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Graphics/Benchmarks

The Spectre/Meltdown Performance Impact On Linux 4.20, Decimating Benchmarks With New STIBP Overhead

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Graphics/Benchmarks

As outlined yesterday, significant slowdowns with the Linux 4.20 kernel turned out to be due to the addition of the kernel-side bits for STIBP (Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors) for cross-HyperThread Spectre Variant Two mitigation. This has incurred significant performance penalties with the STIBP support in its current state with Linux 4.20 Git and is enabled by default at least for Intel systems with up-to-date microcode. Here are some follow-up benchmarks looking at the performance hit with the Linux 4.20 development kernel as well as the overall Spectre and Meltdown mitigation impact on this latest version of the Linux kernel.

Some users have said AMD also needs STIBP, but at least with Linux 4.20 Git and the AMD systems I have tested with their up-to-date BIOS/microcode, that hasn't appeared to be the case. Most of the AMD STIBP references date back to January when Spectre/Meltdown first came to light. We'll see in the week ahead if there is any comment from AMD but at this time seems to be affecting up-to-date Intel systems with the Linux 4.20 kernel.

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Graphics: Open-Source AMD Linux Driver Stack, Mesa 18.3.0 RC, ROCm 1.9.2 and Firefox on Wayland

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Graphics/Benchmarks
  • The Open-Source AMD Linux Driver Stack Hitting Problems With The Radeon RX 590

    While the Radeon RX 590 that launched this week is just yet another Polaris refresh, it turns out the open-source AMD Linux graphics driver stack isn't yet playing well with retail RX 590 graphics cards. This is quite a surprise considering the PCI ID was picked up months ago and the mature Polaris Linux driver support for quite a while now, but could be like the rough Raven Ridge Linux experience where the production cards with the shipping vBIOS isn't what the developers encountered during their pre-production driver enablement.

    [...]

    Long story short, it looks like at least one initialization issue is blocking the Radeon RX 590 Linux support. Hopefully the workaround ends up being trivial enough that it can be quickly back-ported to existing stable Linux kernel series. Once the Radeon RX 590 is running well on Linux, I'll be through with a ton of benchmarks that I have already been working on this week with other graphics cards using the newest Linux driver stacks. This situation is sadly reminiscent of the Raven Ridge launch earlier this year where the open-source driver team was working on support for months in advance, but the production hardware/BIOS ended up varying a lot from their hardware bring-up that is was very shaky support at launch. The Raven Ridge support improved a lot on Linux since launch, but even to this day some hardware still seems to be problematic both of hardware in my labs as well as reports by users. Hopefully it won't take nearly as long for the RX 590 support to be in shape.

  • mesa 18.3.0-rc3

    The third release candidate for Mesa 18.3.0 is now available.

  • Mesa 18.3-RC3 Released With RADV Fixes, Drops Zen L3 Thread Pinning

    Mesa release manager Emil Velikov has announced the latest weekly release candidate of the upcoming Mesa 18.3.

    Mesa 18.3 has a number of Meson build system updates, several RADV driver corrections, a few NIR updates, fixes video API support for Raven 2 APUs, and back-ports the change to drop the AMD Zen L3 thread pinning functionality.

  • Radeon ROCm 1.9.2 Released - Brings SDMA/RDMA Support For Vega 20, HIP/HCC Improvements

    While we know ROCm 2.0 is coming out before year's end and that will have many improvements like complete OpenCL 2.0 support, ROCm 1.9.2 is out today as the latest stable release for this Radeon Open Compute stack.

    ROCm 1.9.2 brings some notable changes for just being a point release ahead of the big ROCm 2.0 milestone. Vega 20 remains one of the big areas for AMD's driver/software developers for what will begin shipping next year as the Radeon Instinct MI50 / MI60 accelerators.

  • Mozilla Now Ships Firefox Nightly Builds With Wayland Enabled

    After what feels like an eternity in waiting years for Mozilla to ship their Firefox web-browser with native Wayland support enabled, their latest Firefox Nightly builds have achieved this milestone.

