What’s new in SUSE Linux for Arm 15 Service Pack 2

15SP2ArmSUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 15 Service Pack 2 delivers support for new 64bit Arm processors and enhancements to previous Arm support. SUSE uses a “Refresh” and “Consolidation” approach to Service Pack releases: Every “Even” release (e.g., SP0, SP2,…) is a “Refresh” release that will include the latest stable Linux kernel. For SLES 15 SP2, we are using the 5.3 Linux kernel as the base with backports from later kernels as needed.

SUSE’s uses an “upstream first” approach to hardware enablement. That means that SUSE will not use “out of tree” or proprietary Board Support Packages is to enable new hardware, SUSE will only use drivers that has been enabled in upstream Linux. SUSE does work with the community to get new hardware support accepted upstream, but our “upstream first” approach reduces the risk of regression in a later Linux release.

Not all device drivers for new hardware is available upstream at the time SUSE ships a new release. In those cases, SUSE does as much enablement as possible in the current Service Pack, and implements additional drivers in later releases.

New Arm Systems on a chip (SoC) support in SP2*:

  • Ampere Altra
  • AWS Graviton2
  • Broadcom BCM2711 (for RPI 4)
  • Fujitsu A64FX
  • NXP LS1028A (no graphics driver available yet)

*Note: Please check with your specific hardware vendor regarding SUSE support for your specific server. Due to the rapidly evolution of Arm systems, not all Arm based servers have undergone the same degree of hardware testing.

New Arm servers enabled in SP2:

  • Raspberry Pi 4 (no accelerated graphics)
  • Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3B+
  • Raspberry Pi 3A+
  • NVIDIA TegraX1, NVIDIA TegraX2
  • Fujitsu FX700 (SUSE “YES” certified)

Other Arm enhancements

  • Support for up to 480 vCPU
  • Add rpi_cpufreq for Raspberry Pi to dynamically change frequency resulting in lower energy use and heat generation when idle
  • Add Arm V8.2 48-bit IPA for increased memory addressability
  • Enable Armv8.5 Speculation Barrier (SB) instruction to enhance security
  • Enable ARMv8.1-VHE: Virtualization Host Extensions for KVM optimization
  • Remove support for pre-production Marvell ThunderX2 processors
  • USB enabled for ipmitool to simplify flashing firmware on 64bit Arm systems such as HPE Apollo 70
  • Enable ARMv8.4 Unaligned atomic instructions and Single-copy atomicity of loads/stores
  • Improved U-Boot bootloader to support Btrfs filesystem offering additional flexibility for partitioning, scripting and recovery. (Tech-Preview)
  • Improved Installer experience on Raspberry Pi by ensuring all firmware, boot loader, and device tree packages are installed when using DVD media
  • QuickStart for Raspberry Pi updated

Last thoughts

There are a number of other encouraging events in the news about Arm servers:

These announcements underscore that Arm processor-based servers are finally starting to reaching critical mass for data center workloads. SUSE is proud to be part of the Arm server revolution.

Learn more about SLES 15 SP2:


About Jay Kruemcke

Jay Kruemcke is passionate about helping customers and partners achieve their goals. Jay is the Linux product line manager at Wind River Systems, responsible for embedded Linux operating system products including Wind River Linux and Wind River Linux Distro. Prior to Wind River, Jay was responsible for the SUSE Linux for High-Performance Computing, SUSE Linux for Arm, and SUSE Linux for Power servers. Jay released the first commercially supported Linux distribution for Arm in 2016. Jay has built an extensive career in product management based on being a bridge between customers and engineering teams. He has extensive experience in many areas including product positioning, driving future product directions, using social media for client collaboration, and evangelizing the capabilities and future directions of enterprise products. Jay had a long career at IBM including many roles in the Power and Cloud Engineering and Offering teams including being the product management owner for the AIX Unix operating system. In addition to his product management experience, Jay has held a variety of technology roles at including product marketing, manager of a technical architecture team, briefing center staff, SAP systems management consultant, and as a system programmer and administrator Jay also volunteers with the Boy Scouts in multiple roles and with ProductCamp Austin. The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of my employer. Follow me on twitter @smollinux and @phastflyer
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