Linux kernel 4.17 is great for embedded designs

Posted by: Thom Denholm

Last weekend, Linux kernel 4.17 was released, disappointing a few pundits who thought it should be kernel 5.0. Here are some of the exciting features in this release, and confirmation of something Datalight has always said.

Merciless Moray

Initial support for newer power efficiency features is probably one of the most exciting directions for embedded designs. Another serious improvement for embedded is significant power-savings for idle systems on some hardware, around 10% on affected systems. A lot of dead architecture was removed - half a million lines of code! - which is great news for anyone with concerns over untested code in the kernel. There were also some great enhancements for AMDGPU, AMDKFD and Intel Cannonlake - but graphics support is probably more for the gamers than embedded.

Probably the biggest inclusion is a removal - UBIFS will now outright refuse to work with MLC NAND flash. Richard Weinberger makes it plain in this quote from the patch, now included in Linux kernel 4.17. "While UBI and UBIFS seem to work at first sight with MLC NAND, you will most likely lose all your data upon a power-cut or due to read/write disturb." [1] This very much confirms our assertion that MLC NAND flash is not easy, even if it is inexpensive. Datalight continues to update support for MLC NAND, and plans an updated release of FlashFX Tera at the end of June.

Download a comparison of UBIFS and Datalight's Flash File System

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