SUSE 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
There are a number of other encouraging events in the news about Arm servers:
- NVIDIA CUDA support for Arm based systems
- Ampere Computing Altra Processor revealed
- Apple announces MacBook move to Arm processors
- Japan’s Arm-based Fugaku Supercomputer becomes the #1 HPC system
- Marvell talks up ThunderX2 and Arm Server Roadmap
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.