That's A Wrap For 2018 With 3,693 News Articles, 314 Linux Hardware Reviews/Benchmarks
Written by Michael Larabel in Phoronix on 31 December 2018 at 04:47 PM EST. 9 Comments
PHORONIX --
That's a wrap for 2018 with Phoronix this year having published 3,693 original Linux/open-source related news articles and 314 featured articles comprising of our Linux hardware reviews and multi-page benchmark specials. 2019 will bring us into the 15th calendar year since I started Phoronix and now around 4,000 featured articles in its time and more than 27,300 original news articles.

Thanks to those that have supported Phoronix over the course of 2018. As one last reminder, we are presently running our Phoronix Premium holiday special where you can support the site moving into the new year while enjoying the site ad-free and multi-page articles on a single page, among other benefits like priority feedback. It's only though (pay-per-impression) advertisements and premium members along with PayPal tips. Due to the current ad climate and ad-blockers, I remain the one running the site and Phoronix Media operations single-handedly and responsible for 99% of the content. Thanks for your support as we move into 2019. The holiday special officially expires at the end of the year, but should any of you be reading this article late, I am still happy to honor the deal... See the details on that special in the aforelinked article.

Below is a look at the most popular Phoronix articles this year as well as our news. And with that, the last hours of 2018 will be spent enjoying some Bavarian beverages and catching up on some much needed sleep before being back to the Linux benchmarking grind bright and early in the morning.

First up, the most-viewed news overall on Phoronix for 2018:

Dell Rolls Out New XPS 13 Laptop For 2018
Just ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Dell has unveiled a new XPS 13 high-end laptop.

The Linux Kernel Is Now VLA-Free: A Win For Security, Less Overhead & Better For Clang
With the in-development Linux 4.20 kernel, it is now effectively VLA-free... The variable-length arrays (VLAs) that can be convenient and part of the C99 standard but can have unintended consequences.

Intel Rolls Out Their New CPUs With Radeon Vega M Graphics
Kicking off CES 2018, Intel launched their new CPUs featuring integrated Radeon Vega M Graphics.

AMD Cuts Ryzen Prices, Confirms New Hardware, New Ryzen CPUs With Vega
While Intel announced their new CPUs with Radeon Vega M graphics, AMD had a host of announcements on their own for getting CES 2018 started with some excitement.

Linux Gaming Performance Doesn't Appear Affected By The x86 PTI Work
With the recently published Initial Benchmarks Of The Performance Impact Resulting From Linux's x86 Security Changes, one of the common questions that came up is whether gaming performance is adversely affected by the x86 Page Table Isolation changes recently merged to the Linux kernel.

NVIDIA RTX, AMD On Linux & Distro Performance Dominated Linux Discussions In October
During the month of October on Phoronix there were 330 original news stories and 26 featured articles / Linux hardware reviews penned by your's truly.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ Released For $25 USD
The Raspberry Pi Foundation today unveiled the Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ ARM SBC that costs just $25 and offers Bluetooth, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, and a 1.4GHz Cortex-A53 processor.

Linus Torvalds Shows His New Polite Side While Pointing Out Bad Kernel Code
When Linus Torvalds announced last month that he would be taking a temporary leave of absence to work on his empathy and interpersonal skills as well as the adoption of a Linux kernel Code of Conduct, some Internet commenters thought this would lead Linus to being less strict about code quality and his standards for accepting new code to the mainline tree. Fortunately, he's shown already for the new Linux 4.20~5.0 cycle he isn't relaxing his standards but is communicating better when it comes to bringing up coding issues.

Valve Rolls Out Wine-based "Proton" For Running Windows Games On Linux
Valve has today announced a new version of Steam Play that allows Linux gamers to enjoy Windows games on Linux via their new Wine-based Proton project.

Apple's New Hardware With The T2 Security Chip Will Currently Block Linux From Booting
Apple's MacBook Pro laptops have become increasingly unfriendly with Linux in recent years while their Mac Mini computers have generally continued working out okay with most Linux distributions due to not having to worry about multiple GPUs, keyboards/touchpads, and other Apple hardware that often proves problematic with the Linux kernel. But now with the latest Mac Mini systems employing Apple's T2 security chip, they took are likely to crush any Linux dreams.

