New Linux kernel strengthens SMP support

Linus Torvalds has released the latest version of the Linux kernel, version 2.6.37

The latest release of the Linux operating system kernel offers a number of improvements that should speed up operations in SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) systems.

Among the improvements are an adjustment to the way the kernel supports the ext4 and XFS file systems, making them more suitable for SMP duties. The software also includes a number of routing and device-handling optimizations that SMP system managers should welcome.

Kernel keeper Linus Torvalds announced the release of this latest version, 2.6.37, on the Linux Kernel mailing list on Tuesday. The release comes a little more than two months after version 2.6.36, which was issued in late October. Approximately 1,140,000 lines of code were added into this version, according to Linux Weekly News.

In regard to the ext4 file system, the file system will no longer use a buffer layer to communicate. "The buffer layer has a lot of performance and SMP scalability issues that will get solved with this port," the kernel's changelog noted. In one set of benchmarks, using a 48-core system connected to a 24-unit SAS storage array, the new ext4 implementation was able to speed 192 simultaneous FFSB (Flexible File System Benchmark) threads by 300 per cent while reducing the load on the CPUs by a factor of three or four.

Through a number of enhancements, the kernel's support for the XFS file system has been streamlined as well. The changelog notes that in a test of an 8-way SMP machine, using the fs_mark benchmark with 50 million files, performance was improved by 15 per cent. It now deletes files in half the time that it previously required.

The new kernel also removes at least one outdated SMP technology, the Big Kernel Lock (BKL). Introduced in version 2.0 of the kernel, the lock was put in place to enhance SMP scalability. As a way to control concurrent operations, the lock prevented more than one thread from running in the kernel space at one time. For large systems, however, BKL can slow performance. Developers have subsequently pioneered more fine-grained locking techniques that eliminate the need to run BKL.

All these improvements should help speed Linux performance on SMP systems. SMP systems tie together multiple processors under a single shared memory and are run by a single operating system. Although traditionally used for running large-scale ERP (enterprise resource planning) and other enterprise software packages, the SMP architecture is also evident in today's dual-core and quad-core processor-based servers and desktops.

Among the many other new features in the kernel are the ability to throttle input and output, improved power management, and upgrades to the CPU scheduler. This is also the first version of the kernel that can act as a native host for Xen-based virtual machines, though more work needs to be done to develop drivers for client-side access.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags unixopen sourceLinuxIBMsoftwareRed Hatoperating systemsnon-WindowsOracle

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?