The New Features & Improvements Of The Linux 5.3 Kernel

Written by Michael Larabel in Software on 21 July 2019 at 10:49 AM EDT. Page 1 of 1. 7 Comments.

The Linux 5.3 kernel merge window is expected to close today so here is our usual recap of all the changes that made it into the mainline tree over the past two weeks. There is a lot of changes to be excited about from Radeon RX 5700 Navi support to various CPU improvements and ongoing performance work to supporting newer Apple MacBook laptops and Intel Speed Select Technology enablement.

Our highlights for the Linux 5.3 kernel of new and improved functionality include:

Linux Graphics:

- Initial AMDGPU Navi support for the new Radeon RX 5700 series That was already complemented by a round of Navi fixes this weekend.

- Turing TU116 support within the open-source Nouveau driver for limited NVIDIA graphics support.

- Intel HDR display support is now ready to go from the kernel-side for Icelake and Geminilake or newer. But some areas of the Linux user-space still aren't quite ready for the high dynamic range bits. AMDGPU also saw HDR meta-data support added.

- The MSM DRM driver now supports Qualcomm's Adreno 540 GPU.

- Compute shader support for the Broadcom V3D driver used by the likes of the Raspberry Pi 4.

- Various other DRM updates.

- New on the media front is the Amlogic Meson video decoder driver and other video decode improvements.

- As a word of warning on the graphics front, kernel developers intentionally landed a change that heavily breaks the NVIDIA driver on POWER architectures. NVIDIA will need to work around this with a new POWER Linux driver release but how soon they will be able to fix this remains to be seen.


- Intel Speed Select Technology is now supported as a feature initially found on Intel Cascadelake processors. Speed Select allows more granular power/performance controls on a per-core basis.

- Several new Arm SoCs and boards are supported while improving the state of existing boards like the NVIDIA Jetson Nano.

- Continued maturing of the RISC-V code in the kernel for this open-source processor ISA.

- Intel Icelake NNPI support was added to various drivers.

- A Raspberry Pi CPUFreq driver for its Broadcom SoC was finally added to the kernel.

- Linux 5.3 will better track AVX-512 usage by applications for allowing more optimal task placement of AVX-512 workloads for user-space task schedulers and others wondering if an application is actively making use of AVX-512.

- The Linux perf performance counter subsystem has begun preparing for Intel's Snow Ridge.

- Intel multi-die CPU topology support for Cascadelake AP processors.

- Intel UMWAIT support.

- Official support for x86 Zhaoxin CPUs for the Chinese processors derived from VIA x86 tech.

- Various 64-bit ARM updates from AVMv8.5 bits to system call emulation support.

Linux Storage / File-Systems:

- UBIFS now supports Zstd file-system compression.

- The NFS client now allows multiple TCP connections to the server via a new "nconnect=" mount option.

- A VirtIO-PMEM driver was introduced for para-virtualized persistent memory support following the VirtIO specification.

- Lots of exciting things for Ceph.

- Clean-ups for Btrfs and XFS.

- F2FS has native SWAP file support.

- Faster case-insensitive look-ups for EXT4 in building on this optional feature originally introduced in Linux 5.2.

- LZ4 in-place decompression for EROFS.


- 2015-ish MacBook and MacBook Pros will now have working keyboard and trackpad support thanks to the Apple SPI driver that was merged this weekend.

- ASUS TUF Gaming Laptop support within the ASUS WMI driver.

- Chrome OS platform additions including a lid angle sensor driver and other drivers for dealing with Google's custom embedded controller on Chromebooks and other newer hardware bits.

Other Hardware:

- New input device support including different Wacom tablets, a Saitek racing wheel, and other devices.

- Better 100GbE network driver support and the new Google GVE network driver for a new network device to be used by the Google Compute Engine.

- Continued work on Intel Sound Open Firmware plus a number of Cirrus Logic and Realtek audio codecs are now supported by the Linux kernel too.


- ACRN guest hypervisor support for this Intel-developed small footprint hypervisor focused on IoT, real-time, and safety-critical use-cases.

- The kernel now enables the -Wimplicit-fallthrough compiler flag for spotting switch case fall-through behavior for detecting possible bugs or unexpected behavior.

- Utilization clamping in the scheduler with a focus on Arm's Energy Aware Scheduling.

- Intelligent Platform Management Bus driver support for a standardized interconnect between boards in a chassis.

- Another new VirtIO driver merged for Linux 5.3 is the VirtIO-IOMMU driver for providing a virtual IOMMU device to guests.

- The Linux kernel now supports compressed firmware files for shaving a few hundred megabytes of disk space if compressing all the Linux firmware/microcode binaries.

- The new clone3 system call, Realtek driver updates, and various other summer updates.

- xxHash support was added to the crypto area.

- The FMC subsystem is being removed as the CERN developers decided it's easier to start from scratch than fix this subsystem.

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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