Linux 5.18 is about to support Intel’s Software Defined Silicon (SDSi) mechanism for adding features to Xeon CPUs. 

In fact, last September Intel started to roll out Linux patches to enable its SDSi functionality in the OS. Several sets of patches have been released and it looks like they will be added to Linux 5.18.

Moreover, Hans de Goede, a Linux developer who works at Red Hat on a wide array of hardware enablement related projects, commented that SDSi will land in Linux 5.18 if no problems emerge, reports Phoronix.

Intel Software Defined Silicon (SDSi) is, in fact, a mechanism for activating additional silicon features in already produced and deployed server CPUs using the software. Formal support for the functionality is coming to Linux 5.18 and is set to be available this spring. However, Intel hasn’t disclosed what exactly it plans to enable using its pay-as-you-go CPU upgrade model, clarifies tom’sHardware in a recent article.

For instance, Intel’s Xeon Scalable CPUs added support for up to 4.5TB of memory per socket, Speed Select technology, network function virtualization, and large SGX enclave size. What is more, there are optimized models for search, virtual machine density, infrastructure as a service (IaaS), software as a service (SaaS), liquid cooling, media processing, and so on. Intel plans to add even more features specialized for particular use cases.

However, none of Intel’s customers need all of these supported features in the virtual world. That’s why Intel has to offer specialized models. From a silicon point of view, all of Intel’s Xeon Scalable CPUs are the same in terms of the number of cores and clocks/TDP, with various functionalities merely disabled to create different models.

Intel earns premium by offering workload optimized SKUs, but disabling certain features from certain models, marking them appropriately and shipping them separately from other SKUs costs a lot.

But what if Intel only offers base models of its Xeon Scalable CPUs and then allows customers to buy the extra features they need and enable them by using a software update? This is what SDSi enables Intel to do. Intel has yet to disclose all the peculiarities of SDSi and its exact plans about the mechanism, but at this point, we are pretty certain that the technology will show up soon.

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Nikoleta Yanakieva Editor at DevStyleR International
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