Linus Torvalds has announced the release of Linux Kernel 5.7 after seven weeks of development. The release announcement comes as a piece of exciting news as it brings a host of new features for the hardware manufacturers as well as the developers.
Let’s take a deep dive and look at what’s new in the Linux kernel 5.7 so that you can decide if you need to upgrade your Linux kernel on your PC. Typically, most of the end-users don’t always have to update their kernels manually unless they know what they are doing. Upgrading Kernel is not still a smooth process, and one must exercise caution before doing so.
Top Features of Linux Kernel 5.7
1. Hardware support to the new exFAT driver
Maintained by Samsung, the new exFAT filesystem driver replaces the exFAT driver that has been around for quite a while, developed by Microsoft. Samsung’s involvement in the coding of the new exFAT comes as a blessing as its exFAT driver is more capable, and the new code is being actively worked upon.
2. Tiger Lake enabled by default
Although Tiger Lake started creeping into the Linux Kernel development from the past over a year, Linux 5.7 kernel is the first release where the Tiger lake Gen12 graphics support is enabled by default. For those new to Tiger Lake, it is designed to replace Ice Lake in Intel’s Process-Architecture-Optimization model and is based on the third-generation 10nm process node named 10nm++.
3. Extended ARM devices support
Linux 5.7 also comes up with the mainline support for the latest breed of ARM devices such as PineTab, PineBook Pro, and PinePhone. Support for Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 is also added. Mediatek also gets some attention as the MT8516 SoC that is commonly used by the voice assistants gets better support.
4. Thermal Pressure checking with Task Scheduler
Another critical feature that indirectly gives better performance is the ability of the Kernel scheduler to communicate with the CPU’s thermal sensor so that it knows the reduced clock speed due to overheating. This, in turn, makes the Kernel make better decisions on allocating the resources. It is surprising that until today, the Linux Kernel schedular is not informed with the CPU’s speed throttling due to thermal issues.
5. Zstd Compression Support
Also included in this release is the Zstd transparent filesystem compression support. Thanks to the Flash-Friendly File-System (F2FS) maintainer Jaegeuk Kim from Huawei, the Zstandard compression algorithm is merged into the Kernel. With this filesystem-level compression support, it means setting compress_algorithm=zstd when mounting an F2FS filesystem can enable this Zstd compression capability.
6. Updates For Intel SpeedSelect Technology and Jasper Lake PMC
Some enhancements to the x86 platform drivers, including Intel SpeedSelect Technology, are applied in this release. New features include displaying the enabled CPU core count, better error reporting, and several bugfixes. Apart from that, Intel Power Management Controller for the PCH support for the Atom-based Jasper Lake is added as well.
7. IO_uring improvements
IO_uring is a significant development that has taken place in the world of Linux storage space. This technology enables a faster and efficient read-write performance. With Linux 5.7, more improvements are added, including support for buffer selection, improved IO-WQ locking, support for splice, and several other enhancements that will make this technology great and broader applications.
8. Better Meson video decode support
Linux 5.7 brings some important media updates as well. Primarily, VP9 decoding, H.264 decoding, and HEVC decode support for Amlogic Meson VDEC driver is now included. A new imx219 i2c driver for Sony IMX219 CSI2 8MPix sensor is also added. Other major media updates include support for 10-bit bitstreams in the Venus VDEC driver and AST2600 support within the ASpeed driver. You can see the full list of media updates in the Linux 5.7 pull request.
9. In-Kernel Pointer Authentication, Activity Monitors for ARM
The future of ARM is bright. Unarguably, the ARM architecture has received a lot of attention in the Linux 5.7 release. In-kernel pointer authentication is now supported. This pointer authentication purpose is to mitigate ROP and other buffer-overrun-style attacks. With Linux 5.7, the authentication works inside the Kernel, hence safer to the computer worms.
10. Other Updates
Those were the main new features in the Linux 5.7 release. To wrap-up, other updates include ACPI support for USB interface devices, Improved Longsoon 3 CPU support, Support for Apple’s USB Fast Charge, EFI boot handling improvements, HDR/OLED panel support in AMDGPU, and SELinux performance optimizations.