... But they are doing such with a new open-source PowerVR Vulkan driver for Mesa.

Linux 5.18 To Bring New Intel Drivers, Optimization For AMD EPYC, C11 & Much More
Linux 5.17 will hopefully be released on Sunday and with that next kernel there are many exciting features in tow. But for as great as Linux 5.17 is, there are many features I am already eager for with Linux 5.18. Here is an early look at a number of the changes expected in this next kernel version.

The Most Interesting New Features Of Linux 5.17 - Intel & AMD Continue With Big Changes
Assuming nothing major comes up in the next few days, the Linux 5.17 kernel is expected to be released on Sunday. While we have been covering Linux 5.17 kernel activity already for a while prior to the merge window even getting going, here is a convenient look at some of the most interesting changes to find in this new release.

And the most popular featured articles for March:

AMD Makes A Compelling Case For Budget-Friendly Ryzen Dedicated Servers
While AMD EPYC processors offer phenomenal performance at the high-end for servers with up to 64 cores / 128 threads per socket, eight memory channels, and other features, not all server deployments call for such capabilities. In the lower-end dedicated web server rental space, budget web hosting, and similar personal / small office server space, AMD Ryzen processors can prove more than capable. Already some dedicated server providers are offering AMD Ryzen powered servers and more are expected to come soon -- especially with even more server-minded wares for Ryzen expected next generation. In looking at this space, we have been testing a number of AMD Ryzen processors recently compared to Intel Xeon E class competition for looking at the performance and value in the low-end dedicated server space.

Windows vs. Linux Benchmarks For AMD Ryzen Server Performance
As a follow-up to last week's article looking at how AMD is making an interesting case for budget-friendly Ryzen dedicated servers and not only in Europe but throughout the world more hosting providers are offering cost-conscious AMD Ryzen powered dedicated server options, here is a look at how various Linux distributions run on an ASRock Rack based AMD Ryzen server up against Microsoft Windows.

Apple M1 Performance On Linux: Benchmarks Better Than Expected For Its Alpha State
Last Friday the crew at Asahi Linux led by Hector Martin released the first alpha release for running Linux on Apple Silicon hardware. I eagerly loaded up Asahi Linux on an M1-powered Apple Mac Mini knowing the various early limitations of the Linux kernel support that is still settling. Overall the Apple M1 Linux performance ended up exceeding my expectations for the performance in its early alpha state. Here are some benchmarks.

The Performance Impact Of AMD Changing Their Retpoline Method For Spectre V2
Made public this week was the Spectre-BHB / BHI vulnerability and while only Intel and Arm processors are currently believed to be impacted, in the course of that research the folks at VUSec discovered AMD's current Retpoline strategy for Spectre V2 mitigations is not adequate. This has led to a change in behavior for AMD processors and is already applied to the Linux kernel. Here is a look at what it means for desktop and server performance due to the change in return trampoline handling.

AMD EPYC 7773X "Milan-X" Benchmarks Show Very Strong HPC Performance Upgrade
While Milan-X was announced back in November, today is the day of the Milan-X embargo lift for reviewing these new processors and sharing more about these high-end server processors focused on delivering even greater performance for high performance computing (HPC) workloads. In this review is a look at the performance of the AMD EPYC 7773X series against other AMD EPYC parts and the Intel Xeon Scalable competition under Linux.

An Early Look At The Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Performance On AMD Ryzen 9 5950X + RX 6800
With Ubuntu 22.04 LTS "Jammy Jellyfish" less than one month out from release, I have begun testing it on more desktop and server platforms ahead of release. Ubuntu 22.04 LTS overall is in nice shape. On current generation platforms I am not seeing much uplift compared to Ubuntu 21.10 but for those still making use of the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS series with its older compiler and other older packages, Ubuntu 22.04 LTS is providing some uplift. Here is a look at Ubuntu 20.04.4 vs. 21.10 vs. 22.04 daily on an AMD Ryzen 9 5950X desktop.

DDR5-6000 Memory Performance On Linux, Scaling From DDR5 3000 to 6000 MT/s
Up to this point my Intel Alder Lake DDR5 memory testing on Linux has been limited to a set of DDR5-4400 modules given the very limited DDR5 availability. But with having recently received a DDR5-6000 kit, here is a look at how the Intel Core i9 12900K performs under Linux with memory speeds up to DDR5-6000 and running a memory scaling comparison from 3000 to 6000 MT/s.

Open-Source AMD Radeon Linux Graphics In Great Shape For Workstations, Handily Beating Proprietary Driver
With SPECViewPerf 2020 finally released for Linux I was curious to see how AMD's open-source "RadeonSI" Gallium3D driver within Mesa would compare to the performance offered by AMD's proprietary OpenGL Linux driver. After all, that longstanding proprietary driver, which is distributed as part of their Radeon Software for Linux driver package, has code in common with their Windows OpenGL driver and has previously been talked up as the preferred choice for workstation customers. Well, the latest open-source driver stack was outright kicking mud at that legacy binary blob for SPECViewPerf 2020 as well as the ParaView workstation visualization software.

In Light Of Spectre BHI, The Performance Impact For Retpolines On Modern Intel CPUs
Made public on Tuesday was BHI / Spectre-BHB as the newest offshoot from Spectre V2. There were Linux patches immediately posted for affected Intel and Arm processors while also making adjustments to AMD CPUs around its Retpoline handling. The VUSec security researchers that discovered BHI are recommending Retpolines be enabled for newer processors even those with hardware mitigations against Spectre V2, but that's that performance cost? Here are some initial benchmarks.

Steam Deck AMD APU Performance For Non-Gaming CPU Workloads
Since the release at the end of February of Valve's Steam Deck there has been numerous Phoronix readers wondering about the CPU performance of the Steam Deck's AMD APU in non-gaming workloads and just how viable the Steam Deck could be for a converged device for desktop uses. Here is some commentary on that front and benchmark results.
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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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