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Starting our next Open Source Project - TrueNAS SCALE

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Hardware

As many of you are aware, TrueNAS 12.0 BETA is soon to be released. It unifies FreeNAS and TrueNAS into a single image and will make maintaining and documenting these releases significantly more efficient. The early testing and reviews have gone very well and it’s exciting to see the upcoming OpenZFS 2.0 perform as well as it does. We’re confident that you’ll like TrueNAS CORE when you try it out.

With the bulk of the TrueNAS 12.0 development work starting to wind down, we wanted to take some time to confirm the rumors of some new work that has been occurring behind the scenes in the iX development labs. As some clever GitHub code-watchers have already noticed, we’ve been hard at work on a new project called TrueNAS SCALE. This is an ambitious new Open Source initiative allowing us to take some big new steps forward in software-defined infrastructure capabilities.

SCALE is an exciting new addition to the TrueNAS software family. It uses much of the same TrueNAS 12.0 source code, but adds a few different twists.

Read more

Also: iXsystems Announces TrueNAS SCALE As A Linux-Based Offering

Devices With GNU/Linux

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Hardware
  • Pinebook Pro, First Impressions

    After seeing it in action at FOSDEM (from afar, as the crowd was too large), I decided to buy a Pinebook Pro for personal use. From the beginning, the intention was to use it for pkgsrc development, with NetBSD as the main OS. It was finally delivered on Thursday, one day earlier than promised, so I thought I would write down my first impressions.

    If you have never heard of the Pinebook Pro: It is a cheap, open, hackable laptop with an ARM processor, the successor of the original Pinebook (which I thought was too low-end to be a useful daily driver) with generally more premium components.

  • Let’s make art at home this week
  • What’s the deal with edge computing?

    With over 41 billion IoT devices expected to be active by 2027 — that’s at least 5 devices for every person on the planet — edge computing has emerged as a tenable solution to prevent the impending snowballing of network traffic.

    Allow me to lift the veil on this buzzword and explain why it’s been gaining attention in tech circles lately.

    The concept

    IoT devices generate a lot of data. Smart home hubs constantly accrue information on voice commands, ambient noise, and auxiliary device output. Connected security cameras transfer several gigabytes of image data each day. And self-driving cars will, in all likelihood, be gathering hundreds of terabytes of data each year.

    The idea of edge computing is to process all this data at the location it is collected. Data that is only of ephemeral importance can (and should) be crunched on the device itself. This is in contrast to cloud computing, where data is sent to massive, far-away compute warehouses for processing.

  • 10th Gen Comet Lake computer has GTX GPU and 10 GbE ports

    Sintrones’ fanless, Linux-ready “ABOX-5210G” transport PC features an up to 10-core Comet Lake-S CPU, Nvidia graphics, 3x M.2, 2x mini-PCIe, 3x DP, 2x HDMI, 2x SATA, and 10x GbE ports with optional PoE.

    Sintrones has announced the second embedded PC we’ve seen with an Intel 10th Gen Comet Lake-S processor after Vecow’s recent ECX-2000 Series. The fanless ABOX-5210G uses slightly lower powered, but more power-efficient Core TE Comet Lake-S models than the Vecow system, including a 2.0GHz/4.5GHz Core i9-10900TE. There is also a 2GHz/4.6GHz Xeon W-1290TE, which similarly offers 10x dual-threaded cores, 20MB Intel Smart Cache, and a 35W TDP.

Development Boards and Open Hardware/Modding

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Hardware
  • Cucumber ESP32-S2 Development Board Comes with USB OTG Port, Optional Sensors

    Yesterday, I wrote about LilyGO TTGO ESP32-S2 WiFi IoT board, but one commenter mentioned it missed one of the key features of ESP32-S2 chip: a USB OTG port. While USB OTG is accessible through the header pins, it’s not the most convenient to use.

    I also quickly mentioned Cucumber ESP32-S2 development board in that post, but I did not expand too much since I thought it should only ship within Thailand. But the board does include two USB Type-C ports, one for the usual USB UART connector, and the other for USB OTG, and I found out the board is available worldwide.

