Intel Architecture Day 2021 & The Linux State
Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 19 August 2021. Page 1 of 6. 28 Comments

Intel this week hosted a virtual Architecture Day where they talked up their latest efforts from Alder Lake and Sapphire Rapids to their next-generation discrete graphics capabilities as well as other new offerings around IPUs and more. Here are the highlights from Intel Architecture Day 2021 and with a particular focus from our Linux angle.

There was a - lot - of new material from Architecture Day 2021 on Intel's vast product offerings. In this article are the highlights and then my added commentary from the Linux perspective based on what relevant patches have been posted previously or the overall state and expectations from the Linux/open-source area where Phoronix provides its value and distinction from other publications that will also be covering this news for today's embargo lift. It's thanks to Intel's great open-source/Linux support over the past nearly two decades that much of what was covered during Intel Architecture Day is already seeing enablement and for much of that already open-source and upstream in the Linux kernel and other components or at least working their way upstream.

When it comes to Alder Lake, the "Efficient Core" was talked about first, known to now as the Gracemont codename. Alder Lake's efficient cores will feature a 64KB instruction cache, branch prediction improvements, dual three-wide out-of-order decoders, seventeen execution ports, and up to a 4MB L2 cache shared between four cores. There is support for Intel Resource Director Technology, which has seen Linux support worked on in recent years.

When it comes to Efficient Core instruction set usage, AVX VNNI is noted along with Intel Control-flow Enforcement Technology (CET), Intel VT-rp for Virtualization Technology Redirect Protection, FMA, and advanced speculative execution validation methodology. It took a while but Intel CET Linux support has been settling down for the Linux kernel. We've also seen AVX VNNI support work its way out to the compiler toolchains. Where I haven't seen any new patches for the Linux kernel has been around Intel VT-rp or the advanced speculative execution validation methodology, but we should seen soon enough if any new patches are coming down the pipe.

The Efficient Core should yield 40%+ greater performance over Skylake cores at the same power level or less than 40% the power consumption if sticking to the same level of performance. Or for throughput performance, it's an 80% difference over Skylake but note Intel is comparing a 4 core / 4 thread Efficient core to 2 core / 4 thread Skylake in that throughput figure.


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