Linux 6.8 Features Excite With New Intel Xe Driver, Performance Optimizations & New Hardware

Written by Michael Larabel in Software on 23 February 2024 at 01:00 PM EST. Page 1 of 1. 16 Comments.

While the Linux 6.8 kernel merge window has been over for several weeks now, due to a busy February of new hardware releases and lots of Linux hardware reviews/benchmarking, I've been behind in writing up my Linux 6.8 feature recap. For those wanting a concise look at the many great changes coming with Linux 6.8 that will debut as stable in March, here's an overview of the interesting Linux 6.8 changes.

Linux 6.8 is packing a lot of great features, performance optimizations, and new hardware support. It's great as Ubuntu 24.04 LTS is aiming to use Linux 6.8 as are other spring Linux distribution updates. Linux 6.8 makes the Intel Xe DRM driver experimentally available, finally lands the in-kernel IAA accelerator driver, provides AMD WBRF support, more ongoing work toward AMD Zen 5 platform support, initial support for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and X Elite SoCs, support for several cheap ARM-based gaming handheld devices, the initial PowerVR DRM/KMS kernel driver from Imagination, Raspberry Pi 5 graphics support on mainline, Nintendo NSO controller support, and much more.

Linux 6.8 Tux logo

Following is the look at the other Linux 6.8 kernel feature changes by subsystem.

Processors / Platforms:

- More AMD Zen 5 IDs were added as part of ongoing enablement of next-generation AMD hardware.

- AMD PMC driver support for Zen 5.

- Support for Intel QAT 420xx "GEN 5" hardware for QuickAssist Technology.

- There is also the Intel IAA in-kernel crypto compression driver for the Intel Analytics Accelerators found in various Xeon Scalable CPU models since Sapphire Rapids.

- Intel Lunar Lake Thunderbolt support.

- Rust kernel support for LoongArch CPUs.

- As part of the s390 changes is default disabling 31-bit enterprise system architecture (ESA) ELF binary support.

- IBM Z sees ~11% higher syscall entry performance with this new kernel.

- XIP kernel support for RISC-V has been restored for Execute In Place.

- Linux 6.8 better informs the user when x86 32-bit support is disabled at boot time.

- The ability for Intel Meteor Lake CPUs to clock higher on Linux 6.8 with an Intel P-State driver change.

- Intel LAM for KVM guests is now supported along with continued work around confidential VMs.

- More Intel TDX code for protecting KVM guests.

- Support for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and X Elite SoCs in the mainline kernel in initial form.

- Google Tensor G1 SoC support was finally upstreamed.

- Perf support for AMD Zen 4 memory controller events.

- Power management preparations for upcoming Intel server CPUs.

- An AMD CPU optimization to avoid unnecessarily serializing MSR accesses.

- EDAC support for AMD AI accelerators.

- Retiring ARM11 MPCore CPU support.

- AMD MicroBlaze V soft-core RISC-V CPU support.


- Initial bits of AMD color management code albeit not enabled by default right now.

- The new Intel Xe DRM kernel driver is available as an experimental alternative to the i915 driver. The Intel Xe driver is off to a nice start with hopes of it being stable to be used by default by the time of Intel Lunar Lake processors' integrated graphics with Xe2.

- The Imagination PowerVR DRM driver was finally upstreamed to go along with the PowerVR Vulkan driver in Mesa for select Rogue GPUs.

- Raspberry Pi 5 graphics driver support with V3D.

- AMD GFXOFF support when running ROCm compute apps on RDNA3 GPUs to help conserve power/thermals.

- AMD WiFi WBRF radio frequency interference mitigation between the video memory clocks and WiFi hardware.

File-Systems / Storage:

- New system calls for more detailed file-system mount information.

- An EROFS optimization for low-memory scenarios.

- Bcachefs fixes and improvements as well as some nice performance work.

- Non-blocking lookups for the GFS2 cluster file-system.

- Btrfs metadata processing is now done using folios.

- EROFS sub-page compressed data support.

- F2FS improves zoned block device support.

- More XFS online repair functionality.

- Support for blocking writes to mounted block devices.

Other Hardware:

- More CXL feature code -- this time around CDAT parsing for the Coherent Device Attribute Table.

- Apple M1 USB4/Thunderbolt DART support.

- StarFive RISC-V SoC camera subsystem driver was upstreamed to better the StarFive kernel support.

- The AWS Nitro Secure Module driver finally made it upstream.

- Various Intel and AMD laptop support improvements.

- More sound hardware support including from AMD and Intel as well as for some USB audio mixers.

- The Gigabyte AORUS Waterforce driver has been upstreamed for exposing hardware monitoring metrics for that AIO liquid cooler from Gigabyte.

- Intel Gaudi 2C accelerator support.

- ACPI-based enumeration of CSI-2 / MIPI cameras.

- The first Rust-written PHY network driver.

- Dropping Intel Carrilo Ranch support.

Linux Gaming:

- Support for several cheap ARM-powered handheld game console devices.

- initial support for the Lenovo Legion Go's controllers for that handheld gaming console.

- Adafruit Seesaw Gamepad support.

- Steam Controller driver fixes backported from SteamOS.

- Nintendo Switch Online (NSO) controller support.


- AppArmor switches to SHA256 policy hashes for better security than SHA1.


- A Rust toolchain upgrade taking it to Rust 1.74.1.

- Dropping SLAB.

- More Linux scheduler tuning including to EEVDF.

- Continued clearing of the sysctl sentinel bloat.

- Linux networking updates can boost TCP performance for many concurrent connections by ~40%.

- Dropping old and obsolete network drivers.

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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