Linux 3.13 was released on Sun, 19 Jan 2014.

Summary: This release includes nftables, the successor of iptables, a revamp of the block layer designed for high-performance SSDs, a power capping framework to cap power consumption in Intel RAPL devices, improved squashfs performance, AMD Radeon power management enabled by default and automatic Radeon GPU switching, improved NUMA performance, improved performance with hugepage workloads, TCP Fast Open enabled by default, support for NFC payments, support for the High-availability Seamless Redundancy protocol, new drivers and many other small improvements.

1. Prominent features

1.1. A scalable block layer for high performance SSD storage

Traditional hard disks have defined for decades the design that operating systems use to communicate applications with the storage device drivers. With the advent of modern solid-state disks (SSD), past assumptions are no longer valid. Linux had a single coarse lock design for protecting the IO request queue, which can achieve an IO submission rate of around 800.000 IOs per second, regardless of how many cores are used to submit IOs. This was more than enough for traditional magnetic hard disks, whose IO submission rate in random accesses is in the hundreds, but it has become not enough for the most advanced SSD disks, which can achieve a rate close to 1 million, and are improving fast with every new generation. It is also unfit for the modern multicore world.

This release includes a new design for the Linux block layer, based on two levels of queues: one level of per-CPU queues for submitting IO, which then funnel down into a second level of hardware submission queues. The mapping between submission queues and hardware queues might be 1:1 or N:M, depending on hardware support and configuration. Experiments shown that this design can achieve many millions of IOs per second, leveraging the new capabilities of NVM-Express or high-end PCI-E devices and multicore CPUs, while still providing the common interface and convenience features of the block layer. Note: in this release, only the virtioblk driver has been ported to this interface, other drivers will be ported in next releases.

Paper: Linux Block IO: Introducing Multi-queue SSD Access on Multi-core Systems

Recommended LWN article: The multiqueue block layer

Code: commit

1.2. nftables, the successor of iptables

iptables has a number of limitations both at the functional and code design level, problems with the system update rules and code duplication, which cause problems for code maintenance and for users. nftables is a new packet filtering framework that solves these problems, while providing backwards compatibility for current iptable users.

The core of the nftables design is a simple pseudo-virtual machine inspired in BPF. A userspace utility interprets the rule-set provided by the user, it compiles it to pseudo-bytecode and then it transfers it to the kernel. This approach can replace thousands of lines of code, since the bytecode instruction set can express the packet selectors for all existing protocols. Because the userspace utility parses the protocols to bytecode, it is no longer necessary a specific extension in kernel-space for each match, which means that users are likely not need to upgrade the kernel to obtain new matches and features, userspace upgrades will provide them. There is also a new library for utilities that need to interact with the firewall. In this release, nftables is already usable in most cases but a complete support (read: nftables at a better level than iptables) should be available in future releases.

nftables provides backwards iptables compatibility. There are new iptables/iptables utilities that translate iptables rules to nftables bytecode, and it is also possible to use and add new xtable modules. As a bonus, these new utilities provide features that weren't possible with the old iptables design: notification for changes in tables/chains, better incremental rule update support, and the ability to enable/disable the chains per table.

The new nft utility has a improved syntax. nftables documentation is available in the nftables wiki page; a small, quick and incomplete how-to is available here.

Recommended LWN article: The return of nftables

Video talk about nftables: (slides)

Project page and utility source code:

Code: commit, commit

1.3. Radeon: power management enabled by default, automatic GPU switching, R9 290X Hawaii support

Power management enabled by default

Linux 3.11 added power management support for many AMD Radeon devices. The power management support provides improved power consumption, which is critical for battery powered devices, but it is also a requirement to provide good high-end performance, as it provides the ability to reclock to GPU to higher power states in GPUs and APUs that default to slower clock speeds.

This support had to be enabled with a module parameter. This release enables power management by default for lots of AMD Radeon hardware: BTC asics, SI asics, SUMO/PALM APUs, evergreen asics, r7xx asics, hawaii. Code: commit, commit, commit, commit, commit, commit

Automatic GPU switching

Linux 3.12 added infrastructure support for automatic GPU switching in laptops with dual GPUs. This release adds support for this feature in AMD Radeon hardware. Code: commit

R9 290X Hawaii

This release adds support for R9 290X "Hawaii" devices. Code: commit

1.4. Power capping framework

This release includes a framework that allow to set power consumption limits to devices that support it. It has been designed around the Intel RAPL (Running Average Power Limit) mechanism available in the latest Intel processors (Sandy Bridge and later, many devices will also be added RAPL support in the future). This framework provides a consistent interface between the kernel and user space that allows power capping drivers to expose their settings to user space in a uniform way. You can see the Documentation here