For Now At Least AMD CPUs Are Also Reported As "Insecure"
Right now with the big mysterious security vulnerability causing the rush of the x86 Page Table Isolation work that landed in the Linux kernel days ago, it's believed to be a problem only affecting Intel CPUs. But at least for now the mainline kernel is still treating AMD CPUs as "insecure" and is too taking a performance hit.

Debian's Anti-Harassment Team Is Removing A Package Over Its Name
The latest notes from the Debian anti-harassment team on Wednesday caught my attention when reading, "We were requested to advice on the appropriateness of a certain package in the Debian archive. Our decision resulted in the package pending removal from the archive." Curiosity got the best of me... What package was deemed too inappropriate for the Debian archive?

Linux Will End Up Disabling x86 PTI For AMD Processors - Update: Now Disabled
While at the moment with the mainline Linux kernel Git tree AMD CPUs enable x86 PTI and are treated as "insecure" CPUs, the AMD patch for not setting X86_BUG_CPU_INSECURE will end up being honored.

One Of LLVM's Top Contributors Quits Development Over CoC, Outreach Program
Rafael Avila de Espindola is the fifth most active contributor to LLVM with more than 4,300 commits since 2006, but now he has decided to part ways with the project.

The Controversial Speck Encryption Code Will Indeed Be Dropped From The Linux Kernel
While Google got the NSA-developed Speck into the Linux kernel on the basis of wanting to use Speck for file-system encryption on very low-end Android (Go) devices, last month they decided to abandon those plans and instead work out a new "HPolyC" algorithm for use on these bottom-tier devices due to all the concerns over Speck potentially being back-doored by the US National Security Agency.

PostgreSQL Begins Landing LLVM JIT Support For Faster Performance
The widely-used PostgreSQL database software may soon become much faster thanks to a work-in-progress LLVM JIT back-end that has begun to land.

Linux Kernel Developers Discuss Dropping x32 Support
It was just several years ago that the open-source ecosystem began supporting the x32 ABI, but already kernel developers are talking of potentially deprecating the support and for it to be ultimately removed.

Patches Revived For A Zstd-Compressed Linux Kernel While Dropping LZMA & BZIP2
For more than a year it's been talked about adding an option to support Zstd-compressed Linux kernel images while it looks like that Facebook-backed high performance compression algorithm for kernel images could soon finally be mainlined.

Sony Is Working On AMD Ryzen LLVM Compiler Improvements - Possibly For The PlayStation 5
One of Sony's compiler experts has taken to working on some tuning for the AMD Ryzen "znver1" microarchitecture support within the LLVM compiler stack. This begs the question why Sony is working on Ryzen improvements if not for a future product.

EA SEED's Halcyon R&D Engine Experimenting With Vulkan & Linux Support
Halcyon is a research and development engine being built by Electronic Arts' SEED group (Search for Extraordinary Experiences Division). While previously they talked up Microsoft DirectX ray-tracing and have been experimenting with it, they have also begun work on a Vulkan back-end for Halcyon that also includes Linux support.

And the most-viewed featured articles of 2018:

Initial Benchmarks Of The Performance Impact Resulting From Linux's x86 Security Changes
Over the past day you've likely heard lots of hysteria about a yet-to-be-fully-disclosed vulnerability that appears to affect at least several generations of Intel CPUs and affects not only Linux but also Windows and macOS. The Intel CPU issue comes down to leaking information about the kernel memory to user-space, but the full scope isn't public yet until the bug's embargo, but it's expected to be a doozy in the data center / cloud deployments. Due to the amount of interest in this issue, here are benchmarks of a patched kernel showing the performance impact of the page table isolation patches.

Further Analyzing The Intel CPU "x86 PTI Issue" On More Systems
2018 has been off to a busy start with all the testing around the Linux x86 PTI (Page Table Isolation) patches for this "Intel CPU bug" that potentially dates back to the Pentium days but has yet to be fully disclosed. Here is the latest.