    There have been Wayland patches for Firefox going back years but the Wayland support hasn't been enabled in the official Firefox binaries up until now. Starting yesterday, the Mozilla.org Firefox Nightly packages have Wayland support built-in and when launching Firefox if GDK_BACKEND=wayland is set, should now work with native Wayland rather than XWayland.

More Benchmarks Of The Performance Pullback In Linux 4.20

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Graphics/Benchmarks
Linux

Last night I published some benchmarks after finding Linux 4.20 is regressing in several workloads compared to Linux 4.18/4.19 and at least was affecting Intel Core i9 "HEDT" boxes. Here are more affected workloads regressing on Linux 4.20 and it's not just limited to high-end hardware.

This morning I decided to check in on my automated bi-daily kernel benchmarks on LinuxBenchmarking.com. It's all automated and thus don't necessarily have the time to look at the data too often (even though PTS' LinuxBenchmarking.com does also provide email notifications when auto-detecting possible regressions), but in looking back at the archived data it too captured a significant performance pullback on multiple systems on Linux 4.20.

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Bisected: The Unfortunate Reason Linux 4.20 Is Running Slower

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Graphics/Benchmarks

After running a lot of tests and then bisecting the Linux 4.20 kernel merge window, the reason for the significant slowdowns in the Linux 4.20 kernel for many real-world workloads is now known...

This latest Linux 4.20 testing endeavor started out with seeing the Intel Core i9 performance pulling back in many synthetic and real-world tests. This ranged from Rodinia scientific OpenMP tests taking 30% longer to Java-based DaCapo tests taking up to ~50% more time to complete to code compilation tests taking measurably longer to lower PostgreSQL database server performance to longer Blender3D rendering times. That happened with a Core i9 7960X and Core i9 7980XE test systems while the AMD Threadripper 2990WX performance was unaffected by the Linux 4.20 upgrade.

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Graphics: RADV Vulkan Driver, NVIDIA 410.78 Linux Driver, Mesa 18.2.5, Firefox Nightly on Wayland and AMD Radeon RX 590 Launches

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Graphics/Benchmarks
  • RADV Vulkan Driver To Enable Vega Primitive Binning By Default - Helps Performance

    The RadeonSI OpenGL driver offered Vega primitive binning support the past year followed by the RADV Vulkan driver, but it hadn't been enabled by default. Those working on the RADV driver are now planning on unconditionally enabling this Vega performance optimization for up to a few percent performance boost.

    It seems the primitive binning driver support for RADV is mature enough that it can be flipped on by default and at least doesn't appear to be hurting any prominent Vulkan-powered Linux games. Samuel Pitoiset of Valve's Linux driver team sent out the patch today for flipping it on by default. On that patch message he describes this Vega feature as helping out some games by a few percent, "After doing a bunch of benchmarks, primitive binning helps some games like The Talos Principle (+5%) or Serious Sam 2017 (+3%). For other titles, either it doesn't change anything or it hurts very few (less than 1%)."

  • NVIDIA 410.78 Linux Driver Fixes Vulkan Corruption, Adds Quadro RTX 4000 Support

    For those using the NVIDIA long-lived 410 Linux driver series over the in-beta 415.xx driver series, the 410.78 driver release is out today as the newest stable binary driver build.

    The NVIDIA 410.78 rolls out with official support for the Quadro RTX 4000 graphics card and a handful of bug fixes. The bug fixes include addressing a possible X Server hang when using legacy VGA mode, mode-setting failure with SDI output, and Vulkan rendering corruption.

  • [Mesa-dev] [ANNOUNCE] mesa 18.2.5

    A patch for nine state tracker that fixes several crashes using nine's thread_submit feature. There are other patches to other state trackers.

    A couple of patches for Meson build system, as well as for autotools.

    In the drivers side, there are a couple of fixes for RADV, one regarding subgroups and another regarding conditional rendering. There are also fixes for virgl, r600, and i965.

  • Mesa 18.2.5 Brings Fixes For Direct3D 9 State Tracker, RADV Vulkan Driver

    For those sticking to the Mesa stable release train, Mesa 18.2.5 is now available ahead of the Mesa 18.3 quarterly feature release due out in the weeks ahead.

