Q3 Was Exciting For Linux Enthusiasts With Threadripper, Mesa, Steam Play & Kernel Drama
Written by Michael Larabel in Phoronix on 28 September 2018 at 09:26 AM EDT. 1 Comment
PHORONIX --
The third-quarter was extremely busy to say the least... There was so much going on from the notable Linux 4.19 kernel merge window, the exciting material queueing ahead of Linux 4.20~5.0, continued open-source graphics driver advancements, Valve announcing Steam Play / Proton, many Vulkan milestones, and countless other reasons for Linux and open-source fans to celebrate. On the hardware front was also extremely busy with the AMD Threadripper 2 launch, the recent GeForce RTX graphics card launch delivering great performance for Linux gamers but at a significant cost, and continued hardware testing around Spectre mitigation.

Over the past three months on Phoronix, there have been 884 original news articles and 75 featured articles/reviews... And there's still plenty coming up this weekend before the quarter is over with averaging around ten news articles and one featured hardware article/review each and every day of the year. All of the articles this quarter were written by your's truly. Unfortunately there's the need to reiterate it a bit often due to all of the ad-blocking that goes on and jeopardizes my continued Linux hardware testing and news coverage, consider showing your support by joining Phoronix Premium or making a PayPal tip so that my 100+ hour work weeks invested into the Phoronix work can continue. Premium yields ad-free access to the site, multi-page articles on a single page, and much more.

Of the nearly 900 original news articles on Phoronix this quarter, the top 20 highlights included:

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.

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.

AMD Contributes 8.5x More Code To The Linux Kernel Than NVIDIA, But Intel Still Leads
Given all the new hardware enablement work going into the Linux kernel recently, I was curious how the code contributions were stacking up by some of the leading hardware vendors... Here are those interesting numbers.

Some Linux Gamers Using Wine/DXVK To Play Blizzard's Overwatch Banned - Updated
Multiple individuals are reporting that they have been just recently banned by Blizzard for playing their games -- seemingly Overwatch is the main title -- when using Wine with the DXVK D3D11-over-Vulkan translation layer.

The Linux Kernel Adopts A Code of Conduct
Prior to releasing Linux 4.19-rc4 and Linus Torvalds taking a temporary leave of absence to reflect on his behavior / colorful language, he did apply a Code of Conduct to the Linux kernel.

Linux 4.19-rc4 Released As Linus Temporarily Steps Away From Kernel Maintainership
Linux 4.19-rc4 is out today as the very latest weekly development test kernel for Linux 4.19. It's another fairly routine kernel update at this stage, but more shocking is that Linus Torvalds will be taking a temporary leave from kernel maintainership and Greg Kroah-Hartman will take over the rest of the Linux 4.19 cycle.

Apple Rejects iOS App For Using MoltenVK Vulkan, Alleged Non-Public API
Back in February MoltenVK was open-sourced as part of The Khronos Group and Valve working harder to get Vulkan working on macOS/iOS by mapping it through to using Apple's Metal Graphics/Compute API. The most notable user of MoltenVK on macOS to date is the Vulkan Dota 2 on Mac, but for those looking to use this Vulkan-to-Metal framework on iOS, it looks like Apple might be clamping down.

Fedora 29 Is Shaping Up To Be A Very Exciting Release
While Fedora 28 has been a fantastic release, Fedora 29 that is currently under development for releasing in October is going to be what feels like a massive amount of changes.

10 Reasons Linux Gamers Might Want To Pass On The NVIDIA RTX 20 Series
Continuing on from the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 expectations on Linux shared earlier this week, here's a list of ten reasons why Linux gamers might want to pass on these soon-to-launch graphics cards from NVIDIA.

Linus Torvalds On Linux 4.19: "This Merge Window Has Been Horrible"
While Linux 4.19 is slated to have a lot of new features as we have been covering now the past week and a half, Linus Torvalds is upset with these big pull requests and some of them being far from perfect -- to the extent of being rejected.

A Look At The Windows 10 vs. Linux Power Consumption On A Dell XPS 13 Laptop
With the current-generation Dell XPS 13 XPS9370-7002SLV currently being tested at Phoronix, one of the areas I was most anxious to benchmark was the power consumption... For years it has been a problem of Linux on laptops generally leading to less battery life than on Windows, but in the past ~2+ years there has been some nice improvements within the Linux kernel and a renewed effort by developers at Red Hat and elsewhere on improving the Linux laptop battery life. Here are some initial power consumption numbers for this Dell XPS 13 under Windows 10 and then various Linux distributions.

There Are A Ton Of New Features/Improvements Heading Towards Linux 4.19
While the Linux 4.18 kernel is still likely a week and a half out from being released at least, a ton of new material has been staged already ahead of the Linux 4.19 cycle that has us excited.

Intel Releases New BSD-Licensed Open-Source Firmware Implementation
At the European Open-Source Firmware Conference happening this week in Erlangen, Intel announced the open-source "Slimbootloader" (also referred to as Slim Bootloader) project that is quite exciting.

