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Graphics: DRM-Next, RadeonSI and Vulkan

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  • The Great Work In DRM-Next: More Icelake, Vega 20, xGMI & Other Additions

    Whether it's called Linux 4.20 or Linux 5.0, the next kernel cycle is bringing a heck of a lot of improvements for the open-source graphics/display drivers on the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) front.

    With the period for merging new feature work into DRM-Next ahead of this next Linux kernel cycle effectively being over, here's a look back at the mass amount of new feature code that's queued and waiting for this next kernel merge window to begin within a week or two.

  • RadeonSI Fast Color Clears Should Now Be Even Faster

    Prolific Radeon Mesa contributor Marek Olšák of AMD started off his Sunday by posting another set of RadeonSI driver patches.

    These four patches for now are just on the mailing list but will presumably soon be part of Mesa 18.3-dev. One of the patches is worth noting in that compute shaders are now used for clear and copy buffers. Marek noted that fast color clears as a result should be much faster. If you happen to hit fast color clears on evicted buffers, he noted they should now be 200x faster on GFX8 hardware and older. GFX8 covers Polaris going back to Fiji and Tonga, so basically any GCN GPUs pre-Vega should be helped out with this latest patch work.

  • Vulkan 1.1.87 Released But Not Yet Any Experimental Transform Feedback

    Vulkan 1.1.87 is another Sunday morning update to the Vulkan graphics/compute specification.

    This time around, however, there are no new Vulkan extensions... Most notably we have been looking forward to the unofficial Vulkan transform feedback extension for helping out projects like DXVK and VKD3D for mapping Direct3D with Stream Outputs on top of Vulkan. This is expected within "weeks" but didn't make the cut for the Vulkan 1.1.87 specification update.

Graphics: Mesa 18.2.2 Released and Kazan Vulkan CPU/Software-Based Implementation Being Rewritten In Rust

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  • mesa 18.2.2

    Mesa 18.2.2 is now available.

    In this release we have:

    Different patches for the DirectX9 and DRI state trackers.

  • Mesa 18.2.2 Released With RADV GTA V Fix, Vulkan Additions & D3D9 Patches

    Mesa 18.2.2 is out this morning as the second point release to the Q3'2018 stable release series.

  • The Kazan Vulkan CPU/Software-Based Implementation Being Rewritten In Rust

    Remember Kazan, the project originally known as Vulkan-CPU? That was the Google Summer of Code 2017 project to implement a CPU/software-based Vulkan driver. It had been dormant since GSoC 2017 ended, but now work on it has been restarted.

    Kazan development stalled shortly after GSoC 2017 when the student developer Jacob Lifshay was busy again with university. But now after a year he's decided to working on Kazan.

RADV vs. AMDVLK vs. Radeon Software Vulkan Driver Performance - October 2018 Linux Gaming

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Given AMD's weekly updating of the public AMDVLK Vulkan driver source tree as their official open-source Vulkan Linux driver while RADV continues to be maintained as the popular open-source Radeon Vulkan driver within the Mesa source tree, here is a fresh look at how those competing drivers perform. Additionally there are the results from Radeon Software / AMDGPU-PRO using its closed-source Vulkan driver that is derived from the same sources as AMDVLK but built against AMD's proprietary shader compiler.

This round of benchmarking is a look at the fresh AMD Vulkan Linux driver performance on these three options when testing with a Radeon RX 580 and RX Vega 64 graphics cards. The same Core i7 8086K system was used the entire time (obviously) and it was running with Ubuntu 18.04 on the Linux 4.19-rc6 kernel. The Vulkan driver configurations came down to...

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Graphics: Linux GPU Drivers, Mesa, Freedreno and Intel

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  • Google Still Doesn't Trust Linux GPU Drivers Enough To Enable Chrome Video Acceleration

    It's 2018 and while Linux GPU drivers have improved a lot in recent years, Google engineers still don't find them reliable enough to ship the Chrome web-browser with GPU video decoding enabled.

    There was a discussion once again about shipping Chrome with Linux GPU video acceleration enabled. But once again Chrome developers feel that the cons and increased maintenance burden of having to deal with Linux GPU video acceleration problems outweigh the benefits of a better Linux video playback experience and possible power-savings. Of course, that's unless talking about Chrome OS where they do have GPU video acceleration within their Linux-based OS.

  • RADV In Mesa 18.2.2 Gets Steam Play + GTA V Fixes, SteamVR Hang Fix

    It's time for another two-week Mesa 18.2 point release, which is v18.2.2 and preparing for release on Friday.