Code: (commit 1, 2, 3, 4)

1.5. Support for the Intel Many Integrated Core Architecture

This release adds support for the Intel Many Integrated Core Architecture or MIC, a multiprocessor computer architecture incorporating earlier work on the Larrabee many core architecture, the Teraflops Research Chip multicore chip research project, and the Intel Single-chip Cloud Computer multicore microprocessor. The currently world's fastest supercomputer, the Tianhe-2 at the National Supercomputing Center in Guangzhou, China, utilizes this architecture to achieve 33.86 PetaFLOPS.

The MIC family of PCIe form factor coprocessor devices run a 64-bit Linux OS. The driver manages card OS state and enables communication between host and card. More information about the Intel MIC family as well as the Linux OS and tools for MIC to use with this driver are available here. This release currently supports Intel MIC X100 devices, and includes a sample user space daemon.

Code: commit 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

1.6. Improved performance in NUMA systems

Modern multiprocessors (for example, x86) usually have non-uniform memory access (NUMA) memory designs. In these systems, the performance of a process can be different depending on whether the memory range it accesses it's attached to the local CPU or other CPU. Since performance is different depending on the locality of the memory accesses, it's important that the operating system schedules a process to run in the same CPU whose memory controller is connected to the memory it will access.

The way Linux handles these situations was deficient; Linux 3.8 included a new NUMA foundation that would allow to build smarter NUMA policies in future releases. This release includes many of such policies that attempt to put a process near its memory, and can handle cases such as shared pages between processes or transparent huge pages. New sysctls have been added to enable/disable and tune the NUMA scheduling (see documentation here)

Recommended LWN article: NUMA scheduling progress

1.7. Improved page table access scalability in hugepage workloads

The Linux kernels tracks information about each memory page in a data structure called page table. In workloads that use hugepages, the lock used to protect some parts of the table has become a lock contention. This release uses finer grained locking for these parts, improving the page table access scalability in threaded hugepage workloads. For more details, see the recommended LWN article.

Recommended LWN article: Split PMD locks

Code: commit, commit

1.8. Squashfs performance improved

Squashfs, the read-only filesystem used by most live distributions, installers, and some embedded Linux distributions, has got important improvements that dramatically increase performance in workloads with multiple parallel reads. One of them is the direct decompression of data into the Linux page cache, which avoids a copy of the data and eliminates the single lock used to protect the intermediate buffer. The other one is multithreaded decompression.

Code: (commit 1, 2, 3)

1.9. Applications can cap the rate computed by network transport layer

This release adds a new socket option, SO_MAX_PACING_RATE, which offers applications the ability to cap the rate computed by transport layer. It has been designed as a bufferbloat mechanism to avoid buffers getting filled up with packets, but it can also be used to limit the transmission rate in applications. To be effectively paced, a network flow must use FQ packet scheduler. Note that a packet scheduler takes into account the headers for its computations. For more details, see the:

Recommended LWN article: TSO sizing and the FQ scheduler (5th and 6th paragraph)

Code: commit

1.10. TCP Fast Open enabled by default

TCP Fast Open is an optimization to the process of stablishing a TCP connection that allows the elimination of one round time trip from certain kinds of TCP conversation, which can improve the load speed of web pages. In Linux 3.6 and Linux 3.7, support was added for this feature, which requires userspace support. This release enables TCP Fast Open by default.

Code: commit

1.11. NFC payments support

This release implements support for the Secure Element. A netlink API is available to enable, disable and discover NFC attached (embedded or UICC ones) secure elements. With some userspace help, this allows to support NFC payments, used to implement financial transactions. Only the pn544 driver currently supports this API.

Code: commit

1.12. Support for the High-availability Seamless Redundancy protocol

High-availability Seamless Redundancy (HSR) is a redundancy protocol for Ethernet. It provides instant failover redundancy for such networks. It requires a special network topology where all nodes are connected in a ring (each node having two physical network interfaces). It is suited for applications that demand high availability and very short reaction time.

Code: commit

2. Drivers and architectures

All the driver and architecture-specific changes can be found in the Linux_3.13-DriversArch page

3. Core

4. Memory management

5. Block layer

6. File systems

7. Networking

8. Crypto

9. Virtualization

10. Security

11. Tracing/perf

12. Other news sites that track the changes of this release

KernelNewbies: Linux_3.13 (last edited 2017-12-30 01:30:13 by localhost)