Linux 3.10 brings accelerated video playback and new SSD caching

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.

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.