  • TTGO ESP32-S2 WiFi IoT Board Comes with Optional MicroSD Card and Battery Support

    All ESP32-S2 boards I’ve seen so far were from Espressif Systems themselves including ESP32-S2-Saola-1 and ESP32-S2-Kaluga-1, but LilyGO TTGO ESP32-S2 is the first third-party board for sale so far.

    The tiny board is somewhat similar to ESP32-S2-Saola-1 board and comes in two versions with a similar form factor, but a completely different pinout and the presence of a MicroSD card socket and a battery connector on one of the boards.

    [...]

    The boards are a bit more different than I expected at first look. Please note that specifications should be seen as preliminary, as there were obvious mistakes such as Bluetooth support (not available for ESP32-S2) which I did not included in the specs above, but there may be others which I missed.

  • CR Deck Mk.1 Is An Open Source AR Headset Based On Project North Star With Ultraleap Hand-Tracking
  • Open Source Ventilators Helped by Electronic Design Software

    In the early days of the pandemic, the first major challenge facing nations was a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators. The former helps safeguard hospital personnel from potential contamination; the latter are necessary to keep the most critically ill patients breathing once the virus attacks their respiratory systems.

    Ventilators are traditionally large and very costly devices; smaller ventilators—known as field emergency ventilators (FEVs) have been used in emergency settings, including combat missions and in Third World nations for decades to help keep patients alive as they await transport to hospitals for intubation.

  • NASA JPL Team Fires up Open Source PPE Respirator Designs

    Does it really take a team of rocket scientists to rapidly engineer a top-notch line of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against COVID-19 spread? And then to open source its production designs for the benefit of anyone with access to a 3D printer?

    The answer: not necessarily, but it sure can help.

    That’s the latest good news on the pandemic front from the technology and innovation team at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

  • NASA and other innovators work to redesign ventilators for Covid-19 patients

    NASA scientists as well as other innovators are busy developing alternatives to the traditional ventilator being used worldwide to treat severe cases of Covid-19. The movement is in response to growing evidence that in some cases ventilators can cause more harm than good in some patients with low oxygen levels. Statistics tell the story: 80% of patients with the coronavirus die on such machines.

    This comes just a few months since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, when U.S. healthcare providers said that they needed ventilators to accommodate the flood of new patients, and lots of them. The crisis triggered the Trump administration to activate the Defense Production Act so manufacturers including Ford, GM and GE could start ventilator production to produce these medical devices for the U.S. government.

Linux on Devices and Open Hardware/Modding

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Hardware
  • Developing Qt5 applications natively on Wind River Linux

    Wind River Linux provides the technologies essential to building a flexible, stable, and secure platform for your embedded devices.

    Based on OpenEmbedded releases from the Yocto Project, it is designed to let you customize your platform to include only the packages and features you need. Powered by bitbake, it provides the ability to build an entire Linux distribution from source by following repeatable recipes. This is really powerful, but can be foreign to application developers that already have a workflow they are comfortable with.

    Developers building graphical user interfaces (GUI) have their own set of tools that they rely on. Often they prefer to use an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) tailored to the language and frameworks they are working with. Typically this IDE and the tools it uses are running natively on the same platform they are building for.

    Fortunately, these developers can still do this on Wind River Linux. This tutorial describes building Wind River Linux with the GCC toolchain and Qt Creator included to enable native application development.

  • Udoo Bolt Gear mini-PC launches with Ryzen V1000 Udoo Bolt SBC

    Seco has launched a $399 “Udoo Bolt Gear” mini-PC kit built around its Ryzen Embedded V1000 based Udoo Bolt SBC. The $399 kit includes a metal case, 65W adapter, and a WiFi/BT M.2 card.

    A growing number of open-spec, community-backed SBCs ship with optional. and in some cases, standard enclosures, but most of these are simple plastic cases. Seco’s new Udoo Bolt Gear mini-PC, which is based on its Udoo Bolt SBC, provides a metal case, a power adapter, US and EU cables, a VESA mount, and a WiFi/BT kit. There are also plenty of vents to help the SBC’s standard fan cool AMD’s Ryzen Embedded V1000 SoC.

