Linux 5.15 update brings plenty of improvements for AMD hardware and the Steam Deck

Linux Penguin on the screen of a Steam Deck with Geralt from the Witcher 3.
(Image credit: Future)

Linux 5.15 is out, and the new kernel is bringing a host of brand new updates for existing AMD CPUs and GPUs, even some that aren't out yet. While not the largest update, Ryzen and Radeon users will appreciate what it has to offer, and it could be especially interesting for AMD Van Gogh-powered devices like the future Valve Steam Deck.

Some of the most important CPU updates that the folks at Phoronix were able to pull out for Linux 5.15 include:

  • Temperature monitoring support is finally available for Zen 3 APUs and upcoming Yellow Carp APUs, which are currently assumed to be Ryzen 6000 series mobile chips, but we'll have to wait and see. They appear to be RDNA 2-powered devices, at least. 
  • The AMD Van Gogh APU audio driver for the AMD ACP 5.x audio co-processor has been merged for improved audio capabilities. That's the very same APU found inside the Valve Steam Deck. The update reduces code among the sound drivers along with memory allocations being refactored and other "intensive" improvements for the audio drivers, according to this pull list.
  • AMD CPUs are now seeing optimized C3 entry when entering a power sleep state which means the kernel no longer needs to flush the caches before entering C3.  
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On the graphics card front, support for over 17 new RDNA PCI IDs has been added to hint at an RDNA 2 refresh. Potentially even hint of brand new Radeon cards because there are more IDs than the current number of Radeon GPUs available today.

There is also a bunch of AMD EPYC server-side updates and even more for AMD GPUs, with the most essential being new power management, HDMI FreeSync, PCI Express link handling support. 

Creator of Linux, Linus Torvalds, talks a little about the size of the Linux 5.15 right here, noting that it's the smallest update of the 5.x series though it doesn't mean it was the smoothest release. 

"And while this is not up there with some larger releases, it's been one of the messier merge windows. Part of it was self-inflicted damage from me trying to enable -Werror much more aggressively, but I also ended up having to push back a lot more on some of the patch series and had a number o full requests where I went, "ok, I've pulled this, but XYZ is wrong," Torvalds says.

Keep in mind that this info is for Linux 5.15-rc-1 and that the stable kernel release of Linux 5.15 is expected to release in two months.  

Jorge Jimenez
Hardware writer, Human Pop-Tart

Jorge is a hardware writer from the enchanted lands of New Jersey. When he's not filling the office with the smell of Pop-Tarts, he's reviewing all sorts of gaming hardware, from laptops with the latest mobile GPUs to gaming chairs with built-in back massagers. He's been covering games and tech for over ten years and has written for Dualshockers, WCCFtech, Tom's Guide, and a bunch of other places on the world wide web.