Intel’s “Software Defined Silicon” Linux support is progressing

Although Intel has not publicly announced its plans for software-defined silicon (SDSi), Linux kernel patches enabling licensed processor features continue to move toward mainstream integration.

In September, we were the first to draw attention to the patches released at the time for this Software Defined Silicon which enable additional licensed hardware features. Patches have continued as Intel has been mum on what kind of features they plan to have in hardware with future processors but keep them to be licensed/purchased separately from the capabilities that need to be enabled by this “intel_sdsi” driver relying on cryptographically signed certificates. Presumably SDSi will be used with future Intel server processors given their timely Linux support, but it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Since the original September patches, Intel has refined SDSi Linux support code that brings back memories of Intel’s upgrade service from a decade ago for software-enabled features on select Core processors.


It has not yet been announced what kind of features Intel is planning for SDSi, whether it’s some AVX/AMX capabilities, other instruction set extensions that may be niche but valuable to some users, or even lifting cache/frequency restrictions as seen with the original Intel upgrade. utility software.

Last night, a new set of fixes were released. Some of the readiness changes for intel_sdsi support have already been merged for the 5.17 Linux cycle, so actual SDSi activation is now down to just three patches. These patches add the new Intel Software Defined Silicon platform driver as well as the sample provisioning tool and self-tests for the sysfs interface exposed by the driver to userspace.

These latest patches now being reviewed as part of the review process can be found on the kernel mailing list. We’ll see if the Intel SDSi work is completed in time for the v5.18 kernel cycle at the end of March.