Linux Kernel 5.12 RC-1 Released with Many ARM Board Support

3 min

The merge window for Linux Kernel 5.12 is closed and with that, Linux Kernel 5.12 RC-1 (release candidate) is now released for testing. This release brings many new features and improvements.

Linux Kernel 5.12 is going to be the second Kernel release of 2021 following the Kernel 5.11. This release is bringing moderate changes across the Kernel modules. The changes are also not that much compared to the prior releases due to the power cut which is faced by Linus Torvalds for winter ice storm.

Kernel 5.12
Kernel 5.12

That said, we have now have two unusual merge windows in a row: first we had the holiday season, and this time around the Portland area had over a quarter million people without electricity because we had a winter ice storm that took down thousands of trees, and lots of
electricity lines.

So I was actually without electricity for six days of the merge
window, and was seriously considering just extending the merge window to get everything done.

But partly this is also because 5.12 is a smaller release than some
previous ones – and that wasn’t due to the lack of electricity, that
showed independently in the statistics in the linux-next tree. Of
course, “smaller” is all relative, but instead of the 12-13+k commits
we’ve had the last few releases, linux-next this time only had 10+k
commits lined up. So that helped things a bit.


Let’s take a look at what are the new features that are expected from the Kernel 5.12.

Linux Kernel 5.12 – New Features


  • The Intel eASIC N5X Device (custom logic-based chip to power all types of devices) support lands in this Kernel.
  • Also, the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G Mobile platform support is included.
  • The NetGear R8000P Nighthawk X6S WiFi router
  • Allwinner H616 support as a video decoding SoC for OTT
  • Lenovo Laptop Platform Profile Support lands in this Kernel which gives the ability to the users to change the hardware profiles of the Laptop to the desired use case. For example, different profiles such as quiet mode, cool mode, balanced more, or low-power mode – these all handled by the Lenovo hardware with options to modify using scripts.
  • Microsoft Surface devices should run well and optimized thanks to the reverse-engineered Microsoft Surface System Aggregator Module handling.
  • Dynamic Thermal Power Management (DTPM) supports lands in this Kernel for mostly ARM devices. The code is supposed to restrict power to a set of devices when the surface temperature crosses a certain threshold.
  • A bunch of old ARM CPU support ends with this Kernel. A quick list is here.


  • Like every Kernel released, the several file systems see more fixes and performance improvements.
  • XFS and Btrfs see additional performance improvements. Btrfs have not better flushing operations during write and delete, zoned mode support.


  • More updates and fixes lands for Intel Rocker Lake and Tigerlake GPUs.
  • Qualcomm mobile phone graphics units Adreno 508, 509, and 512 support added in this cycle which are part of Snapdragon units in mobile devices.
  • Half precision FP16 pixel format support for more Radeon GPUs lands,
  • Radeon RX 6800/6900 series overclocking support is added.
  • Variable Refresh Rate or Adaptive Sync support via display port for Intel Xe (Gen12)
  • Tiger Lake devices are now supported by mainline Kernel. Remember this is not yet available via HDMI port due to HDMI specification restriction for the public.

Other devices, ports

  • USB4 port supports seeing continuous improvements.
  • Each Kernel release brings much new hardware support for various vendors. Here’s a quick catch up of the supports that are arriving in Kernel 5.12
  • Sony PlayStation 5 DualSense controller driver is merged in this Kernel.
    Broadcom VK accelerator driver is added.
  • The laptop’s hinge, keyboard angle can now is supported by code in this Kernel. This improves user interactions and opens up various application features.
  • Pioneer DJM-750 digital audio mixer support is added.
  • The old game console Nintendo 64 support is now added. (I don’t see a point of this, though. Because you can play the games using emulators easily).
  • If you work with sounds, it’s not easy to debug Sound features in your application with the inclusion of software-based audio jack injection flags.

Overall, many changes are seen on small form factor devices and the addition of drivers for many new devices across vendors in Linux Kernel 5.12 RC-1. Usual changes across the storage and graphics phase. This means it is going to be a quiet Kernel release.

Linux Kernel 5.12 will be available with mainstream Linux distributions most probably from Q3 2021 onwards. The LTS releases would stick to the current stable Linux Kernel 5.10.


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