Now That The Linux Kernel Can Be Zstd-Compressed, The Next Step Is The Firmware
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 21 August 2020 at 10:05 AM EDT. 34 Comments
LINUX KERNEL --
With Linux 5.9 comes the ability to compress the Linux kernel image / initrd with Zstd for yielding faster boot speeds but at a compression ratio between Gzip and XZ/LZMA. Being proposed next with the widespread adoption of Facebook's Zstd is compressing the kernel microcode/firmware files.

A patch was sent out today to allow supporting Zstd-compressed firmware files by the Linux kernel. This in turn would basically allow the Zstandard compression algorithm to be used not only for kernel/initrd image compression but also for the many firmware files found on the system.

The proposed patch adds support so the kernel will properly deal with decompressing firmware files ending in ".zstd" prior to applying the firmware.

The patch is quite straight forward so hopefully we'll see this Zstd-compressed firmware support made available for Linux 5.10.

When pulling linux-firmware.git this morning, the raw tree came in at 593MB. For a rough gauge when XZ'ing an archive of the firmware tree it dropped to 125MB or 204MB for Zstd when using the default compression level while Zstd easily wins for decompression speed.
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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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