Linux 3.10 brings accelerated video playback and new SSD caching

Linux 3.10 brings accelerated video playback and new SSD caching

Summary: The release of the latest Linux kernel paves the way for accelerated video playback on modern ATI Radeon cards, as well as additional support for SSD caching to augment performance of slower storage.

TOPICS: Linux, Open Source

The latest version of the Linux kernel is available to download — offering better support for Radeon graphics cards and new Solid State Drive (SSD) caching features.

The 3.10 release, made available by Linus Torvalds on Sunday, features a wide variety of changes and improvements, including:

Accelerated video performance

The new kernel introduces support for the Universal Video Decoder on the ATI Radeon 4000 series and later graphics cards. The addition paves the way for these cards to accelerate playback of video using various codecs, including H.264 and VC-1.

Support for the integrated graphics core in AMD's recent Richland processor family — the A4, A6, A8 and A10 series APUs — has also been introduced, as has the ability to address the Radeon 8800 series, the firm's next generation GPU family.

Systems with Intel-based integrated graphics also see some improvements, such as the ability to wake faster from standby and to overclock certain Intel GPUs.

New SSD caching

The release also introduces the ability to use the BCache SSD caching framework. The framework allows a slower-spinning drive to use an SSD as a cache, letting data be read and written more rapidly.

BCache can read and write data to the SSD cache, postponing writing data back to the slower drive until the system is under less demand.

It follows the addition of "dm-cache" to the Linux 3.9 kernel, which introduced the ability to use an SSD as a cache.

Streamlined file systems

The performance of the B-tree file system (Btrfs) should be improved for certain operations, following 30-35 percent reduction in the size of the extent metadata.

An experimental feature added to XFS, the high performance journaling file system, should allow checksums to be used to verify the integrity of the filesystem structure.

UEFI tweaks and other Linux 3.10 changes

Other changes in Linux 3.10 include tweaks to the Samsung UEFI anti-bricking fix, support for better CPU power management via cpufreq on ARM's big.LITTLE chip architecture, new drivers for hardware including Apple's IrDA receiver and Roccat's latest Kone Pure and IskuFX devices, and support for faster HTTP response times courtesy of the addition of support for the Tail Loss Probe feature in TCP.

Topics: Linux, Open Source


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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  • Linux 3.10

    Kudos Linus and all the Kernel Developers

    Great Job.
    • Also kudos to AMD.

      The AMD developers are writing the Radeon drivers themselves.
  • Awesome!!!

    This is great now that AMD drivers are included!!!! Icant wait to get on this
    • AMD has been developing their drivers since 2007

      So it's not that AMD drivers are "new" per se. Although support for the latest AMD hardware is obviously a Good Thing.
  • Tail Loss Probe is pretty exciting

    Good on Google for working the tail loss probe (and early release, before that) TCP changes, and contributing them. TLP alone offers something like 6 - 10% faster web session disconnects for busy web servers. Sounds mundane, but that stuff matters.
  • Caching Makes More Sense In The OS Than The Drive

    It always seemed dumb to me to put caches inside disk drives, where they're still constrained by the bandwidth of the device interface. It's much better to let the OS provide the caching, in whatever way the user chooses (e.g. trading off speed versus volatility). Also it makes it easier for the software to provide integrity guarantees, without being second-guessed by drive firmware that says it has done a write to nonvolatile storage when it hasn't.