    Mesa 18.2.2 is a much smaller update than Mesa 18.2.1 with just under two dozen fixes queued at this point, but there are some notable changes.

  • Freedreno Enables Hardware Binning For Adreno A6xx GPUs - Yields Better Performance

    The open-source 3D driver support for Qualcomm Adreno A6xx series hardware has taken another step forward with the latest Mesa 18.3-devel Git.

    The reverse-engineered Freedreno Gallium3D driver has enabled support for hardware binning on the A6xx series hardware, the latest generation of GPUs found in Qualcomm SoCs. It was just back in August that the initial A6xx support landed inside this Gallium3D driver.

  • Proposed Changes To Intel GPU Top Would Make It A More Useful Utility

    Among the developer/enthusiast tool-set of the Intel open-source Linux graphics driver developers has been Intel GPU Top (the command intel_gpu_top) that is distributed with the Intel-GPU-Tools collection. This GPU information utility inspired by Linux's well known top command reports for Intel HD/UHD/Iris Graphics hardware the usage information, but does require root privileges to operate. Intel GPU Top is about to get a major overhaul.

    Intel GPU Top hasn't been the most useful utility particularly among non-developers, but Intel's Tvrtko Ursulin is proposing a set of changes he entitled the "21st century intel_gpu_top." These 13 patches add a lot of useful reporting to the command-line based utility.

The Ubuntu Linux Performance Over The Past Six Years On An Intel Xeon Server

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In needing to make some room in the racks for some new hardware and some other interesting platforms on the way, I've retired the last of the Intel Nehalem era hardware at Phoronix that was still used for occasional historical Linux performance tests... I decided to take this Sun Microsystems SunFire X4170 server with dual Intel Xeon E5540 (Nehalem EP) processors for a final spin before pulling it from the racks. Here is a look at how the near-final Ubuntu 18.10 Linux performance compares to that of Ubuntu 12.10.

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Trying Out AMDGPU DRM-Next Ahead Of Linux 4.20~5.0

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With the two main set of AMDGPU DRM driver updates merged (one and two) to DRM-Next ahead of the next Linux kernel cycle, I decided to run some benchmarks on this code using Vega and Polaris hardware for seeing how the performance compares to that of the Linux 4.18 stable and Linux 4.19 Git kernels.

Linux 4.20 (or what will likely be renamed to Linux 5.0) will be another exciting release in the AMD space. This next kernel brings AMD Picasso APU support, initial xGMI support and AMDKFD compute support for Vega 20, AMDKFD compute code is merged into AMDGPU, various power management improvements, GPU scheduler load balancing, GPUVM virtual memory performance enhancements, and other updated bits.

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Graphics: Gallium, NVIDIA, AMDVLK, OpenCV

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  • Gallium Clover With SPIR-V & NIR Opening Up New Compute Options Inside Mesa

    One of the XDC2018 talks I was most looking forward to was the presentation by Red Hat's Karol Herbst and Rob Clark on their work with SPIR-V/NIR support inside Mesa for the context of OpenCL/compute support, which includes getting GPGPU computing on the Nouveau and Freedreno drivers.

  • NVIDIA Publishes Signed Volta Firmware Images For Enabling Open-Source Driver Support

    While there are no signs of an imminent "Turing" signed firmware release as a prerequisite for open-source driver support on the new GeForce RTX 2070/2080 series, NVIDIA has finally let loose the signed firmware images for Volta "GV100" hardware.

    Merged today to linux-firmware.git are the signed firmware images needed for enabling Volta GV100 hardware acceleration. Since the GeForce 900 "Maxwell" series, the GPUs require signed firmware images in order to enable hardware acceleration, which has made the newer GPUs much more open-source-unfriendly than Kepler and older generations. Without these signed binary blobs, the GPUs basically only work out with Nouveau for kernel mode-setting.

  • AMDVLK Driver Gets Fixes For DXVK, New Vulkan Extensions

    The AMD developers uploaded their public Git trees making up the "AMDVLK" open-source AMD Vulkan driver stack prior to ending out September.

    The highlights for this latest code drop, which continues happening roughly on a weekly release cadence, includes various fixes as well as new extensions for the newly-minted Vulkan 1.1.86. It also seems AMD developers are looking more at AMDVLK now with DXVK for Steam Play / Proton gaming.

  • Intel Begins Working On A Vulkan Compute Back-End For OpenCV Library

    As perhaps a sign of where Intel is heading for their GPU computing strategy with their in-development discrete GPUs, they are developing a Vulkan compute back-end for the widely-used OpenCV library. This Vulkan back-end is for handling GPU-based compute for neural networks with this Open Computer Vision library as an alternative to the CUDA and OpenCL GPU compute support.