The Best Features Of The Linux 4.18 Kernel
Following a one week delay, the Linux 4.18 kernel is set to be released this coming weekend. In case you forgot about the new features and improvements since the Linux 4.18 cycle kicked off back in June, here's a look back at some of the most prominent additions for this latest kernel version.

Linus Torvalds Is Hoping WireGuard Will Be Merged Sooner Rather Than Later
While the WireGuard secure VPN tunnel was just sent out this week for review as the first formal step towards getting it mainlined in the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds is already looking forward to it.

A Global Switch To Kill Linux's CPU Spectre/Meltdown Workarounds?
Something I have seen asked in our forums and elsewhere -- most recently on the kernel mailing list -- is whether there is a single kernel option that can be used for disabling all of the Spectre/Meltdown workarounds and any other performance-hurting CPU vulnerability workarounds.

Linux 4.19 Certainly Is Going To Be A Big Kernel
At the end of July I outlined some of the changes queued for Linux 4.19 while since then several more notable additions have become aligned for this next kernel cycle following the one week delay of Linux 4.18.

The Linux Kernel Has Grown By 225k Lines of Code So Far This Year From 3.3k Developers
After writing yesterday about kernel contributions of AMD vs. NVIDIA vs. Intel, I kicked off the hours-long process of gitstats analyzing the Linux kernel Git repository for some fresh numbers on the current kernel development trends.

Fedora 29 Dropping GCC From Their Default Build Root Has Been Causing A Heated Debate
One of the surprisingly controversial changes being implemented for Fedora 29 is dropping GCC and GCC-C++ from the default BuildRoot for assembling Fedora packages with Koji and Mock.

L1 Terminal Fault - The Latest Speculative Execution Side Channel Attack
Details are still light but a new vulnerability is coming out called the L1 Terminal Fault. It's been described as a "train-wreck" and is another big deal in the security space as the latest speculative side-channel attack vector.

And the most viewed featured articles:

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.

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.

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.

A Look At The Windows vs. Linux Scaling Performance Up To 64 Threads With The AMD 2990WX
This past week we looked at the Windows 10 vs. Linux performance for AMD's just-launched Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX and given the interest from that then ran some Windows Server benchmarks to see if the performance of this 64-thread CPU would be more competitive to Linux. From those Windows vs. Linux tests there has been much speculation that the performance disparity is due to Windows scheduler being less optimized for high core/thread count processors and its NUMA awareness being less vetted than the Linux kernel. For getting a better idea, here are benchmarks of Windows Server 2019 preview versus Ubuntu Linux when testing varying thread/core counts for the AMD Threadripper 2990WX.

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.

Dell XPS 13 Kabylake Makes For A Great Linux Laptop
When it comes to new laptops for the summer of 2018 that are Linux-friendly, the latest-generation Dell XPS 13 with Intel Kabylake-R processor ranks high on that list. Recent in upgrading my main production workstation, I decided to go with the Dell XPS 13 9370 while using Fedora Workstation 28 and it's been a phenomenal combination. Here are my thoughts on the current Dell XPS 13 as well as some benchmarks and other information.

The NVIDIA/AMD Linux GPU Gaming Benchmarks & Performance-Per-Dollar For July 2018
In part with GPU demand by crypto-currency miners waning a bit, NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics card availability at retailers has been improving in recent weeks as well as seeing less inflated prices than just recently had been the case. Given the better availability and stabilizing prices, here is a fresh look of the current line-up of GeForce and Radeon graphics cards under Ubuntu Linux using the newest AMD/NVIDIA drivers and also providing performance-per-dollar metrics given current retail prices.

AMD Ryzen 7 2700X: Windows 10 vs. Linux Performance
Recently there have been several Linux distribution benchmark comparisons on Phoronix to test the latest Linux OS releases, including several comparing to the current Microsoft Windows 10 performance. Those recent tests have all be done with various Intel CPUs, but for those curious about the AMD Windows vs. Linux performance, here are some fresh benchmarks as we approach the end of July.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 To RTX 2080 Ti Graphics/Compute Performance
Yesterday were the initial NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Linux benchmarks based upon my early testing of this high-end Turing graphics card paired with their new 410 Linux graphics driver. For your viewing pleasure today is a look at how the RTX 2080 Ti compares to the top-end cards going back to Kepler... Or, simply put, it's the GeForce GTX 680 vs. GTX 780 Ti vs. 980 Ti vs. 1080 Ti vs. 2080 Ti comparison with OpenGL and Vulkan graphics tests as well as some initial OpenCL / CUDA tests but more Turing GPU compute tests are currently being conducted. For making this historical comparison more interesting are also power consumption and performance-per-Watt metrics.

Initial NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Linux Benchmarks
Here are the first of many benchmarks of the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti "Turing" graphics card under Linux with this initial piece exploring the OpenGL/Vulkan gaming performance.

