2017 Year in Review

8 mins read

The Linaro mission is to

Lead collaboration in the Arm ecosystem

Our engineering team now totals 334 staff, with 128 engineering employees, supplemented by 96 member assignees, and 110 member engineers (provided by members in addition to their contractual requirements, but not all full time). The continuing support from members, providing member engineers to voluntarily provide additional resources into Linaro projects of interest, is a strong indicator of the high levels of member engagement. This is a summary of some of the key engineering achievements in 2017.

Core Engineering

Linaro core engineering consists of the Kernel, Power Management, Toolchain and Security Working Groups, and the virtualization, LSK, Systems, Automation and CI and 96Boards teams. Highlights from core engineering during 2017 include:

Kernel - The Budget Fair Queueing (BFQ) Storage-I/O Scheduler was accepted into Linux kernel 4.12 (July 2017). The work was done under contract with Paolo Valente and University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy. The LSK was maintained for 3.16, 4.1 and 4.4 and released for 4.9. Power Management - the Linaro and Arm power teams worked together to support DynamIQ development. Other activities were continued development and improvements on Scheduler (EAS infrastructure), Dynamic Power Management, DVFS infrastructure and Thermal Management infrastructure.

Security - In July the generic TEE framework including the OP-TEE driver was accepted into Linux kernel 4.12 marking a major milestone and the results of several years of work. Quarterly OP-TEE releases have continued to add further functionality.

Virtualization - the team delivered into QEMU Cortex-M Support for both Zephyr and mbed, ongoing SVE development, multi-threaded TCG and full Armv8-A emulation with EL2 and GICv3 support. In addition Xen ACPI guest support and PCIe and MSI-X passthrough on KVM were delivered upstream.

Toolchain - the team continued GNU releases, including GCC 7, GDB and GLIB, through the year, and continued work on LLVM. The OpenOCD AArch64 port was upstreamed.

LAVA - LAVAv2 API support for KernelCI.org and support for LKFT (Google/LMG) was delivered alongside monthly LAVA releases. LAVA continues to see adoption in both member and community projects.

Linaro Segment Groups

LEG - The goal of the Linaro Enterprise Reference Platform is to provide a fully tested, end to end, documented, open source datacenter reference for Arm-based enterprise servers. During 2017, at member request, the ERP has moved from a six-month release cadence to four months. The latest version of the ERP, 17.12, was released on December 13th. The Enterprise Reference Platform (ERP) won the Arm TechCon 2017 Innovation Award for the Best Contribution to an Open-Source Software Project. OpenStack now builds on Arm with no additional patches required thanks to the recent progress and contribution from Linaro to Project Kolla. The Linaro Developer Cloud is now fully operational and deployed on three instances in Austin (TX), Cambridge (UK) and Shanghai (China), with private member instances in the USA and Asia in advanced planning.

After several years of hard work and solid collaboration with the maintainers, LEG firmware and kernel engineers completed all work around ACPI enablement on Arm with all patches accepted upstream in kernel v4.14. They have also worked closely with Socionext to bring up the Developer Box, based on the Socionext SynQuacer multi-core CPU and server. It was publicly unveiled at SFO17 and it demonstrated a complete desktop GUI with Youtube UHD video streaming in a browser.

The HPC SIG was officially launched at Linaro Connect BUD17 and since then the engineering team has geared up with assignees and defined their early roadmap.

Just prior to SFO17, LEG members volunteered to resume work on the Xen hypervisor for the Arm datacenter and contributed with an additional five resources to set up a dedicated team. Last but not least, RIKEN AICS and Linaro held an Arm HPC Engineering Workshop in Tokyo on 12-13th Dec 2017 - a summary blog about that events is in the works.

LNG - The team froze the Opendataplane.org ODP Tiger Moth API in October. During the year, the focus has been on extending the ODP API definition and implementation work towards the deployment phase into products. This includes: 1) cloud applications for traffic generation and termination like web servers in conjunction with OFP, 2) network infrastructure devices in conjunction with FD.io VPP, and 3) smart NIC devices for the x86-based datacenter.

At SFO17 Nokia and Cavium demonstrated accelerated IPsec processing using ODP and OFP between a simulated 5G Core and a 5G Radio Access Network (RAN). NXP and Cisco demonstrated vCPE Service Chaining with VFIO Direct Device Assignment using prototype ODP support for the Vector Packet Processor (VPP) component of FD.io. LNG has also set up a team around TSN sponsored by TI, Cisco and NXP, and the early measurements at system level have highlighted the need to work not only on the networking side but also to widen the scope to time sensitive applications and user space IO optimizations.

LHG - LHG has built on top of the media DRM project from the previous year and focused on updating the Microsoft Playready and Google Widevine Trusted Applications to the respective latest releases, integrating them in the Linux OpenSDK and upgrading support for Wayland/DRM/KMS. Recently TI shared GStreamer plug-ins for the hw codec accelerators, which allows the group to unblock the efforts around Secure Video/Data path with OP-TEE. The Qualcomm Landing Team also shared V4L2 drivers for video acceleration, which enables testing a V4L2-based unified media framework for FFMPEG, GStreamer and Chromium.

Leveraging on the EDK2 port and maintainership efforts from LEG, LHG has achieved a reference UEFI build with the Comcast RDK and Yocto/OE, and has started looking into secure key storage for secure boot with signed kernel images. On the Android TV side, the team has leveraged on LMG AOSP builds to produce a reference AOSP TV for the Hikey 96Boards and focused on developing a TV Input framework for USB DTT receiver dongles.

LMG - In 2017 Google discussed with Linaro about collaborating with Greg KH to extend LTS support to 4+ years, as an enabler for the wider Android Project Treble initiative at Google (for more information, please see Iliyan Malchev’s SFO17 presentation). LMG has accordingly reshaped its priorities to focus on driving the collaboration with all SoC vendors around LKFT (Linux Kernel Functional Testing), the extended LTS support, and the Android Common kernel testing in collaboration with Linaro CT&T team.

The impact has resulted in reduced bandwidth for the broad AOSP optimizations beyond the successful boot time improvement project, which achieved >25% speed up on average on Android N. These patches were accepted into the AOSP upstream by Google.

The change of resource allocation has impacted the LCR builds as well, which are no longer packaged, tested and released monthly, but now only upon major Android releases. In parallel, AOSP is used as part of the functional testing in LKFT and we maintain a CI loop with AOSP smoke tests on a daily basis.

LITE - On the microcontroller side, the LITE engineering team marked several significant achievements in collaboration with the Zephyr Project team: a new low footprint IP stack with concurrent IPv4/6 support, official broad adoption of device tree support to accelerate the support of as many MCU variants as possible, and work on MCU task isolation and security. Kumar Gala, LITE Technical lead, is now the Linaro representative in the Zephyr TSC and is the Arm maintainer, and Andy Gross is the Zephyr Security Committee Chair.

On the gateway side, the strategy has evolved and identified the EdgeX Foundry industry initiative as the optimal approach in terms of alignment to our technical vision as well as participation of potential new members like Dell, GE and others. Discussions on EdgeX and Linaro member collaboration are ongoing. On the engineering side, the team succeeded in building an EdgeX Foundry micro service on a NXP Hummingboard connected to a Dell EdgeX gateway.


2017 was a very productive year. Along with the many individuals actively engaged in a variety of open source communities and projects, Linaro engineering continued to participate in the necessary “heavy lifting” on critical foundational technology leveraged across a range of market segments. Although Linaro engineering is primarily focused on the Arm Architecture an increasing percentage of the engineering output in 2017 has been for the common benefit. Expect this trend to continue in 2018.

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