AMD Threadripper 2990WX Linux Benchmarks: The 32-Core / 64-Thread Beast
Whether you are compiling a lot of code, rendering models with Blender, or running various scientific workloads with OpenMP or MPI, the AMD Threadripper 2990WX is capable of delivering immersive Linux performance with its 32-cores and 64 total threads. While coming in at $1800 USD, the AMD Threadripper 2990WX can deliver better performance than the more expensive Intel Core i9 7980XE. Beyond being mesmerized about the performance today with this high-end desktop/workstation processor with the many thread-happy Linux workloads we encounter daily, this 32-core Zen+ processor has us even more eager to see AMD's next-generation Zen2-based EPYC CPUs next year.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ Benchmarks
Last week on Pi Day marked the release of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ with a slightly higher clocked Cortex-A53 processors, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, faster Ethernet, and other minor enhancements over its predecessor. I've been spending the past few days putting the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ through its paces the past few days with an array of benchmarks while comparing the performance to other ARM SBCs as well as a few lower-end Intel x86 systems too. Here is all you need to know about the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ performance.

A Look At The Windows 10 vs. Linux Performance On AMD Threadripper 2990WX
Complementing the extensive Linux benchmarks done earlier today of the AMD Threadripper 2990WX in our review (as well as on the Threadripper 2950X), in this article are our first Windows 10 vs. Linux benchmarks of this 32-core / 64-thread $1799 USD processor. Tests were done from Microsoft Windows 10 against Clear Linux, Ubuntu 18.04, the Arch-based Antergos 18.7-Rolling, and openSUSE Tumbleweed.

Bisected: The Unfortunate Reason Linux 4.20 Is Running Slower
After running a lot of tests and then bisecting the Linux 4.20 kernel merge window, the reason for the significant slowdowns in the Linux 4.20 kernel for many real-world workloads is now known...

The Fastest Linux Distribution For Ryzen: A 10-Way Linux OS Comparison On Ryzen 7 & Threadripper
While we frequently do Linux OS/distribution performance comparisons on the latest Intel desktop and server hardware, some requests came in recently about looking closer at the fastest Linux distribution(s) when running on AMD's Ryzen desktop processors. Here are benchmarks of ten popular Linux distributions tested out-of-the-box on Ryzen 7 1800X and Threadripper 1950X systems.

The Performance Cost Of Spectre / Meltdown / Foreshadow Mitigations On Linux 4.19
One of the most frequent test requests recently has been to look at the overall performance cost of Meltdown/Spectre mitigations on the latest Linux kernel and now with L1TF/Foreshadow work tossed into the mix. With the Linux 4.19 kernel that just kicked off development this month has been continued churn in the Spectre/Meltdown space, just not for x86_64 but also for POWER/s390/ARM where applicable. For getting an overall look at the performance impact of these mitigation techniques I tested three Intel Xeon systems and two AMD EPYC systems as well as a virtual machine on each side for seeing how the default Linux 4.19 kernel performance -- with relevant mitigations applied -- to that of an unmitigated kernel.

Linux KPTI Tests Using Linux 4.14 vs. 4.9 vs. 4.4
Yet another one of the avenues we have been exploring with our Linux Page Table Isolation (KPTI) testing has been looking at any impact of this security feature in the wake of the Meltdown vulnerability when testing with an older Linux Long Term Support (LTS) release. In particular, when using a kernel prior to the PCID (Process Context Identifier) support in the Linux kernel that is used to lessen the impact of KPTI.

POWER9 Benchmarks vs. Intel Xeon vs. AMD EPYC Performance On Debian Linux
For several days we've had remote access to one of the brand new Raptor Talos II Workstations that is powered by POWER9 processors and open-source down through the firmware. For those curious how these latest POWER processors compare to AMD EPYC and Intel Xeon processors, here are some benchmarks comparing against of the few other systems in house while all testing was done from Debian GNU/Linux.

Ubuntu 16.04 vs. 18.04 Performance On Six Systems
Continuing on with our benchmarking of the recently released Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, here are some reference benchmarks on a total of six systems with AMD and Intel hardware while looking to see how the out-of-the-box performance compares to the previous Long Term Support release, Ubuntu 16.04.