    As is the case for Mesa point releases, Mesa 18.2.5 is geared to deliver the latest bug/regression fixes. this 18.2.5 release has around three dozen changes, including fixes for the Gallium "Nine" D3D9 state tracker when using its thread-submit functionality, Meson build system updates, RADV Vulkan driver fixes, and also some basic fixes/tweaks to the common NIR, Mesa, and Intel code. There is no particular standout prominent fixes unless you were personally affected by one of the bugs.

  • Firefox Nightly now with experimental Wayland support

    As of last nightly (20181115100051), Firefox now supports Wayland on Linux, thanks to the work from Martin Stransky and Jan Horak, mostly.

    Before that, it was possible to build your own Firefox with Wayland support (and Fedora does it), but now the downloads from mozilla.org come with Wayland support out of the box for the first time.

    However, being experimental and all, the Wayland support is not enabled by default, meaning by default, you’ll still be using XWayland. To enable wayland support, first set the GDK_BACKEND environment variable to wayland.

  • AMD Radeon RX 590 Launches, Linux Support Presumably Okay

    While it comes as no surprise given all the leaks in recent weeks, today AMD officially announced the Radeon RX 590 graphics card as another update to Polaris.

    The new Polaris PCI ID addition we spotted back in September indeed turned out to be for a new high-end Polaris refresh. The Radeon RX 590 is this new high-end Polaris graphics card that is manufactured on a 12nm FinFET process.

Linux 4.20 Showing Some Performance Slowdowns

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Graphics/Benchmarks
Linux

Being well past the Linux 4.20 merge window I have moved onto benchmarking more of this development version of the Linux kernel. Unfortunately, there are some clear performance regressions.

This week I got to firing off some Linux 4.20 kernel benchmarks... I started with the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX and Intel Core i9 7980XE for being the interesting HEDT CPUs in my possession at the moment. On the 7980XE I spotted several performance regressions with this Linux 4.20 development kernel compared to Linux 4.19 and 4.18, so then I fired up the completely separate Intel Core i9 7960X box to carry out the same tests. Sure enough, with that different hardware, there is further confirmation of slowdowns with Linux 4.20.

The common trait of these systems was Ubuntu 18.10 x86_64 and using the Linux 4.18.18, 4.19.1, and 4.20 Git kernel packages provided by the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel PPA. With the differing hardware the intention is not to compare the performance between the systems but in looking at the direction of the Linux kernel performance.

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Benchmarking Packet.com's Bare Metal Intel Xeon / AMD EPYC Cloud

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Graphics/Benchmarks

With the tests earlier this week of the 16-way AMD EPYC cloud comparison the real standout of those tests across Amazon EC2, Packet, and SkySilk was Packet's bare metal cloud. For just $1.00 USD per hour it's possible to have bare metal access to an AMD EPYC 7401P 24-core / 48-thread server that offers incredible value compared to the other public cloud options for on-demand pricing. That led me to running some more benchmarks of Packet.com's other bare metal cloud options to see how the Intel Xeon and AMD EPYC options compare.

Packet's on-demand server options for their "bare metal cloud" offerings range from an Intel Atom C2550 quad-core server with 8GB of RAM at just 7 cents per hour up to a dual Xeon Gold 6120 server with 28 cores at two dollars per hour with 384GB of RAM and 3.2TB of NVMe storage. There are also higher-end instances including NVIDIA GPUs but those are on a dynamic spot pricing basis.

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The Newest Mesa NIR/SPIR-V Code For Handling OpenCL Kernels

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Graphics/Benchmarks

It's now been nearly one year since longtime Nouveau contributor Karol Herbst joined Red Hat where one of his big projects has been working on OpenCL support for this open-source NVIDIA driver by bringing up NIR/SPIR-V support and making the necessary improvements for allowing OpenCL kernels to be represented in that IR commonly used by the Mesa drivers. The work still isn't yet in Mesa Git, but Karol this week sent out his newest patches.