    [...]

    The Bolt and the Bolt Gear are further equipped with an Arduino Leonardo compatible Microchip Atmega32U4 MCU. The MCU can be used for robotics and other real-time applications. It can also be configured to run while the system is turned off and then turn on the computer based on trigger input.

  • Ultra-narrow DipDuino Arduino Compatible Board is a Perfect Breadboard Companion

    We previously wrote about a uChip DIP-sized Arduino Zero compatible board with 0.3″ spacing between the two rows of pins making it perfect for breadboards as it left four rows on each side of the breadboard.

    There’s now another similar option with the appropriately named DipDuino board equipped with a Microchip Atmega328P MCU compatible with Arduino Pro or Pro Mini boards.

  • Using Photoresistor From Raspberry PI To Detect Light

    Photoresistor (also known as photocell) is a Light Dependent Resistor (LDR). As the name suggests, this components act just like a resistor, changing its resistance in response to how much light is falling on it. Ususally, photoresistors have a very high resistance in near darkness and a very low resistance in bright ligh.

    This component is used to manage electronic or electric devices to answer light conditions enabling or disabling functions.

    Photoresistors are analogic components. So it can be used with microcontrollers having analogic inputs (like Arduino) to read light level.

    Unfortunately, Raspberry PI has only digital inputs (with threshold between High and Low being around 1V). This means that, without specific analogic-to-digital hardware, we’ll be able only to read if light is high or low.

Devices/Embedded With Linux

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Hardware
  • Gemini Lake industrial mini-PCs are loaded with USB and COM ports

    GigaIPC latest QBiX Series industrial mini-PCs run Linux or Windows on Intel Gemini Lake and offer up to 8x USB and 5x COM ports plus dual displays, GbE, SATA III, M.2, and ruggedization features.

    Taiwanese computer vendor Gigabyte primarily produces consumer and enterprise desktop PC and server equipment, so we were surprised in 2017 when it launched an embedded 3.5-inch, Intel Apollo Lake GA-SBCAP3350 SBC. The following year in 2018, Gigabyte spun off GigaIPC as an embedded unit, and it has already generated a large catalog of Intel-based products including Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX, thin Mini-ITX, and 110 x 105mm “10×10” boards. There are 15 different 3.5-inch “QBi Pro” boards much like the GA-SBCAP3350, but also available with Whiskey Lake and Kaby Lake-U processors.

  • 19″ Rackmounts Support up to 12 Raspberry Pi SBCs

    Last time, we wrote about myelectronics.nl we covered their Tesla Cybertruck Case for Intel NUCs which housed the mini PC into a mini CyberTruck looking enclosure. The company has now come up with new housing solutions specifically designed for Raspberry Pi 1/2/3/4 Model B/B+ boards.

  • PoE-ready Ryzen V1000 SBC is all about camera control

    Axiomtek’s “MIRU130” SBC targets embedded vision applications with a Ryzen V1000 SoC, 4x USB 3.1 Gen2, HDMI and DP ports, cam triggers and lighting controls, 2x M.2, PCIe x16, and 4x GbE ports, 2x of which offer PoE.

    Axiomtek recently launched a CAPA13R, joineing Seco’s similarly 3.5-inch SBC-C90 as the only SBCs we have seen based on AMD’s Ryzen Embedded V100. Now Axiomtek has returned with a larger, V1000-based MIRU130 motherboard with a 244 x 170mm form factor that falls in between Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX.

  • IAR Systems Delivers Efficient Embedded Software Building on Linux

    Through the C/C++ compiler and debugger toolchain IAR Embedded Workbench®, IAR Systems provides its customers with the market's most diverse microcontroller support as well as adapted licensing options to fit different organizations' needs. This flexibility is now extended to the build environment as the well-known build tools in IAR Embedded Workbench now support Linux. The tools offer leading code quality, outstanding optimizations for size and speed, and fast build times. Supporting implementation in Linux-based frameworks for automated application build and test processes, the tools enable large-scale deployments of critical software building and testing and is suitable for installations ranging from a few licenses on a small build server, to massive installations with several hundreds of parallel builds active at the same time.

