Alder Lake, Kernel Optimizations & Steam Deck Happenings That Excited Linux Fans

Written by Michael Larabel in Phoronix on 30 November 2021 at 07:27 PM EST. Add A Comment
With another month of the pandemic in the books, here is a look back at the exciting Linux and open-source highlights that came about during the course of November. This month was particularly exciting for new Linux kernel developments, never-ending work on open-source graphics drivers, the much anticipated launch of Intel 12th Gen "Alder Lake", gamers continuing to clamor for the Steam Deck, and much more.

Below is a look at the most popular content on Phoronix during the past month. During the course of November on Phoronix were 238 original news articles and another 16 featured articles / Linux hardware reviews and other multi-page benchmark specials. If you enjoy Phoronix please consider this holiday season joining Phoronix Premium to experience the site ad-free, multi-page articles on a single page, and other benefits. PayPal tips are also accepted or at the very least please do not use any ad-blocker on this site. (Technically expiring tonight is the Black Friday / Cyber Monday premium special but if you are late on participating in that, I will still honor it for the rest of the week if you are only hearing about it now...) Thanks for your support due to the turbulent state of the ad industry / ad-blockers paired with the COVID-19 pandemic complications.

The most popular news for November included:

System76 Reportedly Developing Their Own Rust-Written Desktop, Not Based On GNOME
System76's Pop!_OS Linux distribution already has their own "COSMIC" desktop that is based on GNOME, but moving ahead they are working on their own Rust-written desktop that is not based on GNOME or any existing desktop environment.

It's Been 9 Years Since Valve Rolled Out The Steam Linux Beta
Today marks nine years already since Valve began rolling out their Steam Linux beta client after a very exciting summer. While the initial Steam on Linux excitement phased out a bit after Steam Machines didn't materialize, as we approach a decade with Steam on Linux it's easily as exciting as ever thanks to Steam Play / Proton for allowing massive amounts of Windows games to run on Linux and the imminent release of the Steam Deck that has fueled renewed interest around Linux gaming.

Linux 5.17 To Boast A Big TCP Performance Optimization
While the Linux 5.16 merge window just ended and that kernel won't be out until the tail end of the calendar year, already for Linux 5.17 new material is beginning to accumulate in the respective subsystem development trees... One set of changes merged this morning from Google can provide a sizable performance win around TCP performance in the datacenter.

Minecraft Now 30% Faster With Open-Source AMD Radeon Driver On Linux
Those using the open-source AMD Radeon OpenGL driver "RadeonSI" on Linux the performance within the popular Minecraft game is about to be a lot better.

Linux Prepares For Next-Gen AMD CPUs With Up To 12 CCDs
The latest Linux kernel patches confirm that next-gen AMD Zen processors are capable of featuring up to twelve CCDs.

Proton 6.3-8 Released With More Windows Games Playable, Support For Some BattlEye Games
It's been almost two months since Proton 6.3-7 released and two weeks since 6.3-8 RC while this evening that Proton 6.3-8 stable release is out for empowering Valve's Steam Play in running Windows games on Linux.

Valve Shares New Steam Deck Details, Proton Update Available For Testing
Valve today hosted the much anticipated Steam Deck Development Livestream where they and their partners at AMD talked more about the forthcoming Steam Deck's hardware and software.

Archinstall 2.3 Released For Easily Installing Arch Linux
Added to the Arch Linux install media back in April was Archinstall for easy and quick installations. It's worked very well for basic Arch Linux installs in a matter of minutes while with Archinstall 2.3 now available it has even more features.

On-Disk Format Changes Ahead To Improve "Painful" Parts Of Btrfs Design
Prominent Btrfs file-system developer Josef Bacik is working through a big set of patches that will result in on-disk format changes to Btrfs but address some of "the more painful parts" to the file-system's design.

KDE Plasma 5.24 Adds An Overview Effect Inspired By GNOME's Activities Overview
Even with the holidays ahead the KDE developers remain very busy improving their desktop software stack for Plasma 5.24 and other forthcoming component releases.

