The Most Popular Intel Linux/Open-Source News From H1'2021
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 8 July 2021 at 03:30 AM EDT. 1 Comment
INTEL --
As part of our various end-of-Q2/H1'2021 recaps, here is a look back at the most popular Intel Linux/open-source news so far this year.

During H1'2021 on Phoronix were 173 Intel news stories, primarily about their Linux and open-source support as well as prominent new hardware from the Linux angle, etc. That's not counting the various Intel hardware reviews on Phoronix nor the multi-page benchmark articles that come out to being the featured articles rather than news items.

So from that Intel news on Phoronix during the first half of the year, the highlights 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 5.13 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 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.

The 11 Most Interesting Features For Linux 5.11 - Lots For AMD + Intel This Cycle
Linux 5.11 stable is expected to be released on Sunday barring any second thoughts by Linus Torvalds that could lead to an eighth weekly release candidate that would in turn push the official release back by one week. In any case, Linux 5.11 will be formally out soon and it's an exciting one on the feature front.

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.

Linux 5.11 Released With Intel Integer Scaling, AMD Performance Boost, RTX 30 KMS
What better way for open-source enthusiasts to celebrate Valentine's Day than with the stable release of the Linux 5.11 kernel... Linus Torvalds even changed the kernel codename for the occasion to being the "Valentine's Day Edition" kernel.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Intel Has A New Driver For Linux 5.12: Reporting Your Laptop's Hinge/Keyboard Angle
Intel's latest open-source Linux driver contribution is a hinge driver that is set to debut with Linux 5.12.

Intel Tiger Lake Xe Graphics On Linux 5.12 Git, Mesa 21.1-devel
Recently I wrapped up some tests looking at the Dell XPS Linux laptop with Core i7 1165G7 "Tiger Lake" processor when looking at the Linux kernel performance of 5.10 vs. 5.11 vs. 5.12 as well as the impact if upgrading to the Linux 5.12 kernel.

Fedora Preparing To Switch To Intel's Modern "Sound Open Firmware" Audio Driver
Fedora 34 is planning to switch to using Intel's modern Sound Open Firmware audio driver as it should be in good shape now and superior to the existing sound driver. This is ahead of Intel likely switching to the Intel SOF driver code path by default in the upstream kernel once this change has first been vetted by Fedora users.

Linux 5.12 Released With Intel Xe Variable Rate Refresh, Clang LTO, KFENCE + More
After a week delay, the Linux 5.12 kernel was just released as stable.

AMD + Older Intel CPUs To See Much Faster AES-NI XTS Crypto Performance On Linux 5.12
AMD processors along with older Intel processors will enjoy much faster AES-NI XTS crypto performance with the Linux 5.12 kernel this spring.

Mesa 21.1 Released With RADV Variable Rate Shading, More Intel Vulkan Improvements
Mesa 21.1 is available today as the latest quarterly feature release to this collection of open-source OpenGL and Vulkan drivers. There are many features to show with this new release and it even managed to release on-schedule.

Intel Linux Driver Patches Yield 10~63% Faster Performance For Select Gen12/TGL GPUs
Users of various Intel Tiger Lake graphics and other "Gen12" graphics SKUs like the DG1 discrete graphics cards could soon be seeing a huge performance speed-up with the open-source Linux driver.

Intel On Their 11th Gen H35 Processors: "Fastest Single-Threaded Laptop Performance"
Intel sent out a news release on Thursday proclaiming their new 11th Gen H35 "Tiger Lake H" processors deliver the "fastest single-threaded laptop performance" thanks to the Core i7 11375H delivering up to 5GHz turbo frequencies.

As for the featured benchmark/reviews, those most viewed articles included:

Intel Core i5 11600K + Core i9 11900K Linux Performance Across ~400 Benchmarks
Today's the day that we can finally talk about the performance of Intel's "Rocket Lake" processors under Linux. The past several weeks we have been extensively testing the Core i5 11600K and Core i9 11900K processors under Linux. Here is a look at the very exciting Gen12 Xe Graphics performance out of these new desktop CPUs, the Linux gaming performance, and then over 300 other benchmarks looking at the CPU/system performance of the i5-11600K / i9-11900K processors against the prior generation Comet Lake parts and the AMD Ryzen 5000 series competition.