  • Librem 5 April 2020 Software Development Update

    This is another incarnation of the software development progress for the Librem 5. This time for April 2020 (weeks 14-18). Some items are covered in more detail in separate blog posts at https://puri.sm/news. The idea of this summaries is so you can have a closer look at the coding and design side of things. It also shows how much we’re standing on the shoulders of giants reusing existing software and how contributions are flowing back and forth. So these reports are usually rather link heavy pointing to individual merge requests on https://source.puri.sm/ or to the upstream side (like e.g. GNOME’s gitlab.)

GNU/Linux and Arduino in Devices/Embedded and Open Hardware

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Hardware
  • ODYSSEY expandable mini PC supports Win10, Linux and Arduino

    A versatile new mini PC is now available to order in the form of the ODYSSEY X86J4105864, offering an easy way to build Edge Computing applications with powerful CPU and rich communication interfaces, say its developers. The ODYSSEY X86J4105 mini PC is based on Intel Celeron J4105, is a Quad-Core 1.5GHz CPU that bursts up to 2.5GHz. There is also an onboard ATSAMD21 Core, an ARM Cortex-M0+ MCU that allows you to program Arduino on the x86 platform.

  • What is ESP32 and Why Is It Best for IoT Projects?

    ESP32 is a low-powered, low-cost microcontroller (MCU) board, with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in, and is based on a dual-core processor mechanism. The first one is a powerful processor, such as a Xtensa LX6 (~240 MHz) with 512 KiB memory and the second an ultra-low coprocessor (ULP) with only 8 KiB memory designed to run when ESP32 is in deep-sleep mode.

    Other components include around 48 I/O pins (variable); an array of peripheral interfaces including temperature, hall effect, and capacitive touch sensors; and an 8-centimeter LCD panel, prominently visible here in an ESP32-WROVER board by Espressif Systems.

    [...]

    In fact, it runs on FreeRTOS, a leading operating system supported by Arduino. A big advantage of ESP32 is that it is readily supported by Arduino IDE as a “shield” which can be accessed from Board Manager. One can easily use functions from the FreeRTOS libraries when coding for the ESP32 within the Arduino IDE.

    Considering the scale of ESP32 applications which could be tiny, coin cell devices, it is better to use a predictable memory OS such as FreeRTOS rather than have its own complete OS, which is supported by Raspberry Pi, for example.

  • Kiwi TCMS is partnering up with Pionir

    We are happy to announce that Kiwi TCMS is going to partner with Pionir on the development of open source hardware for testers! Pionir is a free school focused on creating a new generation of digital leaders, an exponential culture and solving challenges using technology. They are located in Kikinda, Serbia.

    [...]

    Pionir will be developing hardware black boxes for teaching exploratory testing in cooperation with Kiwi TCMS. We have dedicated €2000 from our bounty program for students of the free school towards completing this project.

    The goal of the project is to produce at least 3 boxes and reference designs that will serve as a didactic tool for teaching, but also be free and open hardware, and as such, available to everyone to build from source.

    This project will be trusted to the students of the free school who will get opportunity to take part in the challenging process of building a digital appliance, from designing the machine logic, to develop and prototype hardware.

    The project includes designing, assembling, programming, documenting and delivering this hardware to us! Everything is expected to be open source: list of components, assembly instructions, 3D design files, source code, documentation and instructions! Our goal is that this will be relatively cheap and easy to build so everyone else can build their own boxes. During the next several months there will be new repositories created under https://github.com/kiwitcms to host the various boxes.

Open Hardware Monitor 0.9.4

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Hardware
OSS

The Open Hardware Monitor is a free open source software that monitors temperature sensors, fan speeds, voltages, load and clock speeds of a computer.

The Open Hardware Monitor supports most hardware monitoring chips found on todays mainboards. The CPU temperature can be monitored by reading the core temperature sensors of Intel and AMD processors. The sensors of ATI and Nvidia video cards as well as SMART hard drive temperature can be displayed. The monitored values can be displayed in the main window, in a customizable desktop gadget, or in the system tray.