Karol Herbst sent out 22 patches this week in regards to adding support for OpenCL kernels within Mesa's NIR and SPIR-V common code. The patches are mostly adding the necessary OpenCL bits to the common NIR/SPIR-V compiler code for handling the intricacies of OpenCL kernels with features like physical pointer support, cl_size/cl_alignment, and other bits.

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Trying DragonFlyBSD & FreeBSD On The Intel Core i9 9900K With ASUS PRIME Z390-A

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Graphics/Benchmarks

Since last month's Intel Core i9 9900K launch for this eight core / sixteen thread processor we have explored its performance for Linux gaming, how the performance and power efficiency go from the Intel 990X to 9900K, the Spectre mitigation costs, and the Intel Coffeelake Refresh performance across various Linux distributions. For those curious about using the new Intel CPUs and Z390 motherboards with one of the BSD operating systems, I spent a few days over the weekend trying out FreeBSD and DragonFlyBSD releases with the i9-9900K and ASUS PRIME Z390-A motherboard combination.

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Graphics: Screen Tearing, Wayland Alpha Compositing Protocol, AMDGPU

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Graphics/Benchmarks
  • What Is Screen Tearing and How to Get Rid of It on Linux

    Unfortunately for Linux fans, screen tearing is, and has been, a persistent annoyance that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. There are a couple of factors enabling the longevity of the screen tearing issue.

    First, and probably most obviously, is the dated, broken, and bloated X server. Even with the progress of Wayland, X is here to stay for the immediate future. Next is the strange and inconsistent graphics driver picture. One of the biggest offenders in causing screen tearing is also the most popular GPU manufacturer on Linux, NVIDIA. Throw in different desktop environments with their own display settings and compositors, and you have a real mess.

    These methods will hopefully eliminate screen tearing in most situations, but it’s impossible to provide a one-size-fits-all solution, thanks to the amount of variables involved. Try what applies to your system, and keep in mind that there might be new factors involved.

  • Collabora Revives Work On Alpha Compositing Protocol For Wayland

    Collabora's Scott Anderson has revived work on the alpha compositing protocol for Wayland, which is based upon the work done by Google on this functionality for Chromium on Wayland.

    The Wayland Alpha Compositing Protocol is intended to control the alpha compositing and blending of surface contents within a Wayland environment. This experimental protocol allows for advanced blending and alpha operations on Wayland surfaces (wl_surface) and Google's work on it dates back at least two years.

  • Radeon Linux Driver Preparing Adaptive Backlight Management (ABM)

    The "AMDGPU" Radeon Linux kernel graphics driver is preparing support for "Adaptive Backlight Management" as a backlight power-savings feature for laptops.

    Adaptive Backlight Management reduces the backlight level in an effort to save power but increases the pixel contrast and luminance to improve image quality and readability under the lower light condition.

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Security Leftovers

Ubuntu Mir's EGMDE Desktop Getting Experimental XWayland

Ubuntu's little known EGMDE example Mir desktop that is mostly a proving grounds for Mir development is now receiving support for XWayland for being able to run X11 applications within this example environment. Lead Mir developer Alan Griffiths posted about initial XWayland support for EGMDE but that it is "highly experimental, and can crash the desktop." This support is available via the "edge" EGMDE Snap. Read more

Devices: Coreboot, Toradex and Digi, Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+

  • Another Micro-ATX Haswell Era Motherboard Working With Coreboot But Needs Tiny Blob
    There are many Sandy Bridge era motherboards that have been freed by Coreboot while if you are looking for more options on something (slightly) newer, a micro-ATX Haswell-era motherboard from ASRock now works under this open-source BIOS implementation. The ASRock H81M-HDS is the latest motherboard port now mainline in Coreboot. The ASRock H81M-HDS supports Haswell Core and Xeon CPUs, supports two DDR3/DDR3L DIMMs, one PCI Express x16 slot, onboard display outputs, four SATA ports, and multiple USB3/USB2 ports. This motherboard can be found refurbished still from some Internet shops for about $70 USD.
  • Toradex and Digi launch i.MX8X-based Colibri and ConnectCore COMs
    Toradex and Digi have released Linux-friendly i.MX8X-based modules via early access programs. The Colibri iMX8X and Digi ConnectCore 8X each provide WiFi-ac and Bluetooth 4.2. NXP’s i.MX8X SoC has made quite a splash this week. Eight months after Phytec announced an i.MX8X-based phyCORE-i.MX 8X module, Variscite unveiled a VAR-SOM-MX8X module and then Congatec followed up with the Qseven form-factor Conga-QMX8X and SMARC 2.0 Conga-SMX8X. Now Toradex and Digi are beginning shipments of i.MX8X based modules for early access customers.
  • New Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ launched for only $25

Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome: Net Neutrality Stance, Mozilla, a VR Work, Firefox Monitor and 5 Best Chrome Extensions For Productivity

  • Mozilla Fights On For Net Neutrality
    Mozilla took the next step today in the fight to defend the web and consumers from the FCC’s attack on an open internet. Together with other petitioners, Mozilla filed our reply brief in our case challenging the FCC’s elimination of critical net neutrality protections that require internet providers to treat all online traffic equally. The fight for net neutrality, while not a new one, is an important one. We filed this case because we believe that the internet works best when people control for themselves what they see and do online. The FCC’s removal of net neutrality rules is not only bad for consumers, it is also unlawful. The protections in place were the product of years of deliberation and careful fact-finding that proved the need to protect consumers, who often have little or no choice of internet provider. The FCC is simply not permitted to arbitrarily change its mind about those protections based on little or no evidence. It is also not permitted to ignore its duty to promote competition and protect the public interest. And yet, the FCC’s dismantling of the net neutrality rules unlawfully removes long standing rules that have ensured the internet provides a voice for everyone. Meanwhile, the FCC’s defenses of its actions and the supporting arguments of large cable and telco company ISPs, who have come to the FCC’s aid, are misguided at best. They mischaracterize the internet’s technical structure as well as the FCC’s mandate to advance internet access, and they ignore clear evidence that there is little competition among ISPs. They repeatedly contradict themselves and have even introduced new justifications not outlined in the FCC’s original decision to repeal net neutrality protections.
  • Virtual meeting rooms don’t have to be boring. We challenge you to design better ones!
    Mozilla’s mission is to make the Internet a global public resource, open and accessible to all, including innovators, content creators, and builders on the web. VR is changing the very future of web interaction, so advancing it is crucial to Mozilla’s mission. That was the initial idea behind Hubs by Mozilla, a VR interaction platform launched in April 2018 that lets you meet and talk to your friends, colleagues, partners, and customers in a shared 360-environment using just a browser, on any device from head-mounted displays like HTC Vive to 2D devices like laptops and mobile phones. Since then, the Mozilla VR team has kept integrating new and exciting features to the Hubs experience: the ability bring videos, images, documents, and even 3D models into Hubs by simply pasting a link. In early October, two more useful features were added: drawing and photo uploads.
  • New Raspbian Update, Qt Creator 4.8 Beta2 Released, Firefox Monitor Now Available in More Than 26 Languages, Chrome OS Linux Soon Will Have Access to Downloads Folder and Canonical Extends Ubuntu 18.04 Long-Term Support
    Firefox Monitor, the free services that tells you whether your email has been part of a security breach, is now available in more than 26 languages: "Albanian, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English (Canadian), French, Frisian, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish (Argentina, Mexico, and Spain), Swedish, Turkish, Ukranian and Welsh." Along with this, Mozilla also announced that it has added "a notification to our Firefox Quantum browser that alerts desktop users when they visit a site that has had a recently reported data breach". See the Mozilla blog for details.
  • 5 Best Chrome Extensions For Productivity That You Should Use In 2019
    Google is the most popular browser around and supports a vast number of extensions as well. Since there are a lot of Chrome addons available in the Chrome Web Store, picking the best Google Chrome extension can be quite a task. Also, it is quite easy to get distracted on the web and lose track of time. Thankfully, several good extensions for productivity are available that can help you focus on your tasks, save time by prioritizing them and skillfully manage your to-do list. So here is a list of excellent Google Chrome extensions for productivity for the year 2019 that will assist you in your work in.