ROC-RK3328-CC: A Raspberry Pi Competitor With Gigabit Ethernet, USB3, DDR4
The folks from LoverPi.com have sent out some of their newest ARM SBCs. What we're taking a look and benchmarking first is the Libre Computer Board ROC-RK3328-CC. Pricing on this board, which was developed between the Libre Computer Project and Firefly, starts at $35 USD with 1GB of DDR4 but at $80 USD a 4GB version can be acquired. This quad-core 64-bit ARM board has modern features like Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and other interfaces over what is found with current generation Raspberry Pi hardware.

The Current Linux Performance On 22 Intel / AMD Desktop Systems
For your Linux benchmark viewing pleasure today are test results from twenty-two distinct Intel / AMD systems when running a recent release of the performance-optimized Clear Linux distribution and the hardware spanning from old AMD FX and Intel Core i3 Haswell CPUs up through the high-end desktop Core i9 and Threadripper processors.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Shows Very Strong Compute Performance Potential
Besides the new GeForce RTX 2080 series being attractive for developers wanting to make use of new technologies like RTX/ray-tracing, mesh shaders, and DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling), CUDA and OpenCL benchmarking so far on the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is yielding impressive performance -- even outside of the obvious AI / deep learning potential workloads with the Turing tensor cores. Here are some benchmarks looking at the OpenCL/CUDA performance on the high-end Maxwell, Pascal, and Turing cards as well as an AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 for reference. System power consumption, performance-per-Watt, and performance-per-dollar metrics also round out this latest Ubuntu Linux GPU compute comparison.

Intel Core i7 8086K Linux Performance
Intel announced the limited edition Core i7 8086K processor in June to celebrate 40 years since the introduction of the original 8086 processor that ushered in the x86 architecture. The Core i7 8086K is now widely available albeit with an apparent limited time available. This celebratory CPU is built off Intel's existing Coffeelake CPU micro-architecture but with an elevated CPU base frequency and a turbo frequency that tops out at 5.0GHz to make it the company's highest-performing mainstream desktop CPU to date.

The Performance Hit For A Xeon-Backed Ubuntu Linux VM With L1TF / Foreshadow Patches
Last week L1 Terminal Fault (a.k.a. L1TF and Foreshadow) was made public as the latest set of speculative execution vulnerabilities affecting Intel processors. This Meltdown-like issue was met by same-day Linux kernel patches for mitigating the problem and does introduce another performance penalty but in this case is at least only limited to virtual machines. Last week I posted some initial L1TF-mitigated KVM-based VM benchmark results using a Core i7 CPU but the results for sharing today are using a much more powerful dual Xeon server.

September 2018 Drivers: The Current Linux Performance & Perf-Per-Watt From NVIDIA Kepler To Pascal vs. AMD
There is one week to go until NVIDIA begins shipping the GeForce RTX 2080 "Turing" series but while waiting for that hardware, here is a look back at how various graphics cards are performing for Linux games from the GTX 1000 Pascal series back through the GTX 600 Kepler series. On the AMD side in this comparison is also going from Vega back to the GCN 1.0 Southern Islands. The Vulkan/OpenGL Linux gaming performance is being looked at as well as the overall system power consumption and performance-per-Watt.

A Quick Look At The Windows Server vs. Linux Performance On The Threadripper 2990WX
One of the frequent requests/comments stemming from the launch-day Windows 10 vs. Linux benchmarks on the new AMD Threadripper 2990WX were questions about whether this 32-core / 64-thread processor would do better with Windows Server given Microsoft's obvious tuning of that Windows flavor to high core/thread counts... Well, here are some initial figures with Windows Server 2016 and a Windows Server 2019 preview.

Windows Server 2016 vs. FreeBSD 11.2 vs. 8 Linux Distributions Performance
Given the recent releases of FreeBSD 11.2, Scientific Linux 6.10, openSUSE Leap 15, and other distribution updates in the past quarter, here are some fresh benchmarks of eight different Linux distributions compared to FreeBSD 11.2 and Microsoft Windows Server 2016. The tested Linux platforms for this go-around were CentOS 7.5, Clear Linux 23610, Debian 9.4, Fedora Server 28, openSUSE leap 15.0, Scientific Linux 6.10, Scientific Linux 7.5, and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

NVIDIA 396.54 Linux Driver Offers Big Performance Boost For Frequent Gamers
Yesterday NVIDIA released the 396.54 Linux driver update and while from being another point release might feel like a mundane update hot on the heels of the GeForce RTX 2070/2080 series debut, it's actually a significant driver update for Linux gamers. Here are some benchmarks showcasing the performance fix that warranted this new driver release.

The Current Linux Performance With 16 ARM Boards
Last week I provided a fresh look at the latest Linux performance on 22 Intel/AMD systems while for kicking off the benchmarking this week is a look at the current Linux performance on sixteen different ARM single board computers / developer boards from low-end to high-end.
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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