Linux 5.15, AMD / Radeon Advancements, Intel SDSi Dominated Discussions This Month

Written by Michael Larabel in Phoronix on 1 October 2021 at 12:00 AM EDT. 7 Comments
That's a wrap for September with 229 original news articles and another 13 featured Linux hardware reviews / multi-page benchmark articles, all written by your's truly. It was another eventful month with Linux 5.15 moving forward, a lot of driver activity by AMD and Intel, and other open-source milestones like the release of GNOME 41 and the shipping of the Ubuntu 21.10 and Fedora 35 beta releases.

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With that said, the most popular news for September included:

Google Finally Shifting To "Upstream First" Linux Kernel Approach For Android Features
Google's Android had been notorious for all of its downstream patches carried by the mobile operating system as well as various vendor/device kernel trees while in recent years more of that code has been upstreamed. Google has also been shifting to the Android Generic Kernel Image (GKI) as the basis for all their product kernels to further reduce the fragmentation. Looking ahead, Google is now talking of an "upstream first" approach for pushing new kernel features.

Linux 5.15 Is A Very Exciting Kernel For AMD
While working on my usual Linux kernel feature overview that summarizes the many articles over the past two weeks outlining all of the new features and changes merged, one area that particularly stands out for Linux 5.15 are all of AMD's upstream contributions that happened to make it in this kernel. There is a lot of new enablement on the AMD side -- both for CPUs and Radeon graphics -- but also improving existing hardware support.

Multiple Games Are Now Working With RADV's Ray-Tracing Code
Not only is Intel progressing with its open-source ray-tracing driver support but the Mesa Radeon Vulkan driver "RADV" has been rounding out its RT code too and now has multiple games correctly rendering.

The Latest Progress On Rust For The Linux Kernel
While the Rust programming language support for usage within the kernel isn't landing for the Linux 5.15 merge window ending this weekend, that effort remains ongoing. A status update on the effort was shared this week about Rust usage for the Linux kernel.

NVIDIA Confirms Sway Wayland Compositor Works Fine With Their New GBM Driver Support
Stemming from an ongoing Mesa GBM discussion over introducing new gbm_bo_create_with_modifiers2 / gbm_surface_create_with_modifiers2 functions since the original "gbm_*_create_with_modifiers" functions lack support for passing usage flags, NVIDIA confirmed that the Sway Wayland compositor is working fine with their forthcoming driver supporting GBM.

Samsung 860/870 SSDs Continue Causing Problems For Linux Users
While Samsung has explicitly stated before that queued TRIM works for Samsung 860 SSDs on Linux and thus leading to only older Samsung 840/850 drives being blocked from queued TRIM usage, that turns out to be inaccurate and now more quirks are added for the Samsung 860 and 870 series SSDs on Linux.

The New NTFS File-System Driver Has Been Submitted For Linux 5.15
It looks like Paragon Software's NTFS3 kernel driver providing much better Linux support for the Microsoft NTFS file-system will land for the 5.15 kernel!

Facebook Has Been Working On BOLT'ing The Linux Kernel For Greater Performance
For several years now Facebook engineers have been working on BOLT as a way to speed-up Linux/ELF binaries. This "Binary Optimization and Layout Tool" is able to re-arrange executables once profiled to generate even faster performance than what can be achieved by a compiler's LTO and PGO optimizations. One of the latest BOLT efforts has been on optimizing the Linux kernel image.

Firefox 92 vs. Chrome 94 Browser Benchmarks On Ubuntu Linux
Given last week's release of Chrome 94, here are some fresh browser benchmarks looking at Firefox 92 stable against Chrome 94 running on Ubuntu Linux.

Linux 5.15 Enabling "-Werror" By Default For All Kernel Builds
A change made by Linus Torvalds and merged today for Linux 5.15 is enabling the "-Werror" compiler flag by default for all kernel builds.

Linux 5.15's New "-Werror" Behavior Is Causing A Lot Of Pain
Landing this past weekend was the surprise move by Linus Torvalds to enable "-Werror" behavior by default for all kernel builds. That compiler flag addition makes all warnings be treated as errors, which in turn stops the kernel build. As expected, this change has led to quite a mess.

"Intel Software Defined Silicon" Coming To Linux For Activating Extra Licensed Hardware Features
There has been talk of Intel moving to offer more license-able/opt-in features for hardware capabilities found within a given processor as an upgrade. We are now seeing the Linux signs of that support coming with a driver for "Intel Software Defined Silicon" to allow for the secure activation of such features baked into the processor's silicon but only available as an up-charge option.

AMD Posts New "AMD-PSTATE" CPUFreq Driver Leveraging CPPC For Better Perf-Per-Watt
At last! AMD has posted the Linux kernel driver patches for their new "AMD-PSTATE" driver! This driver with modern AMD Zen CPUs (initially limited to Zen 3) to achieve greater performance per Watt / power efficiency on Linux than the conventional ACPI CPUFreq driver.

Epic Games Announces Easy Anti-Cheat For Linux - Including Wine/Proton
Not too surprising given the Steam Deck is inching closer towards release and we've known Valve has been working to improve the anti-cheat situation for games on Linux, but today EAC owner Epic Games officially announced Easy Anti-Cheat for both Linux and macOS.

Linux 5.15 Addressing Scalability Issue That Caused Huge IBM Servers 30+ Minutes To Boot
Very large IBM mainframes/servers were taking 30+ minutes to boot the Linux kernel... No, just not for POST'ing the system with memory training and the like, but for loading Linux. Fortunately, with the Linux 5.15 kernel there is a set of scalability enhancements to allow these large IBM systems to be able to boot in around five minutes.

