Linux Kernel 3.10 Adds New Drivers, SSD Caching Framework, Networking Improvements, and More

Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2013 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: linux, linux kernel, kernel 3.10, linus, bcache, TLP, btrfs, XFS, UVD

Earlier this week, Linus Torvalds officially released an updated Linux kernel with version 3.10. The new kernel bakes in a number of tweaks and new features, including a new SSD caching framework, new drivers and hardware support, networking improvements, and experimental file system tweaks.

Kernel 3.10 features quite a few improvements to storage. The big new feature is bcache, or Black Layer Cache, which is a framework that allows an SSD to acts as a read and write cache for a slower mechanical hard drive. The SSD will cache frequently accessed data to improve read times as well as act as a write cache that will write data bound for the hard drive to the SSD temporarily until a low usage point when the data will finally be written out to the mechanical hard drive.

Additionally, the kernel developers have made tweaks to the btrfs and XFS file systems. For example, XFS can create and store checksums of metadata to reduce errors and verify data integrity. Performance when using btrfs has also been slightly improved.

Driver and hardware support added to kernel 3.10 includes support for the UVD hardware found in AMD Radeon graphics cards from the 4000 series and beyond, and allows for hardware accelerated video decoding. The kernel also supports the GPU in Richland APUs and the acceleration hardware in NVIDIA's Tegra 2 and 3 SoCs. For Intel systems that use HD processor graphics, PCs will be able to wake from standby faster using the 3.10 kernel. There is also support for ARM's big.LITTLE processors, the IR receiver that Apple uses in its Mac computers, and other new and improved drivers with the latest kernel. 

On the networking side of things, kernel 3.10 implements the Tail Loss Probe algorithm which makes improvements to the TCP networking stack and how it deals with lost packets. The new kernel networking stack tweaks reportedly result in up to a 15% reduction in packet retransmission timeouts and 6% shorter HTTP response times.

Aside from these larger changes, kernel 3.10 has a great deal of under-the-hood fixes. For all the nitty-gritty geeky details, the H-Online has put together a detailed breakdown of all the tweaks and new features baked into the latest 3.10 Linux kernel.

For a comparison / breakdown of what the previous 3.9 kernel brought to the table, see this post.

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