Linux 5.16's Great Features Include FUTEX2, Folios, AMD Rembrandt, Intel AMX & Much More
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 6 January 2022 at 09:02 AM EST. 4 Comments
LINUX KERNEL --
After a quiet holiday period the Linux 5.16 kernel is set to be introduced as stable this Sunday. Here is a look at the sixteen most exciting features to find with Linux 5.16.

At the end of the merge window I posted my usual look at the changes I found most interesting with the Linux 5.16 feature overview. See that for the lengthy list of new features while here is a recap of what's to be found in this new kernel version. Linux 5.16 is what will hopefully be powering the likes of Ubuntu 22.04 LTS with v5.17 not arriving as stable until around the end of March and that in turn cutting things too close.

Most exciting with Linux 5.16 changes include:

- FUTEX2/futex_waitv has landed as the new system call that can help Wine / Proton (Steam Play) better emulate Windows games in an efficient manner by better matching the semantics of the Windows kernel. FUTEX2's futex_waitv should yield some nice performance improvements.

- Memory "folios" landed as an improvement to the core Linux memory management code. Look for more memory folios work to come in forthcoming cycles.

- The newly-announced Ryzen 6000 mobile "Rembrandt" processor support should be in good shape. This support has been working its way mainline the past few kernel releases under the "Yellow Carp" codename. With Linux 5.16 there is DisplayPort 2.0 support, USB4 display tunneling, run-time power management for XHCI controllers, audio support, and other Yellow Carp / Rembrandt bits in place.

- Intel Alder Lake S graphics are now considered stable and enabled by default... Sadly for Linux 5.15 or prior the ADL-S graphics support requires using the force probe option to enable the Gen12 graphics support on Alder Lake S while now is enabled by default for these processors that began shipping at the end of last year.

- Intel AMX support has landed. Advanced Matrix Extensions is coming with Xeon Scalable "Sapphire Rapids" and Linux 5.16 has the initial kernel-side bits in place. Compilers like GCC and LLVM Clang have already added AMX instruction support. The AMX support for Linux KVM virtualization is still pending.

- The Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 now has mainline support.

- The Nintendo Switch controller driver has been mainlined for supporting the Switch Pro and Joy-Cons controllers under Linux.

- Improved support for the Sony PlayStation 5 controller.

- Continued IO_uring and block subsystem optimizations for boosting the per-core IOPS potential on Linux. There are also performance improvements to btrfs and other storage/file-system enhancements with Linux 5.16.

- The Realtek RT89 WiFi driver has been mainlined for supporting newer Realtek 802.1ax wireless adapters.

- Many more ASRock and ASUS motherboards have working sensor support.

- The Linux kernel now has mainline support for the 2021 Apple Magic Keyboard.

- Continued bring-up of Apple Silicon / Apple M1 hardware support with USB, PCIe, and other bits for Linux 5.16 while yet more coming for Linux 5.17.

- USB low-latency audio handling improvements.

- DAMON-based memory reclamation support was merged for helping in low memory situations.

- The updated Zstd implementation for the Linux kernel to get the code close to the upstream Zstd state and helps with compression/decompression performance improvements for in-kernel users of Zstandard compared to the prior state of the in-kernel code.


Linux 5.16 will mark the first stable release of 2022 followed by kicking off the Linux 5.17 cycle. (The penguin above back during the X.Org Developer Summit 2008 Edinburgh.)


See the Linux 5.16 feature list for more information on these changes and many other prominent additions to find with this first stable kernel release of 2022. Look for Linux 5.16 to be tagged on 9 January.
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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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