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Linux 5.17 is available. The kernel strengthens support for RISC-V, AMD and Intel CPUs.

5.17 was delayed at the last minute due to the discovery of Spectre vulnerabilities in Intel and AMD processors. Lead developer Linus Torvalds pushed the deadline back by a week. The past few days were used to smooth out Spectre vulnerabilities, drivers and tooling. Now, Linux 5.17 is available.

RISC-V, AMD and Intel

Firstly, the kernel introduces four-level page tables for RISC-V chips. As a result, RISC-V supports up to 64TB of physical memory and 128TB in a virtual address space. As a result, RISC-V chips are more suitable for (extremely) demanding workloads.

Secondly, the kernel makes it possible to configure the frequency of AMD CPUs on a per-core basis. The new driver supports AMD Zen 2 and any architecture after AMD Zen 2, including AMD EPYC server processors.

Finally, the kernel allows the acceleration of 12th Gen Intel Alder Lake mobile CPUs. Though Intel hasn’t released the CPU’s yet, the kernel is prepped for their arrival.

Other drivers

In addition to the above, the release includes dozens of additions and tweaks. One of the new drivers (platform firmware runtime update) allows you to update firmware parts without rebooting a system. Another driver (x86 Android Tablet) enables older devices to run modern kernel versions.

5.17 to 5.18

The development of Linux 5.18 has begun. Linus Torvalds started processing contributions for the first-next release. The lead developer expects 5.18 to contain more updates than 5.17.