Recapping Intel's Open-Source/Linux Achievements For 2021
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 30 December 2021 at 05:38 AM EST. Add A Comment
INTEL --
It was another exciting year for Intel on the open-source/Linux front with countless contributions to the Linux kernel, Mesa, and other open-source projects. Intel's oneAPI toolkits continue humming along and they continue maintaining tons of other projects from Clear Linux to SVT-AV1 to IWD and many more. Intel's Linux graphics driver developers have also been extremely busy preparing the open-source support for next year's discrete GPU launches. Here is a look at the most popular Intel articles on Phoronix during the course of 2021.

As part of our various year-end recaps, below is a look at the most-viewed Intel Linux/open-source news stories on Phoronix this year. This list is just looking at the original open-source/Linux-related Intel news and not all of the Intel Linux hardware reviews, featured benchmark articles, etc.


Of the 300+ original Intel news articles on Phoronix in 2021, those capturing the most reader interest included:

Intel To Disable TSX By Default On More CPUs With New Microcode
Intel is going to be disabling Transactional Synchronization Extensions (TSX) by default for various Skylake through Coffee Lake processors with forthcoming microcode updates. Yes, this does mean performance implications for workloads benefiting from TSX. This change has seemingly not been talked about much at all publicly and I just happened to become aware of it when looking through new kernel patches.

Linux 5.15-rc5 x86 Changes Aim To Fix "Yet Another Hardware Trainwreck"
Sent in this morning were an urgent set of x86 updates for the Linux 5.15-rc5 kernel due out later today.

Linux 5.13 Lands More Fixes To The Mucked Up FPU/XSTATE Handling Mess
Earlier this month Linux 5.13 disabled Intel's ENQCMD functionality for upcoming Xeon "Sapphire Rapids" processors as the kernel software code around it was deemed "broken beyond repair". More of the recent Intel-submitted patches around reworking kernel code in preparation for upcoming CPU features has been found to be rather hairy after already being mainlined and thus another batch of urgent x86 fixes were sent in this morning.

Intel's Lead Developer Of Their Linux Vulkan Driver Has Left The Company
Coming as a surprise to end out the week is confirmation that the lead developer and architect for Intel's Linux Vulkan driver has left the company.

"Intel Software Defined Silicon" Coming To Linux For Activating Extra Licensed Hardware Features
There has been talk of Intel moving to offer more license-able/opt-in features for hardware capabilities found within a given processor as an upgrade. We are now seeing the Linux signs of that support coming with a driver for "Intel Software Defined Silicon" to allow for the secure activation of such features baked into the processor's silicon but only available as an up-charge option.

Intel Announces Iris Xe Desktop Graphics For OEMs
Intel today announced Iris Xe (DG1) discrete graphics cards are coming to select OEM systems with ASUS being one of their initial partners.

Intel Contributes AVX-512 Optimizations To Numpy, Yields Massive Speedups
Intel has contributed AVX-512 optimizations to upstream Numpy. For those using Numpy as this leading Python library for numerical computing, newer Intel CPUs with AVX-512 capabilities can enjoy major speed-ups in the range of 14~32x faster.

That Linux 5.12 Severe Data Corruption Bug Hits Intel CI Systems - Issue Caused By Swap File
Last week I issued a warning of possible data loss on the early Linux 5.12 kernel code that was reliably leaving my test systems severely corrupted. Intel's internal graphics test systems it turns out have now been bitten by this issue in encountering this significant file-system corruption and as such they've been quick to jump on the issue - there's now an idea what's causing the nasty issue and a workaround by reverting select patches.

Mesa 21.2 Released With New Intel Crocus Driver, PanVK, Early M1 Code
Mesa 21.2 is out as the latest quarterly update to this open-source Linux graphics driver stack for user-space, most notably providing the Intel and Radeon OpenGL/Vulkan drivers among others.

Intel Posts Updated "Software Defined Silicon" Driver To Activate Licensed Hardware Features
Back in September we were first to report on Intel developing "Software Defined Silicon" support for being able to activate extra licensed hardware features not otherwise exposed. Intel hasn't talked about the controversial feature in terms of product plans but this weekend they posted a new revision of this Intel "SDSi" Linux driver.

Intel Posts Initial Code For x86 User Interrupts On Linux - Shows Great Performance Potential
In addition to the big Advanced Matrix Extensions support still being in flux and the kernel-side AMX code not yet being merged, another feature of next year's Xeon "Sapphire Rapids" that we are only now seeing in early published form for the Linux kernel is handling of x86 user interrupts.

The 12 Most Interesting Changes Of Linux 5.12 - PS5, N64, Intel VRR, RDNA2 OverDrive
If all goes well the Linux 5.12 stable kernel will be released this weekend. It's been a fairly calm week so far in Linux 5.12 Git land but if things tick up Linus Torvalds may defer the stable release by one week to allow for an eighth and final release candidate. In any case, Linux 5.12 is packing a lot of exciting changes.

Researchers Discover Intel CPU Ring Interconnects Vulnerable To Side Channel Attack
University of Illinois researchers have discovered that Intel's CPU ring interconnects are vulnerable to exploit by side-channel attacks. This opens a whole new can of worms with the cross-core interconnect now being vulnerable to exploit but so far Intel doesn't appear to be overly concerned and there are some open questions on whether this interconnect exploit would still work with the latest Intel Xeon processors.

Intel Releases New CPU Microcode Due To New Security Vulnerabilities (June 2021)
Intel just issued a big set of CPU microcode updates for addressing a new set of security advisories just made public.

Linux Kernel Orphans Itanium Support, Linus Torvalds Acknowledges Its Death
Just last week I wrote about Itanium IA-64 support in Linux kernel being broken for a month during the Linux 5.11 kernel cycle. That was fixed but since then another regression came to light that had been affecting all IA-64 hardware since a patch was merged back in October. A fix for that latest regression has landed while in the process now marking the Itanium architecture as orphaned.

Even In 2021, Intel Squeezes Some Very Nice Performance Gains Out Of Their OpenGL Driver
While it's 2021 and many modern Linux gaming and other workloads are focusing on the Vulkan API, Intel isn't letting up in their aggressive optimizations to their open-source "Iris" OpenGL Gallium3D driver for Linux systems. With the latest Mesa 21.1 code today there is a set of patches providing up to 17% better performance in some games while other OpenGL software is generally a few percent faster at least. In some micro-benchmarks it can be more than 50% faster.

Intel Begins Preparing Linux Graphics Driver For Multi-Tile Hardware
Intel has been preparing Xe HP bring-up for many months already including fundamental work around their discrete graphics/accelerator support for their Linux graphics driver stack going back quite a while. On the Xe HP front, Friday afternoon brought an important patch series posted for the first time: initial work around multi-tile support.

Intel Fully Embracing LLVM For Their C/C++ Compilers
Intel's next-generation C/C++ compilers are fully leveraging the LLVM compiler stack in place of their former proprietary compiler code-base. Intel has "complete[d] adoption" of LLVM moving forward for their C/C++ compiler needs.

Intel Proposes Linux Kernel Driver Allow/Deny Filtering
As part of their work around Trust Domain Extensions (TDX) support for Linux, Intel engineers are proposing a driver filter option for Linux to be able to set allow or deny lists of driver(s) that can or cannot be loaded by the booted kernel.

Intel's Vulkan Driver Adds Conservative Rasterization - Helps DXVK/VKD3D For Linux Gaming
Intel's open-source "ANV" Vulkan driver now supports the Vulkan EXT_conservative_rasterization extension that is most notably used by DXVK for translating Direct3D atop this graphics API and work is also pending too for VKD3D.
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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 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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