Linux 5.11 Is Heavy On New Features, Improvements For 2021

Written by Michael Larabel in Software on 27 December 2020 at 10:49 AM EST. Page 1 of 2. 13 Comments.

The Linux 5.11 merge window has been open the past two weeks following the debut of Linux 5.10 but is set to close today. A lot of new features and exciting improvements were merged for Linux 5.11 although it is somewhat of a bumpy ride at the moment but should be buttoned up and ready for its stable release come February.

Linux 5.11 is very heavy on new feature work for this post-LTS cycle and what will be the first major stable kernel release of 2021. There are a ton of Intel and AMD changes, Syscall User Dispatch for helping some newer Windows games run under Wine, continued IO_uring advancements, many Btrfs file-system improvements, Lenovo contributed ThinkPad palm sensor detection support, and much more.

On the Intel front specifically there is finally the SGX Enclaves support merged after years of work, Intel integer scaling support in their graphics driver, async page flipping in their graphics driver, a new "RFIM" driver for radio frequency interference mitigation, new device IDs around Rocket Lake and Alder Lake, WiFi 6GHz band support within their WiFi driver, and other work.

Meanwhile over on the AMD side there are new drivers around improving power management and sensor handling, CPU frequency invariance support (though with Schedutil is in bad shape on some systems as I've noted in other articles), the AMD Sensor Fusion Hub driver was finally merged for supporting the sensor functionality on Ryzen laptops, and various other improvements.

Linux 5.11 also sees new hardware support for obscure devices from the failed OUYA game console now running off a mainline Linux kernel to the Guitar Hero Live PS3 / Wii U dongles now being supported. Here is a look at the Linux 5.11 highlights from our original monitoring and reporting on its progress:


- Intel SGX enclaves support was finally merged after more than 40 rounds of code review that took years to complete but now mainlined for those wanting Software Guard Extensions.

- AMD S2idle support improvements.

- Intel P-State Schedutil is being tuned for better efficiency. Will be benchmarking it shortly.

- One feature being lost is AMD Zen voltage/current reporting is removed from the k10temp driver over lack of public documentation for being able to properly report the values for all hardware.

- Performance improvements for the like of AMD EPYC with PostgreSQL.

- Intel Platform Monitoring Technology is now supported as a hardware telemetry feature intended for organizations and data centers.

- OpenRISC and RISC-V improvements.

- AMD Zen/Zen2/Zen3 RAPL PowerCap support.

- Intel workload hints in INT340x and other power management work.

- Lots of new ARM hardware support including mainline support for the failed OUYA game console.

- The AMD Sensor Fusion Hub driver was finally merged.

- Zen 3 EPYC support in the AMD Energy driver.

- The AMD SB-TSI sensor driver was merged for the sideband temperature sensor interface on newer AMD server platforms.

- AND Frequency Invariance support for Zen 2 and newer. This with the Schedutil governor is intended to help make better CPU frequency scaling decisions but we are finding it to regress on many AMD systems and still performing more tests there. Stay tuned for more details on that regression.

- The AMD SoC PMC driver was mainlined for helping with power management on mobile/embedded hardware.

- A new Intel driver is the Intel IGEN6 driver for in-band ECC with new client SoCs, initially Elkhart Lake / Atom x6000E.

- Another new Intel driver is the RFIM code for Radio Frequency Interference Mitigation over tweaking the integrated voltage regular and DDR frequencies on select SoCs to mitigate WiFi and 5G wireless issues.

- KASLR support for Loongson 64.


- Initial support for AMD Van Gogh APUs.

- Initial support for AMD Green Sardine APUs.

- Support for Dimgrey Cavefish as another RDNA2 dGPU variant.

- Continued enablement on Intel DG1 graphics.

- Intel Keem Bay display support with a new driver added.

- Intel Integer Scaling support.

- Intel Big Joiner support for 8K outputs over a single port.

- Intel async page-flipping support.

- Some performance improvements for the Radeon RX 6800 series.

- Many other DRM updates.

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