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The rolling-release openSUSE Tumbleweed recently began rolling out optional x86-64-v3 optimized packages for those on roughly Intel Haswell or newer systems and wanting to squeeze out maximum performance from their hardware. The selection of x86-64-v3 packages built by openSUSE Tumbleweed is currently rather limited, but hopefully this major Linux distribution joining the HWCAPS party will lead other Linux distributions to follow suit.
When the patterns-glibc-hwcaps-x86_64_v3 package is installed on supported systems, packages with an “x86-64-v3” postfix will automatically be installed where available. The x86-64-v3 packages are making use of Glibc’s HWCAPS functionality.
At the moment though the range of x86-64-v3 packages is quite limited with having just optimized builds of the JPEG-XL library, libpng library, libxml2, and then Python 3.11.
Python 3.11 optimized x86-64-v3 build is arguably the most interesting of what openSUSE Tumbleweed is currently shipping for this HWCAPS implementation. But now that this openSUSE Tumblewed infrastructure is setup around x86-64-v3 HWCAPS, hopefully the area begins to flourish with more optimized packages for performance-sensitive software…
Since this is making use of the HWCAPS functionality, I hope that in due course openSUSE will also consider x86-64-v4 packages for select packages on capable hardware. With x86-64-v4 comes AVX-512 and that can be especially beneficial for some HPC and scientific software among other cases we’ve shown over time like even much faster JSON parsing. Now with AMD Zen 4 having AVX-512 across their entire product stack, it’s even more interesting and hopefully will lead to possible x86-64-v4 HWCAPS packages in the not too distant future. The downside comes down to additional QA, packaging time spent deciding what is worthwhile for optimizing, and then the obvious increased package archive mirroring storage requirements.
Kudos to openSUSE/SUSE for beginning this x86-64-v3 HWCAPS expedition and hopefully it will quickly see more optimized packages become available for delivering a better, more performant out-of-the-box experience on this Linux distribution. Ideally having this major Linux distribution now making use of Glibc HWCAPS will encourage more Linux distributions to pursue a similar approach for maximizing x86_64 performance of their shipped packages.