Linux 5.9 Features New GPU Support To Numerous Security + Performance Optimizations
Written by Michael Larabel in Software on 16 August 2020. Page 1 of 2. 10 Comments

Linux 5.9-rc1 is set to be released this evening in marking the end of the two-week long merge window where new features are introduced for the cycle.

Linux 5.9 is shaping up to be another big release with as of writing having seen 456k lines of code added to the kernel tree this merge window since v5.8. For the Linux 5.9 merge window as of now there's been 727,379 insertions and 270,919 lines of code removed across 13,177 files. In comparison the Linux 5.8 merge window that was one of the largest ever saw 543k lines of code added while Linux 5.7 of its more modest size saw 263k lines added back during its merge window.

Among the many changes to find with Linux 5.9 is AMD/Intel CPUs can finally benefit from FSGSBASE support in the kernel as a performance win in some areas, initial AMD Navi 2 graphics support, initial Rocket Lake and DG1 graphics support on the Intel side, checkpoint/restore capabilities for unprivileged processes, NVMe ZNS support, a safeguard for fending off "shims" from using GPL-only symbols when really being used by proprietary drivers, and even a multi-color LED framework is introduced.

Among the many changes in Linux 5.9 are listed below thanks to our original reporting and tracking on the kernel developments as they happen. If you enjoy the Phoronix recaps, consider showing your support by joining Phoronix Premium.

Processors / Platforms

- FSGSBASE is finally mainlined in offering various performance benefits.

- The Intel P-State driver for frequency scaling now supports operating in passive mode with hardware p-states (HWP) enabled.

- P2PDMA is now enabled for usage with all AMD Zen CPUs and newer for peer-to-peer direct memory access between multiple PCI Express devices.

- Continued POWER10 enablement for these upcoming IBM/OpenPOWER processors.

- Improved TLB flushing on OpenRISC.

- Intel Keem Bay support.

- Support for using the Intel SERIALIZE instruction to be found on future CPUs.

- More RISC-V architecture features have been implemented.

- ARM/ARM64 is now defaulting to Schedutil as the default CPU frequency scaling governor.

- Removal of the Unicore 32-bit RISC architecture.

Graphics

- AMD Sienna Cichlid and Navy Flounder support as the first GFX10.3 / Navi 2 graphics processors. These GPUs are expected to be launched later this year. Besides Linux 5.9+, Mesa 20.2 and LLVM 11.0 are also needed for the open-source driver support.

- Intel Rocket Lake support for that desktop CPU expected next year with Gen12 graphics.

- The first-cut DG1 support for Intel's Xe discrete graphics card. The initial bits are in place but will likely be a few kernel releases before it's all in good standing.

- Many other open-source graphics/display driver improvements.

Motherboards & More Hardware

- Support for a lot of new audio hardware as well as Intel Silent Stream support.

- Intel Emmitsburg support has begun appearing.

- Continued work on USB4.

- A new driver for the Corsair Commander Pro.

Storage / File-Systems

- Many IO_uring improvements.

- Btrfs performance improvements and other optimizations.

- FSCRYPT inline encryption for use with modern SoCs.

- Secure TRIM for F2FS along with garbage collection enhancements and more for this Flash-Friendly File-System.

- Many improvements for XFS.

- The NFS client and NFS server now support user extended attributes "user xattrs" with NFSv4.

- Intel has led support for NVDIMM firmware updates without needing system reboots.

- NVMe ZNS support for zoned namespaces.


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