Linux Kernel

Linux Kernel 4.15 Release

Linux Kernel 4.15 – The Latest Casualty of Spectre and Meltdown

The real meltdown from the CPU fiasco came this week with Linus Torvalds rant against Intel. In true Linus form, he didn’t mince words about Intel.  Honestly – their decision in continuing to ship flawed chips and marketing their software protection as a feature, is kind of sketchy. Of course, it does allow them to continue to ship chips without a serious reduction in performance.

Regardless of the genius behind the marketing spin, it potentially puts the average user at risk.  Those not savvy enough to ensure they set the bypass flag, will continue to be vulnerable to the flaw.  So will those who choose to risk vulnerability for the added performance boost.  Without getting philosophical, This thread from the Kernel mailing list shows Linus’ disapproval of Intel’s decision.

That said – the flaw has added workload to the Linux Kernel development team which may or may not have been the reason for the release candidate 9, the highest release candidate for any kernel version since 2011.  Instead of shipping his latest release, Linus decided to incubate what he considered an unfinished product.

So, what can we expect from the 4.15 when it is released next week?  There are a few notable additions.

The kernel adds support for the Radeon RX Vega cards.  This is probably a huge win for die-hard gamers.  From the opinion of a non-gamer, this represents a noticeable performance boost for Ethereum miners.

The next release could also offer support for RISC-V architecture.  This introduces out-of-the-box support for a wide range of new devices.

4.15 adds temperature support for CPUs and graphics.  It adds code for the AMD Zen temperature monitoring for Ryzen / Threadripper / EPYC processor(s).  Another big addition for AMD followers.  As well as support for the NVIDIA Pascal graphics cards.

This release will also include significant changes to the XFS file system.  While 4.14 fixed a number of persistent bugs, 4.15 should have some new code added to the release.

So, while the release delay was overshadowed by Linus’ entertaining outburst, it has some exciting features.  RC9 should be delivered as 4.15 this week, barring any further delays.  Truth be told, I would pass on the release to listen to another rant from Linus.

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Brad Patton

Brad Patton is a software engineering consultant and writer who delivers high quality software systems to his clients. He received his undergraduate and graduate degree in Computer Science. Brad leverages his expertise in programming and mathematics to develop profitable algorithmic trading strategies. He shares his experience by writing about his tools and strategies. He can be found on Twitter at @BradleyPatton.