Windows 10 WSL vs. Linux Performance For Early 2018
Back in December was our most recent round of Windows Subsystem for Linux benchmarking with Windows 10 while since then both Linux and Windows have received new stable updates, most notably for mitigating the Spectre and Meltdown CPU vulnerabilities. For your viewing pleasure today are some fresh benchmarks looking at the Windows 10 WSL performance against Linux using the latest updates as of this week while also running some comparison tests too against Docker on Windows and Oracle VM VirtualBox.

Ryzen 5 2400G Radeon Vega Linux OpenGL/Vulkan Gaming Benchmarks
Here are our initial performance figures for the Vega graphics found on the newly-released Ryzen 5 2400G "Raven Ridge" APU under Linux and testing both OpenGL and Vulkan graphics benchmarks. CPU tests as well as benchmarks of the Ryzen 3 2200G under Linux are forthcoming on Phoronix.

AMD Ryzen 5 2600X + Ryzen 7 2700X Linux Benchmarks
The embargo on the Ryzen 5 2600X and Ryzen 7 2700X processors has expired now that these Ryzen+ CPUs are beginning to ship today. We can now talk about the Linux support and the initial performance figures for these upgraded Zen desktop CPUs.

Ubuntu 18.04 LTS vs. Fedora 28 vs. Clear Linux Benchmarks
Given last week's release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and then Fedora 28 having debuted earlier this week, I decided to see how these popular tier-one Linux distributions now compare to Intel's own Clear Linux platform. This three-way Linux distribution comparison was carried out on six systems comprising both of Intel and AMD CPUs.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti To GTX 980 Ti TensorFlow Benchmarks With ResNet-50, AlexNet, GoogLeNet, Inception, VGG-16
For those curious about the TensorFlow performance on the newly-released GeForce RTX 2080 series, for your viewing pleasure to kick off this week of Linux benchmarking is a look at Maxwell, Pascal, and Turing graphics cards in my possession when testing the NGC TensorFlow instance on CUDA 10.0 with the 410.57 Linux driver atop Ubuntu and exploring the performance of various models. Besides the raw performance, the performance-per-Watt and performance-per-dollar is also provided.

Vulkan vs. OpenGL Performance For Linux Games
It has been a while since last publishing some Linux GPU driver benchmarks focused explicitly on the OpenGL vs. Vulkan performance, but that changed today with a fresh look at the performance between these two Khronos graphics APIs when tested with AMD and NVIDIA hardware on the latest RadeonSI/RADV and NVIDIA Linux graphics drivers.

Benchmarking Linux With The Retpoline Patches For Spectre
While the Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) patches were quick to land in the mainline Linux kernel for addressing the Meltdown CPU vulnerability, the "Retpoline" patches are still being worked on as the leading approach on the Linux side for dealing with the Spectre CPU vulnerability. The Retpoline patches are said to have little impact on performance, but here are our benchmarks of these kernel patches for seeing how they affect a variety of AMD and Intel systems.

The Ubuntu Linux Performance Over The Past Six Years On An Intel Xeon Server
In needing to make some room in the racks for some new hardware and some other interesting platforms on the way, I've retired the last of the Intel Nehalem era hardware at Phoronix that was still used for occasional historical Linux performance tests... I decided to take this Sun Microsystems SunFire X4170 server with dual Intel Xeon E5540 (Nehalem EP) processors for a final spin before pulling it from the racks. Here is a look at how the near-final Ubuntu 18.10 Linux performance compares to that of Ubuntu 12.10.

The Spectre/Meltdown Performance Impact On Linux 4.20, Decimating Benchmarks With New STIBP Overhead
As outlined yesterday, significant slowdowns with the Linux 4.20 kernel turned out to be due to the addition of the kernel-side bits for STIBP (Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors) for cross-HyperThread Spectre Variant Two mitigation. This has incurred significant performance penalties with the STIBP support in its current state with Linux 4.20 Git and is enabled by default at least for Intel systems with up-to-date microcode. Here are some follow-up benchmarks looking at the performance hit with the Linux 4.20 development kernel as well as the overall Spectre and Meltdown mitigation impact on this latest version of the Linux kernel.

About The Author
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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 10,000 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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