Read more

Hardware: Home Servers, Facial Recognition Systems and Nsight Graphics 2020.3

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Hardware
  • Has the home server gone the way of the Dodo?

    I used FreeNAS, which is a fork of FreeBSD, essentially a Unix-like operating system. It required me to hook up a monitor to the PC for setup, hence the need for the cheap video card.

    After that I disconnected the monitor, the server runs headless. Just enter a URL into the browser on another PC and you can access the dashboard and have control of everything.

    If I did this again, I’d save money by skipping the sound card. But now I want know if this is still worth it? My files are backed up in OneDrive and Google Drive. It’s nice to have a home-based copy and a cloud copy, though.

  • iWave Systems i.MX8M Mini Devkit Targets Low-cost Facial Recognition Systems

    The board supports Linux 4.14.98, and Android 9.0. NXP eIQ machine learning software is based on OpenCV and includes pre-optimized libraries and tools for computer vision applications. C++, Python, and Java API, and integration with MCUXpresso SDK and Yocto development environments aims to accelerate the development flow of the ML applications.

  • NVIDIA Announces Nsight Graphics 2020.3

    Nsight Graphics 2020.3 is now available for download. We’ve added a number of features that dramatically expands the functionality of our tools.

    Applications that use the provisional VK_KHR_ray_tracing extension can be captured, profiled and exported to a C++ Capture. While the extension is still evolving, the NVIDIA Vulkan Beta Driver will allow for experimentation before it is fully ratified (and is required).

  • NVIDIA Nsight Graphics 2020.3 Supports Profiling KHR Ray-Tracing

    NVIDIA on Friday released Nsight Graphics 2020.3 as the newest version of their proprietary tool for profiling and debugging Direct3D / Vulkan / OpenGL / OpenVR software.

    One of the big changes with Nsight Graphics 2020.3 is now supporting the VK_KHR_ray_tracing extension, the official Vulkan ray-tracing extension compared to the prior NVIDIA-specific vendor extension. Nsight Graphics can now capture and profile VK_KHR_ray_tracing using software and export it to a C++ capture.

Devices: Wind River Linux, Arduino Robot, 96Boards and Jetson With GNU/Linux

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Hardware
  • NVIDIA container runtime for Wind River Linux

    Training and using AI models are tasks that demand significant computational power. Current trends are pointing more to deep neural networks, which include thousands, if not millions of operations per iteration. In the past year, more and more researchers have sounded the alarm on the exploding costs of deep learning. The computing power needed to do AI is now rising seven times faster than ever before [1]. These new needs are making hardware companies create hardware accelerators like Neural processing units, CPUs, and GPUs.

    Embedded systems are not an exception to this transformation. We see every day intelligent traffic lights, autonomous vehicles, intelligent IoT devices, and more. The current direction is to have accelerators inside these embedded devices, Systems On-Chip mainly. Hardware developers have embedded small accelerators like GPUs, FPGAs, and more into SOCs, SOMs, and other systems. We call these modern systems: heterogeneous computing architectures.

    The use of GPUs on Linux is not something new; we have been able to do so for many years. However, it would be great to accelerate the development and deployment of HPC applications. Containers enable portability, stability, and many other characteristics when deploying an application. For this reason, companies are investing so much in these technologies. For instance, NVIDIA recently started a project that enables CUDA on Docker [2].

    One concern when dealing with containers is the loss of performance. However, when comparing the performance of the GPU with and without the containers environment, researchers found that no additional overhead is caused [3]. The consistency in the performance is one of the principal benefits of containers over virtual machines; accessing the GPU is done seamlessly as the kernel stays the constant.

  • Spherical Quadruped Arduino Robot

    [Greg06] started learning electronics the same way most of us did: buy a few kits, read a few tutorials, and try your hardest to put a few things together. Sound familiar? After a while, you noticed your skills started increasing, and your comfort level with different projects improved as well. Eventually, you try your hand at making your own custom projects and publishing your own tutorials.

