The Exciting New Features Of The Linux 4.14 Kernel: Zstd, Vega Hugepages, AMD SME, New Drivers
Written by Michael Larabel in Software on 17 September 2017. Page 1 of 1. 7 Comments

With Linux 4.14-rc1 having been released one day early, here is our look at the new features of Linux 4.14 with the merge window having been closed. There's a lot to get excited about with Linux 4.14 from graphics driver improvements, new hardware improvements, a new Realtek WiFi driver, a PWM vibrator driver, and Btrfs Zstd compression support..

As a reminder, Linux 4.14 is also going to be the 2017 Long-Term Stable (LTS) release of the kernel. Highlights from Linux 4.14 through our original reporting on the merge window over the past two weeks includes:

Graphics:

- Vega improvements in AMDGPU, most notably on the feature side being the addition of hugepage support in the name of performance. But Linux 4.14 doesn't land the AMDGPU DC display code. There has also been command submission (CS) overhead reductions for Linux 4.14 in AMDGPU.

- On the compute side, AMDKFD has been upstreaming more patches.

- Nouveau DRM updates for open-source NVIDIA include GP108 / GT 1030 mode-setting support but no hardware acceleration for this chip yet due to being blocked by signed firmware images.

- Intel's DRM driver has been working on more Cannonlake "Gen 10" graphics enablement.

- HDMI CEC support for Raspberry Pi as well as in the Allwinner Sunxi driver.

- Power management improvements for Freedreno MSM.

- Other DRM subsystem updates.

- Various FBDEV improvements.

Processors:

- Intel 5-level paging support to increase the amount of physical and virtual memory supported on Linux x86-64 systems in conjunction with future Intel CPUs.

- AMD Secure Memory Encryption has landed in supporting this new memory encryption tech for AMD EPYC processors.

- AMD Secure Processor support has seen some reworks and improvements for crypto, etc.

- Intel Cache Quality Monitoring code was rewritten.

- More Intel P-State improvements and other CPUfreq work.

- ARM64 improvements while Raspberry Pi Zero W, Banana Pi, and many other new board support can be found with the mainline 4.14 kernel.

- SPARC CPU improvements, including M7/M8 CPU optimizations.

- Xen and KVM updates as well as optimizations for Microsoft Hyper-V.

- Various MIPS updates while also retiring R6000 series support.

File-Systems / Storage:

- Zstd compression support was added to the kernel itself and wired up in Btrfs and SquashFS as new means of file-system compression. Early Zstd file-system compression numbers are promising while I will have some tests of my own completed soon.

- Various Btrfs fixes and prep work for merging new features in the next cycles.

- EXT4 scalability improvements are yielding performance improvements for some users.

- XFS has received more fixes.

- CFQ and BFQ updates for these I/O schedulers.

- F2FS tuning for Android.

Devices:

- Realtek rtlwifi is added to staging as the Realtek RTL8822BE 802.11ac WLAN driver.

- New sound hardware support.

- The usual variety of HID updates.

- Many new media drivers.

- A PWM-controlled vibrator driver that initially will be used by the Droid 4.

Other:

- Linux 4.14 has done away with in-tree kernel firmware to better enforce that firmware blobs belong in linux-firmware.git.

- Cgroup2 threading support was merged.

- EFI improvements including better handling of some quirky systems around rebooting.

- The ORC unwinder may not seem exciting to most, but it allows frame pointers to now be disabled while still producing a practical kernel for debugging. By disabling the frame pointers, the Linux kernel can be made a few percent faster. Ubuntu is among the distributions having shipped their kernels with CONFIG_FRAME_POINTER enabled.

If I missed any other interesting changes of Linux 4.14, feel free to point them out in the forums. I'll now begin my Linux 4.14 kernel benchmarks of the various changes, so stay tuned to Phoronix. If you appreciate all of our Linux benchmarks and kernel coverage, consider showing your support by joining Phoronix Premium or making a PayPal tip.


About The Author
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.


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