The merge window for Linux Kernel 5.11 is closed and with that, Linux Kernel 5.11 rc1 (release candidate) is now released for testing. This release brings many new features and improvements.
Linux Kernel 5.11 is the first Kernel release of 2021 and as per Linus, it is “solidly average” in size considering the lines of code and features. It is comparatively small than the prior LTS Kernel 5.10 which was a big release.
“Well, it’s average, unless you look at the actual diffs, and notice another 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. We’ve had it before, I’m sure we’ll see it in the future too: header files probably generated from the hardware description for all the possible bit masks etc get very very big.”Linus in the announcement
That being said, let’s take a look at what are the new features that are expected from the first Kernel release of 2021.
Linux Kernel 5.11 rc1 – New Features
Although the changes are huge, here are the important ones from all the subsystems.
AMD Zen1/Zen2/Zen3 PowerCap RAPL (Runtime Average Power Limiting) Support is added. The power capping feature was there for Intel hardware which is now being added for AMD Zen initial series of processors.
AMD SFH Driver (Sensor Fusion Hub) driver is being included in this Kernel. This driver handles the gyroscope and other sensors in AMD based Ryzen series of laptops.
AMD SoC PMC (system-on-chip power management controller) driver is included which brings better power management on Ryzen notebooks, AMD Chromebooks.
Software Guard Extensions support for Intel processors finally lands. This brings better security on DRM, web browsing and encryption keys handling, etc cases.
Intel Platform Monitoring Technology (PMT) is now supported by this Kernel. This feature helps to collect telemetry about devices and managing them. This is beneficial for large organizations and data centers that handle huge sets of devices.
- Initial support added for AMD Van Gogh APU and Green Sardine APU devices.
- Many DRM updates – following the tradition of all Kernel releases.
- Intel Keem Bay display support.
- More support added for Radeon RX 6800 and Intel DG1.
- The Btrfs sees continuous improvements like all the Kernel releases. This release also adds many additions as well.
- Other file systems that see many improvements are F2FS, XFS, VirtIO-FS.
Other hardware (major ones)
- Support added for ASUS new gaming laptop keyboards.
- More USB4 and Thunderbolt port improvements.
- Pioneer DDJ-RR DJ controller support.
Overall, many changes are seen on AMD processors and GPU units and the addition of drivers for many new devices across vendors. Small changes in the storage space though compared to earlier Kernel releases. So, it’s a moderate to a high volume of changes in this Kernel.
Ubuntu 21.04 Hirsute Hippo and Fedora 34 is expected to feature the Linux Kernel 5.11.