Graphics: AMD, Vulkan and Arcan

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  • AMDGPU Driver To Allow Radeon GPU Fan Speed Controls Via Sysfs

    A set of five patches were sent out on Sunday by AMD's Rex Zhu that enable RPM fan settings to be viewed and manually toggled via the sysfs interface.

    For those wishing to manually override your Radeon graphics card fan control settings, the AMDGPU DRM driver will be offering this ability via sysfs. The new patches allow for the fan speed target to be viewed/set, the ability to read the min/max fan speed, and to enable/disable the fan sensor all via sysfs, making it easy to read or tune these values from the command-line or easy-to-create scripts.

  • Vulkan 1.1.86 Released With Driver Properties & Atomic INT64 Extensions

    The Khronos Working Group maintaining Vulkan have released their 1.1.86 specification update to end out September. This is one of the more interesting Vulkan updates in recent times.

  • Arcan 0.5.5, Durden 0.5

    We’ve accumulated enough features and fixes that it is time for yet another release. The beefier changelogs can be found here: (Arcan) and here: (Durden). Starting with the following video which consolidates the visible changes to (indirectly) Arcan and its reference desktop environment, Durden.

  • Arcan 0.5.5 + Durden 0.5 Released - The Display Server Stack Focusing On VR & More

    Arcan is that display server built originally off a game engine code base and has been building up a feature-set close to that of X11/Wayland. Durden is its accompanying desktop while the project has also been pursuing a virtual reality desktop and trying to work on other innovations in this space.

    This weekend Arcan 0.5.5 and Durden 0.5 have been released as the newest versions of this display stack and its reference desktop environment. Recent focuses for the project have been better BSD/OpenBSD support, packaging within Void Linux, and more. The graphics-related subsystem code in Arcan is getting squared away and soon will be focusing on the last area to go beyond feature parity with X.Org: advanced network support and not just "RDP/VNC nonsense."

Additional Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu 18.04 NVIDIA/AMD Graphics Benchmarks

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Earlier this week I published some initial Windows vs. Ubuntu graphics tests with a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and other NVIDIA graphics cards. While having that Windows 10 install around, I also did some comparison tests with a Radeon RX 580 and RX Vega 64 on this same system and using the latest AMD drivers.

For your viewing pleasure this weekend are some reference results when testing Ubuntu 18.04 and Windows 10 Pro on this same Core i7 8086K system that was maintained exactly the same through the duration of the tests. The graphics cards on the NVIDIA side were the GeForce GTX 1060, GTX 1080 Ti, and RTX 2080 Ti with the NVIDIA Windows 411.63 driver as the latest driver there while on the Linux side their latest driver (and the RTX launch driver) is the 410.57 driver. On the AMD side were the Radeon RX 580 and RX Vega 64 graphics cards. The latest Radeon Software Windows driver at the time of testing was the 18.9.2 release while on the Linux side was the Linux 4.19-rc5 kernel with Mesa 18.3-dev built against LLVM 8.0 SVN via the Padoka PPA.

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Following Mir 1.0, Developers Encouraged To Target Wayland Instead Of Mir Client API

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Last week Canonical developers released Mir 1.0 for the "next-generation of graphical solutions" particularly for IoT device makers. Mir lead developer Alan Griffiths published a bit of a redux today now with the 1.0 release out the door.

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More in Tux Machines

Qt/KDE: Qt for Python, Inkscape Dark Theme on KDE Plasma, Atelier at Maker Faire and QtCon 2018!

  • Python and Qt: 3,000 hours of developer insight
    With Qt for Python released, it’s time to look at the powerful capabilities of these two technologies. This article details one solopreneur’s experiences. [...] The big problem with Electron is performance. In particular, the startup time was too high for a file manager: On an admittedly old machine from 2010, simply launching Electron took five seconds. I admit that my personal distaste for JavaScript also made it easier to discount Electron. Before I go off on a rant, let me give you just one detail that I find symptomatic: Do you know how JavaScript sorts numbers? Alphabetically. ’nuff said. After considering a few technologies, I settled on Qt. It’s cross-platform, has great performance and supports custom styles. What’s more, you can use it from Python. This makes at least me orders of magnitude more productive than the default C++.
  • Inkscape Dark Theme on KDE Plasma
    On KDE Plasma, it's very easy to setup Inkscape Dark Theme. To do so, go to System Settings > Application Style > GNOME/GTK+ Style > under GTK+ Style: switch all themes to Dark ones and give check mark to Prefer Dark Theme > Apply. Now your Inkscape should turned into dark mode. To revert back, just revert the theme selections. This trick works on Kubuntu or any other GNU/Linux system as long as it uses Plasma as its desktop environment.
  • Atelier at Maker Faire and QtCon 2018!
    On the weekend of November 3 and 4, it happened on Rio de Janeiro the first Maker Faire of Latin America. And I was able to do a talk about Atelier and the current status of our project. The event hold more than 1.500 people on the first day, that saw a lot of talks and the exposition of makers of all over the country that came to Rio to participate in this edition of the Maker Faire.

