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Operating Systems: Linux 4.14 now manages 128 petabytes of RAM

Sunday, September 17th, 2017 | Gadgets

With the publication of the first release candidate of the next Linux kernel 4.14, the time window for the submission of new codes is closed and the test phase is initiated. Linux 4.14 a long-term care (LTS) is obtained. One of the most exciting innovations is probably the support of the so-called five-level table pages, which enable virtual memory management of up to 128 petabytes and 4 petabytes of physical memory by processors. Even if the kernel developer Jonathan Corbet ironically notes that more memory would not be needed in the future, at least some supercomputers already suffered under the previous limitation on 256 terabytes of virtual and 64 terabytes of physical memory.
More memory also for AMD's drivers
The AMD developers are still working on the display core code in the AMDGPU driver, which only allows output to a screen connected to a Vega card. There is a to-do list, in which AMD developers have grouped code parts where they still want to work. In Linux 4.14, however, there are updates for the AMDGPU driver, which include the use of larger memory pages (Huge Pages). Thus the performance can be increased particularly when using the Vulkan-API. AMD's driver for APUs AMDKFU improves the use of cache and tiling of images on AMD Kaveri and Carrizo processors.

The free Nouveau Nvidia graphics card driver can now set kernel-driven screen resolutions for GeForce GT 1030, but without hardware acceleration. The VC4 driver responsible for graphics chips of the Raspberry Pi now controls CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) via HDMI and has received further optimization. There are also numerous patches for the GPU graphics processor in Cannon-Lake CPUs, although the support for the Gen10-mentioned GPU is not yet complete.

Redundant firmware has been removed
Firmware will be exclusively from the external package Linux firmware and no longer directly from the firmware directory of the kernel sources. This has long been decided and implemented since 2013. Since then, the redundant firmware directory is orphaned in the source code of the kernel and has now been removed at the instigation of Greg Kroah-Hartman. This made the Linux sources more than 120,000 lines easier.
From the Facebook developers, the compression method Zstd for file systems now comes into the kernel, which has been in use with Facebook for some time in combination with Btrfs. Zstd promises a similar high compression rate, like the current Zlib, but should allow a much faster compression and decompression. Compared to Lzo, on the other hand, the compression rate of Zstd should be higher. Zstd is not only available in the kernel for the file system Btrfs, but can also be used there with SquashFS. Further cleanup work has been carried out to Btrfs, including optimizing the storage management and error processing.
Power supply for BFQ
Ext4 has received little new code, which improves, among other things, the scaling in the allocation of inodes. In XFS, minor error corrections were also introduced. The responsible developer Derrick Wong suggests that there will instead be major changes in the next Linux kernel 4.15.
The Scheduler Budget Fair Queuing (BFQ), which was introduced in Linux 4.12, has received numerous optimizations, which according to developers should bring a noticeable performance boost. Completely FairQueuing (CFQ) has also received improvements and preliminary work that will enable multi-pathing for NVMe in a later version.
Linux puts systems better sleep
The CPU frequency governors (Cpufreq), which are responsible for managing the clock frequencies of processors, can now address several different CPUs. This is intended not only to ensure better energy management, but also to allow an optimized response time when changes in system load occur. The Intel drivers responsible for the P-States also received improvements. In addition, the Linux kernel is designed to recognize more systems that use the more modern sleep mode (S2I, modern standby) and use it instead of S3 (suspend-to-RAM). S2I is now used in modern notebooks and makes them wake up much faster when the lid is opened. In addition, the network connection is maintained in the sleep state. This is however at the expense of a slightly higher power consumption.
The cryptographic subsystem in Linux 4.14 supports AMD's Secure Processor, which is embedded in the form of a Cortex-A5 in current APUs and CPUs and uses ARMs Trustzone. RSA, XSTS-AES-128 and XTS-AES-256 are supported. In addition, the AMD Secure processor handles key management and can address the Trusted Execution Enviroment (TEE) introduced in Linux 4.12. The support for the encryption of the working memory, called Secure Memory Encryption introduced with AMD's new EPYC CPUs, now also implements Linux 4.14.
If it remains with the usual six-week test phase, the final version of Linux 4.14 is released at the end of October 2017. The latest trial version can be downloaded from kernel.org.


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