AMD Releases Updated Zen 3 CPU Microcode (November 2021)
A new Family 19h microcode binary was merged today into the linux-firmware.git repository that serves as the central source for all of the binary firmware/microcode files for Linux systems.

Wireshark 3.6 Released With Support For World of Warcraft "WOWW" Protocol, Many Others
Wireshark as the very useful and powerful open-source packet analyzer for networking and other communication protocols is out with a shiny new release.

Intel Posts Updated "Software Defined Silicon" Driver To Activate Licensed Hardware Features
Back in September we were first to report on Intel developing "Software Defined Silicon" support for being able to activate extra licensed hardware features not otherwise exposed. Intel hasn't talked about the controversial feature in terms of product plans but this weekend they posted a new revision of this Intel "SDSi" Linux driver.

Blender 3.0's Cycles X Rendering Performance Is Looking Great
A status update on Blender's "Cycles X" project was published today ahead of the upcoming Blender 3.0 release and with already some feature additions planned for Blender 3.1.

Experimental Zink On NVIDIA's Vulkan Driver Capable Of Outperforming OpenGL Driver
The latest Zink development code paired with the forthcoming "Copper" work is yielding an OpenGL-on-Vulkan implementation that when running on NVIDIA's proprietary Vulkan driver is even able to outperform NVIDIA's own proprietary OpenGL driver for at least one notable Linux game.

New Linux /dev/random RNG Revved For The 43rd Time
Going on for more than a half-decade now has been the effort around Linux Random Number Generator as a new /dev/random implementation for Linux. After more than five years, LRNG continues to work towards being mainlined and today marks the 43rd revision to these patches.

Microsoft Working On Direct3D 12 Video Acceleration For Mesa
Microsoft's latest work in the area of open-source graphics drivers with the Mesa stack is for adding Direct3D 12 video acceleration support.

Amazon Linux 2022 Released - Based On Fedora With Changes
Amazon Web Services has made Amazon Linux 2022 now publicly available in preview form as the newest version of their Linux distribution.

The Phoronix Premium Thanksgiving / Black Friday 2021 Special
For those in the US, Happy Thanksgiving. As usual tradition for marking the US Thanksgiving and "Black Friday" / "Cyber Monday" start of the Christmas shopping season, I am once again running a Phoronix Premium special to help support site operations.

Box86 + Box64 Updated For Running Linux x86/x86_64 Programs On Other Architectures
Box86 as the open-source project to run Linux x86 binaries on other CPU architectures like ARM is out with a new feature release along with the accompanying Box64 project for x86_64 treatment. With today's Box86 update is even expanded Vulkan support now good enough for handling DXVK.

And the most popular featured articles:

Intel Core i5 12600K / Core i9 12900K "Alder Lake" Linux Performance
With the Intel 12th Gen Core processors shipping today along with the new line-up of Z690 motherboards, the review embargo lifts for talking about these Intel "Alder Lake" processors. While by now you've likely heard a lot about Intel Alder Lake on Windows and various leaked benchmarks with Windows 11, how does these processors with the new hybrid architecture work and perform on Linux? Here are the initial benchmarks and support information for Intel's Core i5 12600K and Core i9 12900K processors under Ubuntu Linux.

The Framework Laptop Is Great For A Linux-Friendly, Upgradeable/Modular Laptop
While many Linux users were excited years ago around EOMA68 and in part the possibility of an open, upgradeable laptop design, it has yet to ship and looking like it never will -- not to mention being very outdated specifications by today's standards. Entirely unrelated to that prior upgradeable hardware effort but continuing in similar goals is The Framework Laptop. The Framework Laptop is a thin, upgradeable notebook that is Linux-friendly and allows the user to easily upgrade their own components. I was testing The Framework Laptop for a while and from the hardware perspective is a very nice device and running well under Linux.