Security: Updates, Systematic Evaluation of Transient Execution Attacks and Defenses, New IoT Security Regulations and GPU Side-Channel Attacks

  • Security updates for Thursday
  • A Systematic Evaluation of Transient Execution Attacks and Defenses

    [...] we present a sound and extensible systematization of transient execution attacks. Our systematization uncovers 7 (new) transient execution attacks that have been overlooked and not been investigated so far. This includes 2 new Meltdown variants: Meltdown-PK on Intel, and Meltdown-BR on Intel and AMD. It also includes 5 new Spectre mistraining strategies. We evaluate all 7 attacks in proof-of-concept implementations on 3 major processor vendors (Intel, AMD, ARM). Our systematization does not only yield a complete picture of the attack surface, but also allows a systematic evaluation of defenses. Through this systematic evaluation, we discover that we can still mount transient execution attacks that are supposed to be mitigated by rolled out patches.

  • New IoT Security Regulations
    Due to ever-evolving technological advances, manufacturers are connecting consumer goods­ -- from toys to light bulbs to major appliances­ -- to the Internet at breakneck speeds. This is the Internet of Things, and it's a security nightmare. The Internet of Things fuses products with communications technology to make daily life more effortless. Think Amazon's Alexa, which not only answers questions and plays music but allows you to control your home's lights and thermostat. Or the current generation of implanted pacemakers, which can both receive commands and send information to doctors over the Internet. But like nearly all innovation, there are risks involved. And for products born out of the Internet of Things, this means the risk of having personal information stolen or devices being overtaken and controlled remotely. For devices that affect the world in a direct physical manner -- ­cars, pacemakers, thermostats­ -- the risks include loss of life and property.
  • University Researchers Publish Paper On GPU Side-Channel Attacks
    University researchers out of University of California Riverside have published a paper this week detailing vulnerabilities in current GPU architectures making them vulnerable to side-channel attacks akin to Spectre and Meltdown. With their focus on NVIDIA GPUs, UCLA Riverside researchers demonstrated attacks both for graphics and compute by exploiting the GPU's performance counters. Demonstrated attacks included a browser-based attack, extracting passwords / keystroke logging, and even the possibility of exposing a CUDA neural network algorithm.

VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 2

  • Announcement: VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 2 released
    Please do NOT use this VirtualBox Beta release on production machines! A VirtualBox Beta release should be considered a bleeding-edge release meant for early evaluation and testing purposes. You can download the binaries here: Please do NOT open bug reports at our public bugtracker but use our VirtualBox Beta Feedback forum at to report any problems with the Beta. Please concentrate on reporting regressions since VirtualBox 5.2! Version 6.0 will be a new major release. Please see the forum at for an incomplete list of changes. Thanks for your help! Michael
  • VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 2 Adds File Manager For Host/Guest File Copies, OS/2 Shared Folder
    Last month Oracle rolled out the public beta of VirtualBox 6.0 though didn't include many user-facing changes. They have now rolled out a second beta that does add in a few more features. VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 2 was released today and to its user-interface is a new file manager that allows the user to control the guest file-system with copying file objects between the host and guest. Also improved with VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 2 is better shared folder auto-mounting with the VBox Guest Additions. This beta even brings initial shared folder support to the guest additions for OS/2.

Thunderbird version 60.3.1 now Available, Includes Fixes for Cookie Removal and Encoding Issues

Thunderbird happens to be one of the most famous Email client. It is free and an open source one which was developed by the Mozilla Foundation back in 2003, fifteen years ago. From a very basic interface, it has come a long way to be what it is today in 2018. With these updates, a recent one into the 60.x series from the 52.x series was a significant one. While the 60.x (60.3.0) update started rolling out, Mozilla was keen to push out 60.3.1. This new version of Thunderbird had a few bugs and kinks here and there which needed to be addressed which Mozilla did, most of them at least. Read more