Linux kernel 4.4 brings 3D acceleration for virtual desktop

Jan

12

2016

Linus Torvalds has released version 4.4 of the Linux kernel released Sunday night. The addition of hardware opensource 3D support for Linux virtual desktops is one of the most eye-catching change, in addition to many improvements for AMD’s GPU.

By adding hardware 3D acceleration in the virtual GPU driver virtio GPU leverages the computer’s graphics card efficiently, allowing for example, users can play an opengl game in a virtualized Linux system with GPU capabilities of the host along with QEMU 2.5. A form of 3D acceleration for guests is much older in VirtualBox and VMWare, but virtualisations are not completely open source. This code works alongside QEMU with Mesa.

Furthermore, support for AMD Stoney added to the kernel. Stoney is a future AMD APU. There are also several GPU changes were made for owners of AMD Carrizo, Tonga or Fiji GPUs. There is no PowerPlay support, but it is planned for the open source driver in Linux 4.5.

Raspberry Pi owners get a Pi KMS driver, allowing the graphics capabilities of the Pi’s are no better off. Hardwarmatige 3D support is not built into the kernel driver, but Broadcom developer Eric Anholt is there according to Phoronix still working on.

Nvidia owners can expect increased stability of the Nouveau drivers and extra features for different clock settings. For the GeForce GTX 900 series lacks hardware acceleration even in the open source drivers.

LightNVM also adds support for open-channel SSD’s. Open-channel SSDs are SSDs that do not build their own firmware into the flash translation layer, but the physical solid-state storage to leave it to the operating system. Other changes have to do with better 64bit ARM support and improvements to memory usage at Skylake Intel processors. Within the network device is a thing changed, so there is Very High Thoughput- added support for mesh networking and a new Realtek rtl8xxxu-WiFi driver. A detailed list of changes can be found at kernelnewbies.org.

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