The Linux kernel, the core component of the Linux operating system, has reached version 6.5, which was announced by its creator Linus Torvalds on August 27, 2023. The new release comes with several new features and improvements, such as initial support for Wi-Fi 7 and USB4, performance enhancements for AMD and Intel processors, better support for gaming controllers, and more.
Wi-Fi 7 and USB4 Support
One of the highlights of Linux Kernel 6.5 is the initial support for Wi-Fi 7 and USB4 v2, the latest standards for wireless networking and data transfer. Wi-Fi 7, also known as IEEE 802.11be, is expected to offer up to four times faster speeds than Wi-Fi 6E, reaching up to 40 Gbps. USB4 v2, also known as USB4 Gen3x2, is designed to deliver up to 40 Gbps of data transfer speed as well. Both standards are still under development, but Linux Kernel 6.5 provides some basic support for them.
Performance Enhancements for AMD and Intel Processors
Another major feature of Linux Kernel 6.5 is the performance enhancements for AMD and Intel processors. For AMD processors, the kernel now defaults to using the P-State “Active” mode, which is a new driver that replaces the CPUFreq subsystem and provides better power management and efficiency. For Intel processors, the kernel now supports Indirect Branch Tracking (IBT), which is a security feature that prevents speculative execution attacks like Spectre and Meltdown. The kernel also supports Intel TPMI, which is a new interface for managing power management features on Intel platforms.
Better Support for Gaming Controllers
Linux Kernel 6.5 also brings better support for gaming controllers, especially for Microsoft Xbox controllers. The kernel now supports rumble feedback for more Xbox controllers, including the Xbox One Elite Series 2 controller and the Xbox Series X/S controller. The kernel also fixes some sound issues for the ASUS ROG Ally gaming headset.
Other Changes and Improvements
- Support for writing kernel modules in Rust, a programming language that offers memory safety and concurrency features.
- Support for LoongArch, a new instruction set architecture developed by Loongson Technology in China.
- Support for Big TCP, a new congestion control algorithm that can handle large bandwidth-delay product networks.
- Support for more secure encrypted virtualization with AMD SEV-SNP and Intel TDX.
- Support for Armv9 Scalable Matrix Extension, a new feature that enables matrix arithmetic operations on Arm processors.
- Support for unaccepted memory, a new type of memory that can be used by applications without being mapped by the kernel.
- Support for MIDI 2.0 and USB4 v2, two new standards that enhance musical instrument digital interface and universal serial bus technologies.
- Support for NVIDIA SHIELD devices, such as the NVIDIA SHIELD TV and the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet.
- Further Wi-Fi 7 enablement, such as support for multi-link operation and enhanced multi-user multiple-input multiple-output (MU-MIMO).