Intel Crocus, Linux 5.13, Other Vendor Happenings Made For An Exciting June
Written by Michael Larabel in Phoronix on 30 June 2021 at 08:30 PM EDT. Add A Comment
PHORONIX --
During this past month on Phoronix were 242 original Linux/open-source/hardware related news articles written by your's truly and another 18 featured Linux hardware reviews / featured benchmark articles. This month also marked Phoronix.com turning seventeen years old for delivering Linux hardware reviews and news.

For being a summer month, June 2021 was quite eventful in both the software and hardware space. Below is a look at the most popular articles this past month on Phoronix. As always, if you enjoy the daily flow of original content be sure to share or follow it on Facebook and Twitter. If wanting to help ensure more successes into the 18th year of Phoronix, devoted followers can join Phoronix Premium or PayPal tips are always appreciated. At the very least please do not use any ad-blocker as it severely impacts the site operations besides being the main contributor to burn-out / demoralizing and other issues from otherwise being able to focus on quality content.

The most popular Linux news for June 2021 included:

It Turns Out Windows Unconditionally Reserves The First 1MB Of RAM, Linux Was Just Late To Do So
Sent in last weekend to the Linux 5.13 kernel was the change so Linux x86/x86_64 will always reserve the first 1MB of RAM in order to avoid corruption issues with some BIOS and frame-buffers sometimes fiddling with that lowest portion of system memory. While the thought was reserving that first 1MB unconditionally was a bit onerous and that perhaps Windows has some way of determining how much low memory area to reserve, it turns out Windows has been employing this same behavior for years.

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.

Google Wants To See Rust Code In The Linux Kernel, Contracts The Main Developer
Google wants to see Rust programming language support within the Linux kernel so much so that they have contracted the lead developer working on "Rust for Linux" as the work aims to get mainlined.

Linux x86/x86_64 Will Now Always Reserve The First 1MB Of RAM
The Linux x86/x86_64 kernel code already had logic in place for reserving portions of the first 1MB of RAM to avoid the BIOS or kernel potentially clobbering that space among other reasons while now Linux 5.13 is doing away with that "wankery" and will just unconditionally always reserve the first 1MB of RAM.

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.

Linus Torvalds Encourages Kernel Developers & Everyone To Get Vaccinated
Linus Torvalds is known primarily in the past for his colorful scripture on the Linux kernel mailing list while today he does have a passionate and important read on the LKML around vaccinations for COVID-19.

Firefox 89 Released With UI/UX Changes
Mozilla is kicking off June by shipping Firefox 89.0 with their latest revisions to their user interface.

Microsoft Announces Windows 11 - Benchmarks Against Linux To Begin Soon
As expected this morning Microsoft officially lifted the curtain on Windows 11 as the latest evolutionary step to their operating system past Windows 10.

-O3 Compiler Optimization Level Still Deemed Too Unsafe For The Linux Kernel
Due to not too old versions of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) possibly generating bad code with the "-O3" compiler optimization level and sometimes there not being performance benefits, Linus Torvalds remains against using this optimization flag when compiling the Linux kernel.

Linux 5.13 Released With Apple M1 Bringup, Landlock, FreeSync HDMI + Much More
Linus Torvalds has just released the Linux 5.13 kernel as stable.

It's Good But Maybe Bad: LVFS Skyrockets With More Than 100k Firmware Updates In One Day
The Linux Vendor Firmware Service (LVFS) with Fwupd has been serving on average around 40k~50k firmware updates per daay to Linux users relying on this cross-vendor, open-source firmware distribution service with FWUPD for applying firmware updates under Linux. But yesterday its usage just skyrocketed with more than 100,000 firmware updates in a single day... That's great for adoption but the motivation for the mass firmware updates may be something rough on the horizon.

Dell BIOS/UEFI Under Attack From New Vulnerabilities - Use FWUPD For The Latest Updates
For those wondering about the recent skyrocketing in LVFS/FWUPD usage for Linux firmware updates, it appears to be attributed to Dell pushing out a massive number of updates with more than one hundred models impacted by newly-disclosed BIOS/UEFI vulnerabilities.

OpenSSL 3.0 Release Candidate Arrives With Big Changes
The OpenSSL project today shipped their OpenSSL 3.0 Beta, which is their equivalent to a release candidate ahead of the planned official 3.0.0 release next quarter.

Linux 5.14 Set To See Many New Features, New GPU Support, Other Exciting Changes
Linux 5.13 will debut tomorrow if Linus Torvalds is comfortable with the state of the code-base, which in turn will mark the opening of the Linux 5.14 merge window. Here is a look at what is on the table for this next follow-on version of the Linux kernel.

NVIDIA Posts 470 Linux Driver Beta With Better Wayland Support, DLSS + Improved PRIME
NVIDIA announced yesterday they would be releasing DLSS Linux support tomorrow and indeed they have delivered on that first milestone of Deep Learning Super Sampling support for Linux gamers. NVIDIA has published their first 470 driver series beta in the form of the NVIDIA 470.42.01 build.

helloSystem 0.5 Released For macOS-Inspired FreeBSD Desktop
One of the most promising BSD-based desktop distributions in recent times has been helloSystem that wants to be the macOS of BSDs with a polished desktop experience. helloSystem has been making good progress towards their goals in recent months and this weekend now issued version 0.5.