Windows 11 Better Than Linux Right Now For Intel Alder Lake Performance
While we are used to running AMD and Intel benchmarks between Microsoft Windows and Linux while most often finding that our favorite open-source operating systems normally lead the race from desktops through HEDT and server platforms, when it comes to the Core i9 12900K "Alder Lake" that is currently not the case. Going into this round of Windows vs. Linux testing quite curious given some Intel hybrid architecture oddities we have been seeing under Linux, indeed when hitting Windows 11 and an assortment of Linux distributions with benchmarks we were left disappointed. Not only did Windows 11 come out faster overall, but related is now Linux also had much higher run-to-run variance due to the mix of P and E cores with Thread Director not making the wisest choices under Linux.

Intel UHD Graphics 770 / Alder Lake GT1 Linux Graphics Performance
Published yesterday was the Core i5 12600K / Core i9 12900K Linux review looking at the exciting performance uplift provided by Alder Lake. One of the areas only talked about briefly in yesterday's article were the UHD Graphics 770 found with these new desktop processors, due to time constraints with only having a few days so far for carrying out tests. Today the initial batch of UHD Graphics 770 / ADL-S GT1 Linux graphics/gaming benchmarks have wrapped up to show how the Intel graphics performance compares to prior generation Rocket Lake as well as AMD's Ryzen 7 5700G.

DDR4 vs. DDR5 Memory Performance For Intel Core i5-12600K Alder Lake On Linux
Given current memory pricing and extremely limited availability of DDR5 memory modules, many Phoronix readers have been requesting DDR4 vs. DDR5 memory benchmarks for Alder Lake on Linux. After picking up a DDR4 Z690 motherboard, here are some reference benchmarks between DDR4 and DDR5 when testing with the Core i5 12600K on Ubuntu Linux in a variety of real-world workloads.

AMD P-State v4 Linux Testing On A Ryzen 5 5500U
With AMD having published a new revision to their AMD P-State Linux CPU frequency scaling driver that they are working towards mainlining with a goal of better power efficiency on Linux, here are some initial benchmarks of that new patch series when using a Ryzen 5 5500U notebook.

Intel Core i9 12900K "Alder Lake" AVX-512 On Linux
While it was initially communicated by Intel that Alder Lake's Golden Cove P-Cores has AVX-512 "fused off", that has turned out not to be the case at least with the initial batch of processors and current BIOS/firmware configurations. If disabling the power-efficient Gracemont E-Cores, it's possible to enable AVX-512 and make use of it. Here are some initial AVX-512 benchmarks in such a configuration under Linux with the Core i9 12900K.

Linux 5.16 Features Include FUTEX2, Intel AMX, Folios, DG2/Alchemist, More Apple Silicon Support
Now that the Linux 5.16 merge window has ended with yesterday's Linux 5.16-rc1 release, here is my lengthy original overview of what I find most interesting out of this new kernel version. Linux 5.16 won't be out as stable until around the end of the calendar year or early next year, but it will sure make one nice Christmas gift with all of the shiny new features in tow.

Linux 5.16's New Cluster Scheduling Is Causing Regression, Further Hurting Alder Lake
Linux 5.16-rc1 is coming out later today and already I'm seeing some fallout in the new kernel's performance... In particular, bad news for Alder Lake that is already seeing the Linux performance trailing Windows 11 seemingly due to the lack of Thread Director integration right now in the kernel and any other missing optimizations around Intel's hybrid architecture. A new feature of Linux 5.16 is unfortunately having unintended regressions for Alder Lake with at least the flagship Core i9 12900K. Here are the results from the latest kernel bisecting that uncovered this latest upstream slowdown.

AMD EPYC 7003 Series Performance Across Autumn 2021 Linux Distributions
Recently I ran benchmarks showing how Ubuntu 21.10 performance has improved for AMD EPYC 7003 "Milan" even compared to just six months ago with Ubuntu 21.04. In this article is a broader look at AMD EPYC Milan on the autumn 2021 Linux distributions with firing up not only Ubuntu 21.10 but Fedora Server 35, Clear Linux 35150, CentOS Stream, and AlmaLinux 8.4 as other common alternatives in the Linux server space.

Here's to an exciting December!
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About The Author
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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