New Intel Linux Features, Timely Hardware Support & More From Intel In 2020
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 30 December 2020 at 12:08 AM EST. 1 Comment
INTEL --
Intel engineers continued with their decade plus tradition of providing timely hardware support (sans the discrete graphics bring-up taking a bit longer), Intel continued showing what's possible with Linux performance by means of Clear Linux, and yes more security updates were among their popular interactions in 2020.

Intel remains on point with their punctual Linux hardware support and they remain one of the largest contributors to the Linux kernel - they remain an excellent example of how hardware vendors and organizations at large can interact optimally and contribute to the upstream kernel. This year they also began shipping their discrete graphics offerings that are still being properly wired up to the Linux kernel, oneAPI saw its initial Gold release, and Tiger Lake shipped as excitement on the mobile front. Looking ahead to next year is Rocket Lake, Alder Lake, Ice Lake Xeon, and surely at least as equally interesting open-source software work.

Among the most popular Intel news articles on Phoronix for 2020 included:

AMD vs. Intel Contributions To The Linux Kernel Over The Past Decade
Driven by curiosity sake, here is a look at how the total number of AMD and Intel developers contributed to the upstream Linux kernel during the 2010s as well as the total number of commits each year from the respective hardware vendors.

Linus Torvalds: "I Hope AVX512 Dies A Painful Death"
Linux creator Linus Torvalds had some choice words today on Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (AVX-512) found on select Intel processors.

The Linux Kernel Obsoletes The Intel Simple Firmware Interface
We haven't heard of the Simple Firmware Interface in a number of years, but that changed this week in Linux now formally marking SFI as "obsolete" and confirmation Intel does not plan to ship any future platforms with this standard that dates back to their early days of working on Atom-powered mobile devices.

Intel KVM Virtualization Hit By Vulnerability Over Unfinished Code
At least not another hardware vulnerability, but CVE-2020-2732 appears to stem from unfinished code within the Intel VMX code for the Linux kernel's Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) support.

Intel Making Progress On Their "mOS" Modified Linux Kernel Running Lightweight Kernels
For a while now Intel has been quietly been working on "mOS" as the "multi-OS" that is a modified version of the Linux kernel that in turn is running lightweight kernels for high-performance computing purposes.

How A Raspberry Pi 4 Performs Against Intel's Latest Celeron, Pentium CPUs
Following the recent Intel Comet Lake Celeron and Pentium CPU benchmarking against other x86_64 Intel/AMD CPUs, here was a bit of fun... Seeing how these budget Intel CPUs compare to a Raspberry Pi 4 in various processor benchmarks, all tested on Debian Linux.

Mesa 20.0 Now Defaults To The New Intel Gallium3D Driver For Faster OpenGL
After missing their original target of transitioning to Intel Gallium3D by default for Mesa 19.3 as the preferred OpenGL Linux driver on Intel graphics hardware, this milestone has now been reached for Mesa 20.0!

Intel Ivybridge + Haswell Require Security Mitigation For Graphics Hardware Flaw
Earlier today we were first to report on an Intel graphics driver patch mitigating a "Gen9" graphics hardware vulnerability. Details on that new security disclosure are coming to light and it turns out older Intel "Gen" graphics are also affected.

Intel's Linux Graphics Driver Gets Patched For A Gen9 Graphics Vulnerability
On top of the Intel graphics driver patches back from November for denial of service and privilege escalation bugs, the Linux kernel received a new patch today for "CVE-2019-14615" regarding a possible data disclosure with Gen9 graphics hardware.

A Quick Look At The Blender 2.82 Performance On Intel + AMD CPUs
With Blender 2.82 having released on Friday, this weekend we've begun our benchmarking of this new Blender release as the leading open-source 3D modeling solution currently available. Here are some preliminary v2.81 vs. v2.82 figures on different higher-end Intel and AMD processors.

Linux Developers Discussing Possible Kernel Driver For Intel CPU Undervolting
While the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) on Windows allows for undervolting laptop processors, currently on Linux there isn't any Intel-endorsed way for undervolting your CPU should you be interested in better thermal/power efficiency and other factors. But a hypothetical Linux kernel driver could be coming for filling such void.

RdRand Performance As Bad As ~3% Original Speed With CrossTalk/SRBDS Mitigation
Following today's disclosure by Intel of the CrossTalk/SRBDS vulnerability that is MDS-based and vulnerable across physical cores with affected instructions, Intel released new CPU microcode to mitigate the most prone/significant instructions. I've been benchmarking the impact of this new microcode on multiple systems and will have a full report tonight or tomorrow morning... But here is a look specifically at the look at the impact on the RdRand performance.

Red Hat Recommends Disabling The Intel Linux Graphics Driver Over Hardware Flaw
It's been another day testing and investigating CVE-2019-14615, a.k.a. the Intel graphics hardware issue where for Gen9 all turned out to be okay but for Gen7 graphics leads to some big performance hits. Besides the Core i7 tests published yesterday in the aforelinked article, tests on relevant Core i3 and i5 CPUs are currently being carried out for seeing the impact there (so far, it's looking to be equally brutal).

Intel Uncore Frequency Driver On Linux Is Closer To Mainline With Latest Patches
Sent out shortly before the holidays was an Intel Uncore Frequency driver for Linux servers. That driver has now been revised with the latest fixes and is looking like it could soon land in mainline for helping latency-sensitive servers.

Intel Gen12/Xe Graphics Have AV1 Accelerated Decode - Linux Support Lands
On top of Intel Gen12/Xe Graphics bringing other media engine improvements and much better 3D graphics support, another exciting element of the next-generation Intel graphics is now confirmed: GPU-accelerated AV1 video decoding!

Whoops, Linux 5.5 Missed Some "Critical" Intel Graphics Driver Patches
While Linux 5.5 is out in the wild now as the latest stable version of the Linux kernel, it turns out some Intel kernel graphics driver patches were overlooked and this can spell trouble for some users.

More Details On Intel's CVE-2019-14615 Graphics Vulnerability, a.k.a. iGPU Leak
As for CVE-2019-14615 the Intel graphics vulnerability disclosed this week affecting Gen7 through Gen9 graphics architectures, it's been dubbed "iGPU Leak" by the researchers involved. Thanks to the researcher who originally discovered this vulnerability having reached out to us, we now have some more information on this issue they describe as a "dangerous vulnerability."

NVIDIA Contributes Much Less To The Linux Kernel Than Intel Or AMD
Yesterday I put together some statistics on the AMD vs. Intel contributions to the upstream Linux kernel during the 2010s, but a request coming in off that was how do NVIDIA's contributions compare. Here is a look at the NVIDIA contributions to the Linux kernel over the past decade.

Linux 5.6 Ships With Broken Intel WiFi Driver After Network Security Fixes Go Awry
For those that are normally spinning their own kernels and punctually upgrading to new releases, you will want to hold off on the new Linux 5.6 kernel for the moment if you use the Intel "IWLWIFI" WiFi driver.

Mesa 20.0 Released With Big Improvements For Intel, AMD Radeon Vulkan/OpenGL
Mesa 20.0 is now released as the first quarter 2020 update to the Mesa 3D open-source graphics driver stack.
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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 or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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