  • 96Boards CE Extended SBC taps the quad -A7 Quectel SC20 4G module

    Shiratech’s “SRT-96B-MAIN-SC20-E/A” is a 96Boards CE Extended SBC that runs Android on a Quectel SC20 module equipped with a quad -A7 Snapdragon 210, 4G LTE, GNSS, and WiFi/BT. The SBC features a CSI cam, a MEMs mic, accelerometer, and photometric sensor.

    Last week we reported on Shiratech’s Linux-driven Stinger96 96Boards IoT Edition SBC with a dual Cortex-A8 STM32MP157 SoC and a Quectel BG96 LTE CAT-M1 radio for NB-IoT communications. We now see that Shiratech has posted specs for a SRT-96B-MAIN-SC20-E/A SBC, AKA the 96Board Main with SC-20. The board uses the 96Boards Consumer Edition Extended form factor and offers 4G LTE via a Quectel SC20 module that integrates a 1.1GHz, quad -A7 Snapdragon 210.

  • Advantech Edge AI Computer and PoE NVR Feature NVIDIA Jetson Xavier NX SoM

    Following the launch of NVIDIA Jetson Xavier NX SoM last year, we noted several third-party carrier boards and embedded PCs had been announced, and we expected more to come soon. Advantech has now unveiled two systems based on NVIDIA latest module with respectively MIC-710AIX edge AI computer and MIC-710IVX NVR system equipped with eight PoE ports.

Raspberry Pi: Argo Tunnels, HackSpace and Storage

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Hardware
  • Self Hosting with Raspberry Pi and Argo Tunnels

    On the whole, Argo Tunnels create an encrypted tunnel between your server and the Cloudflare network using the `cloudflared` daemon. Because of this, users won’t directly connect to your server, instead they will connect via proxy trough Cloudflare’s network. This brings a few benefits worth mentioning.

  • Design your own Internet of Things with HackSpace magazine
  • Turn your Raspberry Pi homelab into a network filesystem

    A shared filesystem is a great way to add versatility and functionality to a homelab. Having a centralized filesystem shared to the clients in the lab makes organizing data, doing backups, and sharing data considerably easier. This is especially useful for web applications load-balanced across multiple servers and for persistent volumes used by Kubernetes, as it allows pods to be spun up with persistent data on any number of nodes.

    [...]

    I am running Fedora Server on a Raspberry Pi, but this project can be done with other distributions as well. To run an NFS server on Fedora, you need the nfs-utils package, and luckily it is already installed (at least in Fedora 31). You also need the rpcbind package if you are planning to run NFSv3 services, but it is not strictly required for NFSv4.

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Android Leftovers

Recovering audio from a lost format with open source

Back in the early 2000s, we made a family decision to upgrade the living room stereo. The equipment in place at the time was based on a collection of gear that I had purchased some 20 years earlier when I first had a steady post-university income. That early collection could best be described as "industrial chic," most notably the Hafler amplifiers I had built from kits and the Polk speakers made from some kind of composite wood product and finished with an ugly faux-rosewood vinyl wrap. They produced decent sound, but the dorm-room-style decor just wasn't working out in the living room. Those of you who remember the early 2000s will recall that most of the world was still consuming music on CD. Our family was no exception, and we ended up with a fine CD player that had an interesting feature—it was able to decode regular CDs as well as high-definition-compatible digital (HDCD) discs. According to Wikipedia, HDCD is a proprietary audio encode-decode process that claims to provide increased dynamic range over that of standard Red Book audio CDs, while retaining backward compatibility with existing compact disc players. Read more

today's howtos

Linus Torvalds: "I Hope AVX512 Dies A Painful Death"

Linux creator Linus Torvalds had some choice words today on Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (AVX-512) found on select Intel processors. In a mailing list discussion stemming from the Phoronix article this week on the compiler instructions Intel is enabling for Alder Lake (and Sapphire Rapids), Linus Torvalds chimed in. The Alder Lake instructions being flipped on in GCC right now make no mention of AVX-512 but only AVX2 and others, likely due to Intel pursuing the subset supported by both the small and large cores in this new hybrid design being pursued. Read more Also: The Linux Team Approves New Neutral Terminology background on AVX-512