Spectre Mitigation Performance Impact For Intel's Rocket Lake
For those wondering about the state of speculative execution vulnerabilities and what software-based mitigations are required for Intel's new Rocket Lake processors, here is the rundown along with benchmarks when disabling those present Linux kernel mitigations.

AVX / AVX2 / AVX-512 Performance + Power On Intel Rocket Lake
Here is a look at the AVX / AVX2 / AVX-512 performance on the Intel Core i9 11900K "Rocket Lake" when building a set of relevant open-source benchmarks limited to AVX, AVX2, and AVX-512 caps each time while also monitoring the CPU package power consumption during the tests for looking at the performance-per-Watt in providing some fresh reference metrics over AVX-512 on Linux with the latest Intel "Rocket Lake" processors.

Intel Xeon Platinum 8380 Ice Lake Linux Performance vs. AMD EPYC Milan, Cascade Lake
Last month Intel launched their 3rd Gen Xeon Scalable "Ice Lake" processors for these 10nm server processors and SKUs up to 40 cores while boasting around a 20% IPC improvement overall and big reported improvements for AI workloads and more. Recently we received an Intel Ice Lake reference server with the dual Xeon Platinum 8380 processors so we can carry out our own performance tests. In this initial article is our first look at the Xeon Platinum 8380 Linux support in general and a number of performance benchmarks.

Ubuntu 21.04 Enjoys Better Performance But Still No Match To Intel's Clear Linux
As we have been showing in a few articles already, Ubuntu 21.04 is in good shape performance-wise and generally coming ahead of Ubuntu 20.10 and 20.04 LTS. We've seen that on a number of systems in the lab, but how does this better performance out of Ubuntu 21.04 compare to say Intel's Clear Linux? Here are some benchmarks.

Linux 5.12 Features Intel Xe VRR, Nintendo 64 Port + Clang LTO + Much More
The Linux 5.12 merge window was off to a rough start due to winter storms preventing Linus Torvalds from merging changes for nearly one week, but in any case he appears to have caught up and the Linux 5.12-rc1 kernel is expected later today to end out the merge window. Here is a look at the many exciting changes coming for Linux 5.12.

LLVM Clang 12 Leading Over GCC 11 Compiler Performance On Intel Xeon Scalable Ice Lake
Recently we have been running a number of compiler benchmarks looking at the recently released LLVM Clang 12 and GCC 11 open-source code compilers. There is as healthy and competitive competition as ever between GCC and Clang with the mainline Linux kernel these days working well under Clang, more software projects shifting to Clang by default, and the performance being as tight as ever between GCC and Clang for compiled C/C++ code on x86_64 and AArch64. In today's article are benchmarks of Clang 12 vs. GCC 11 on the dual Intel Xeon Platinum 8380 Ice Lake server.

Linux's P-State Performance Governor Shows Unexpectedly Big Boosts For The Intel Core i9-11900K
The P-State and CPUFreq "performance" governors on Linux with desktop Intel/AMD processors can be of help for gaming and other select workloads by tending to keep the CPU clock frequencies higher than the default ondemand (CPUFreq) or powersave (P-State) governors used by nearly all Linux distributions. But with Intel's new Core i9 11900K "Rocket Lake" is a dramatic difference in power and performance between the Intel P-State performance and powersave governors than what we have seen over the years with prior generations of Intel Core processors.

GCC 11 vs. LLVM Clang 12 Performance On The Intel Core i9 11900K Is A Heated Race
For those wondering how GCC and LLVM Clang are competing when running on Intel's latest Rocket Lake processors, here are some GCC 11 vs. LLVM Clang 12 compiler benchmarks with the Core i9 11900K running from the newly-released Fedora Workstation 34 featuring these very latest compilers. The compiler benchmarks were carried out at multiple optimization levels on each compiler.

Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS / 20.10 / 21.04 Performance On Intel Xeon Scalable Ice Lake
While there is more to consider when choosing a Linux distribution than just the out-of-the-box performance, for those curious about the performance of recent Ubuntu releases for running with Intel's new 3rd Gen Xeon Scalable "Ice Lake" processors, here are some benchmarks showing how the performance has improved from Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS to Ubuntu 20.10 and now the recent Ubuntu 21.04 Linux release.

What do you hope to see out of Intel on the Linux front in H2? Let us know in the forums.
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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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