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Linux 5.11 dominated by descriptors for new AMD silicon

Source: The Register

Linus Torvalds has been back at work for a week and already has a second release candidate ready. What’s your excuse?

Linux overlord Linus Torvalds has urged developers to “crawl out from under all the xmas wrapping paper piles and go test” after releasing release candidate two of version 5.11 of the Linux kernel.”

You read that right: Torvalds is already up to rc2, having released rc1 on December 27th, 2020.

On that not-very-busy-for-most-people day Torvalds noted that far and away the biggest piece of new code in version 5.11 was a “huge dump of AMD GPU descriptor header files, which completely dwarfs all the ‘real’ changes here.”

“The AMD ‘Van Gogh’ include file additions are in fact about two thirds of the whole patch, even if it comes from basically one single commit that just adds the register definitions.

“Van Gogh” is the codename for future AMD CPUs that will bake in the company’s next-gen “Navi” graphics silicon, kit so powerful AMD hopes it raises the bar for integrated graphics and therefore makes discrete GPUs less attractive. The devices are thought to use the Xen 2 engine and to be aimed at the ultramobile and/or embedded device market. Rumours suggest the devices will emerge mid-2021, while AMD is expected to discuss the details of the products at the virtual CES conference next week.

As Linux 5.11 is at least five weeks from completion, the kernel will be ready to handle the silicon in a timely fashion.

Torvalds is uncertain that this release will be swift. In his missive announcing rc2 he said that while the holiday season “didn’t end up affecting things all that much” in terms of new submissions arriving during the merge window, “people have (rightly) mostly been offline since, presumably over-eating and doing all the other traditional holiday things. And just generally not being hugely active.”

The result is a “tiny” rc2 and some Torvaldsian pondering about whether a small rc3 could spell delays, or if version 5.11 will just be a small one because it comes after a long-term-servicing release that naturally gets more attention.

Version 5.11 includes support for Intel’s SGX Enclaves, Guitar Hero controllers and the OUYA Game Console. WiMAX support has been demoted to staging. There’s also the usual round of patches to Xen, support for new Arm SoCs, filesystem fixes, and the addition of support for SD Express cards. ®

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