Lenovo To Support Configuring ThinkPad BIOS From Within Linux
In conjunction with supported Lenovo systems, a new "Think-LMI" driver is on its way to the mainline Linux kernel for allowing some BIOS/firmware settings to be accessed and configured within Linux.

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.

NVIDIA Confirms Plans To Drop "Kepler" GPU Driver Support
Last month we reported on CUDA documentation pointing to the NVIDIA 470 driver series to be the last supporting GeForce GTX 600/700 Kepler GPUs and that has now been summed up more formally with new guidance out of NVIDIA.

NVIDIA Proposes The Linux Hardware Timestamping Engine
A proposal by NVIDIA engineers for the mainline Linux kernel would introduce the Hardware Timestamping Engine (HTE) subsystem.

And the most popular featured articles/reviews:

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Linux Performance
NVIDIA this week at Computex Taipei announced the RTX 3070 Ti and RTX 3080 Ti while today the actual review embargo expires on the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti as this new flagship gaming graphics card. Here are our initial benchmarks of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti under Linux.

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.

GCC 11 Compiler Performance Benchmarks With Various Optimization Levels, LTO
Given the recent forum discussion stemming from the -O3 optimization level still too unsafe for the Linux kernel (in part due to older, buggy compilers) and some users wondering about the current -O2 versus -O3 compiler optimization level impact, here is a fresh round of reference benchmarks using GCC 11.1 on Fedora Workstation 33 looking at various optimization levels and optimizations tested on dozens of different application benchmarks to see the overall impact on performance.

System76 Launch - A Very Well Built, Highly Configurable, Open-Source Keyboard
Last month System76 launched their Launch Configurable Keyboard. They sent over this new open-source keyboard for some brief testing and I must say the build quality has been top notch and while this is their first keyboard they are bringing to market, with their US manufacturing expertise that began with their Thelio computer cases, it has carried forward with their Launch keyboard. This keyboard is beautifully crafted and among the most durable (and heaviest) keyboards I've used in the past two decades. It reminds me of the IBM Model M from a quality perspective but with its own unique advantages.

AMD EPYC 7343 / EPYC 7443 Linux Performance
Since the AMD EPYC 7003 "Milan" series launch back in March we have carried out many benchmarks with their flagship processors like the EPYC 7763 and 7713 processors and some of the frequency optimized SKUs, but what about the performance lower down the product stack? Up for benchmarking today is a look at the AMD EPYC 7343 and 7743 processors in 1P and 2P configurations against other AMD EPYC Milan processors as well as Intel's Xeon Platinum 8380 Ice Lake processors.

LLVM Clang 12 Benchmarks At Varying Optimization Levels, LTO
Earlier this month were benchmarks looking at GCC 11 performance with varying optimization levels and features like link-time optimizations. Stemming from reader requests, here are now similar reference benchmarks off LLVM Clang 12.0 on the same system with going from -O0 to -Ofast and toggling -march=native and LTO usage.

Left 4 Dead 2 Vulkan Performance With Radeon Graphics On Linux
Last week Valve introduced Vulkan rendering support for Left 4 Dead 2. The L4D2 Vulkan support is similar to that of Portal 2 where DXVK is being leveraged for translating the Direct3D calls to Vulkan rather than relying on their OpenGL translations. For those wondering what this means for L4D2 performance on Linux with modern GPUs, here are some benchmarks of Left 4 Dead 2 when testing the OpenGL and Vulkan rendering options.

Mesa's New "Crocus" OpenGL Driver Is Performing Well For Old Intel Hardware
Landing this week in Mesa 21.2's development code is Crocus Gallium3D providing a new Intel OpenGL driver for i964 "Gem4" through Haswell "Gen7" graphics. While even Haswell graphics are showing their age these days, I couldn't help but to fire up a few benchmarks seeing how this new Crocus open-source OpenGL driver performs against the existing "i965" classic open-source driver for Linux systems.

FreeBSD 13.0 vs. DragonFlyBSD 6.0 vs. Linux On AMD EPYC 7003 Series "Milan"
For those wondering how well the likes of FreeBSD 13.0 and DragonFlyBSD 6.0 performance on AMD's EPYC 7003 "Milan" processors launched earlier this year, here are some initial benchmarks of those BSDs alongside a few Linux distributions. With recently having a Tyan 1U server in the lab with EPYC 7543 32-core processor, I've been running a number of BSD benchmarks on it given these recent BSD releases have been running well on this 1P server.

Another Test Drive With Crocus Gallium3D On Old Intel Hardware
Since Crocus was merged into mainline Mesa last week we have been looking at benchmarks of this new open-source Intel Gallium3D driver designed exclusively for older Intel graphics hardware (i965 Gen4 through Haswell Gen7, plus Cherrvyiew and experimental Gen8 Broadwell) compared to the existing open-source i965 classic driver. Prior articles have looked at the quite good performance with Haswell while Sandy Bridge is in somewhat rough shape. Today's testing is going in the middle and looking at the Crocus vs. i965 OpenGL driver performance for Ivy Bridge with the once great Core i7 3770K.
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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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