AMD Ryzen processors are getting a performance boost on Linux

A vending machine full of AMD Ryzen CPUs
(Image credit: Nullpo_x3100)
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Chip giant AMD (opens in new tab) has shared details about a new driver that promises to improve the performance of its Zen-based processors on Linux (opens in new tab).

According to reports, the new driver is the result of a joint collaboration between AMD and Valve (opens in new tab), with the two companies toiling to enhance performance and power efficiency reportedly in preparation for the launch of the Steam Deck (opens in new tab), Valve’s Zen 2-based take on portable gaming (opens in new tab).

Senior member of the technical staff at AMD, Rui (Ray) Huang had posted patches (opens in new tab) for the new driver to the Linux kernel earlier this month, and shared more details about the work at the X.Org Developers Conference (XDC2021). 

The drivers currently support processors powered by the Zen 3 microarchitecture, such as the Ryzen 5000 (opens in new tab) desktop processors, as well as the Epyc server processors (opens in new tab), and will soon be extended to cover the entire Zen range.

In with the new

Digesting Huang’s presentation, Tom’s Hardware notes the new CPU driver started development when Valve found problems with the current Linux ACPI CPUFreq driver, particularly with games that relied on its Proton (opens in new tab) compatibility layer.

It then contacted AMD, and the two rolled up their sleeves to rework the older ACPI driver to take full advantage of the dexterity of the latest Zen processors. The result is the new CPPC driver, which according to Huang is capable of targeting any power state depending on its current workload.

Huang’s presentation revealed that in preliminary tests with a Ryzen 7 5750G (opens in new tab), the developers found that the new driver boosted Zen 3's performance per watt by 10-25%.

To compare the performance of the new driver with the older regime, Huang ran Horizon Zero Dawn on a Ryzen 7 Pro 5750G, locked to 60FPS. While the older driver could only bring the idle cores down to 3.8Ghz, the new driver managed to tune them all the way down to just 400Mhz.

Via Tom’s Hardware (opens in new tab)

Mayank Sharma

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.