Lennart: Linux Comes Up Short Around Disk Encryption, Authenticated Boot Security
Most Linux distributions are currently coming up short from offering adequate security around full disk encryption and authenticated boot. Prominent Linux developer Lennart Poettering even argues that your data is "probably more secure if stored on current ChromeOS, Android, Windows or macOS devices."

Red Hat Is Hiring So Linux Can Finally Have Good HDR Display Support
One of the areas where Linux has struggled on the desktop has been around HDR (high dynamic range) display support while that will hopefully be addressed in the coming months with Red Hat hiring an engineer to focus on that problem.

BPF-Based Linux Firewall "bpfilter" Shows Impressive Performance Potential
Generating much excitement back in 2018 was bpfilter for the potential to better Linux's firewall and packet filtering by making it more robust and performance. Recently work on this BPF-based firewall solution was renewed and the performance potential over iptables and nftables is looking very good for the future.

X.Org Server Adds "AsyncFlipSecondaries" To Deal With Crappy Multi-Monitor Experience
At the moment when running the X.Org Server in a multi-monitor configuration with displays of different refresh rates, it can lead to a poor experience with a variety of visual deficiencies when running an unredirected full-screen window with page-flipping for DRI3/Present. There is now a change that was merged into the X.Org Server with a new "AsyncFlipSecondaries" to improve that experience when running multiple displays of varying refresh rates.

GNOME 41 Release Candidate Arrives With Many Improvements
Ahead of the official GNOME 41 release later this month, the release candidate is now available to facilitate more testing.

And the most popular featured articles/reviews:

Ubuntu 21.10 Performance Still Pushing Ahead Of Windows 10, Latest Windows 11 Build
With less than one month out from the official release of Microsoft Windows 11, I was curious to run some fresh benchmarks of the latest Windows 11 Insider Preview build against Windows 10 21H1 to see how the performance is looking. Of course, also to see how Windows 11 is shaping up against Ubuntu 21.10 also due for release in October.

SiFive HiFive Unmatched Hands-On, Initial RISC-V Performance Benchmarks
A few weeks ago I finally received the HiFive Unmatched from SiFive as their flagship RISC-V development board. As a reminder this is their mini-ITX development board that is powered by their U740 SoC and features 16GB of DDR4 system memory, one PCI Express x16 slot that can work with AMD Radeon graphics cards on Linux, and other features. It's been a delight playing with this developer platform and enclosed are some early benchmarks as well showing off the U740 performance as well as how the Linux software support/performance has been evolving.

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G / Ryzen 7 5700G Linux Gaming Benchmarks
Recently with my Linux benchmarks of the Ryzen 5 5600G and Ryzen 7 5700G Zen 3 APUs with Radeon Vega graphics I touched on the GPU graphics/compute performance in some of the basic benchmarks while in this article are a number of Steam Play and native Linux gaming benchmarks for looking at the potential for these latest-generation desktop APUs for Linux gaming.

AMD Ryzen 5 5600G Linux Performance
Last month were our benchmarks of the AMD Ryzen 7 5700G on Linux for that new desktop APU with Zen 3 cores and Vega graphics available through retail channels. Due to reader interest and with the Ryzen 5 5600G still readily available via Internet retailers, here is a look at the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G Linux performance in a variety of benchmarks.

Windows 11 WSL2 Performance Is Quite Competitive Against Ubuntu 20.04 LTS / Ubuntu 21.10
Recently I carried out some updated Windows 11 benchmarks against Linux to look at how this forthcoming Microsoft operating system release is competing with Ubuntu. In this article is a fresh look at the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL2) performance on the near-final Windows 11 against Ubuntu Linux.

Benchmarking The Performance Impact Of Linux 5.15's Newest Protection Around Side Channel Attacks
With the in-development Linux 5.15 kernel there is a new option for further protecting the kernel around side channel attacks and information leakage. Enabling the option will ensure that any caller-used register contents are zeroed prior to returning from a function. While the reported performance cost is said to be small, I decided to run some benchmarks when toggling this new Kconfig hardening option.

Running Linux 5.15-rc1 Causing A New Slowdown... Here's A Look
As usual when the Linux 5.15 merge window began wrapping up, I set out to dive into its performance to see what is in store for this next version of the kernel and whether there was any regressions or other performance changes worth noting. Linux 5.15 overall has been in good shape for the "-rc1" state except noticing that code compilation workloads were taking longer on multiple Linux 5.15-rc1-running systems than Linux 5.14 or prior. Seeing it across multiple systems and a very real-world regression, it was worth bisecting and looking closer so here are the details.

NVIDIA RTX 30 Series Resizable BAR Support Continues Helping Performance On Linux
While NVIDIA has been supporting Resizable BAR for a while now with their GeForce RTX 30 series graphics cards, for those exclusively using Linux it remains more of a challenge due to AIB partners generally not releasing any vBIOS updates for ReBAR support that can be easily applied under Linux. But if you do carry out an update -- such as under Windows -- the performance uplift can be worthwhile if using a game that can benefit from the support.

Ampere Altra Max M128-30 Linux Performance Preview
The past month we have started our testing of Ampere's Altra Max M128-30, the company's new 128 core server processor, and in this article today are our initial benchmarks of this promising chip for high core count servers in both 1P and 2P configurations tested.

An Early Look At The AMD P-State CPPC Driver Performance vs. ACPI CPUFreq
Earlier this month AMD posted their initial public patches for the AMD P-State CPU frequency scaling driver that leverages ACPI CPPC for ultimately aiming to provide better power efficiency and more responsive CPU frequency scaling / performance state decisions on Zen 3 (and Zen 2 eventually) processors. This is part of the effort around AMD and Valve collaborating for better Linux efficiency especially with the AMD-powered Steam Deck.
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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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