Spectre/Meltdown Benchmarks & Evolving Linux GPU Drivers Dominated Q1-2018
Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software on 25 March 2018 at 08:16 AM EDT. Add A Comment
FREE SOFTWARE --
With Q1'2018 wrapping up in the week ahead, here's a look back at our more than 856 original news articles and 76 featured benchmark articles / Linux hardware reviews this quarter.

With new and original content on Phoronix each and every day, this quarter there has certainly been no shortage of interesting software and hardware to cover. Q1'2018 was defined by all of the Spectre and Meltdown benchmarking of the different mitigation techniques. As well, the ever maturing state of the open-source Linux GPU drivers is certainly very exciting as is the very latest innovations happening within the upstream Linux kernel.

Below is a look at the most-viewed news and articles on Phoronix for Q1. As always, if you enjoy all of the original daily content largely written by your's truly, consider showing your support by joining Phoronix Premium or making a PayPal tip.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

VM Performance Showing Mixed Impact With Linux 4.15 KPTI Patches
Continuing on with our Linux Kernel Page Table Isolation (KPTI) performance testing are some benchmark results when running tests within a virtual machine on Xeon class hardware.

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.

Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu Linux With Radeon / GeForce GPUs On The Latest 2018 Drivers
Given how fiercely the latest open-source AMD Linux driver code is running now up against NVIDIA's long-standing flagship Linux GPU driver, you might be curious how well that driver stacks up against the Radeon Software driver on Windows? Well, you are in luck as here are some fresh benchmarks of the Radeon RX 580 and RX Vega 64 as well as the GeForce GTX 1060 and GTX 1080 Ti while being tested both under Microsoft Windows 10 Pro x64 and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS while using the latest AMD/NVIDIA drivers on each platform.

Radeon GPUs Are Increasingly Competing With NVIDIA GPUs On Latest RadeonSI/RADV Drivers
As it's been a few weeks since last delivering a modest Linux GPU comparison and given the continuously evolving state of the Linux kernel Git tree as well as the Mesa project that houses the RadeonSI OpenGL and RADV Vulkan drivers, here are our latest benchmarks showing the current state of the AMD Radeon open-source Linux graphics driver performance relative to NVIDIA's long-standing and high-performance but proprietary driver using several different graphics cards.

And the most-viewed news for Q1-2018:

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.

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.

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.

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.

systemd Breached One Million Lines Of Code In 2017
Systemd had a busy 2017 and its code-base is now up to over one million lines.

Some Of The Features Coming To The Linux 4.16 Kernel
Linux 4.15 will hopefully be released later today and that will kick off the start of the Linux 4.16 kernel merge window. Here's some of what is coming to this next kernel cycle.

AMD PSP Affected By Vulnerability
While all eyes have been on Intel this week with the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities, a disclosure was publicly made this week surrounding AMD's PSP Secure Processor in an unrelated security bulletin.

Google Makes Disclosure About The CPU Vulnerability Affecting Intel / AMD / ARM
We're finally getting actual technical details on the CPU vulnerability leading to the recent race around (K)PTI that when corrected may lead to slower performance in certain situations. Google has revealed they uncovered the issue last year and have now provided some technical bits.

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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