Canonical Releases Ubuntu Images Optimized for Elkhart Lake and Tiger Lake IoT Features


Canonical has released images of Ubuntu Desktop 20.04 and Ubuntu Core 20 that are optimized with the latest kernel fixes for IoT functionality found on 11th Gen Intel Elkhart Lake and Tiger Lake Core processors such as TCC and TSN.

Intel-based devices running Ubuntu are a big part of the Internet of Things market, but not all of the IoT features found on Intel’s latest processors are built into the Linux kernel. To save embedded developers the trouble of patching and optimizing Ubuntu, Canonical has released a pair of Ubuntu images designed for Intel’s 10nm Elkhart Lake platforms (Atom x6000, Pentium, Celeron N / J) and more powerful 11th generation Tiger Lake platforms. Optimized images are now available for download for the more integration-oriented Ubuntu Desktop 20.04 and Ubuntu Core 20.

In other news, Canonical recently announcement Ubuntu Server 21.10 now runs on the new Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W. Support for Ubuntu Desktop 20.04 and Ubuntu Core 20 will arrive later this month. In addition, Canonical yesterday announced support for Microsoft SQL Server with Ubuntu Pro on Microsoft Azure.

The images will be updated to “incorporate the latest software features,” says Canonical. It is not known if support for Tiger Lake extends to the new desktop-class Tiger Lake-H processors, up to octa-core, which include much of the technology from the mobile-focused Tiger Lake-U. / IoT, but some lacks the IoT and industrial features.

The enhanced features of the new Ubuntu images for Intel IoT include real-time performance, manageability, security and functional safety, “as well as allowing users to take advantage of their improved CPU and graphics performance,” explains Canonical. The images combine the security and reliability features offered by a containerized Ubuntu Core (much of which is also available with Ubuntu Desktop) with enhanced support for hardware security measures built into the latest Intel silicon, the company explains.

Intel-optimized images are also used by participants in Canonical’s Ubuntu Certified Hardware program, such as DFI and Advantech.

The Linux 5.13 The kernel released in June adds support for some of the new IoT features found on the Elkhart Lake and Tiger Lake-U Core processors. These include EDAC, USB, Timed GPIO, and Time Coordinated Computing (TCC) fixes.

The new Ubuntu images include additional support for Intel’s TCC and new industry-standard time-sensitive network (TSN) support. TCC and TSN synchronize data, communications, and executions across IoT device networks to improve worst-case execution time. Both technologies are incorporated into Tiger Lake-U “GRE” parts, as well as the Elkhart Lake RE and FE models.

There is also new support for the Intel Management Engine. This is defined by Intel as an integrated microcontroller that runs a lightweight microkernel operating system and enables low power out of band (OOB) management. It also offers features such as license service (CLS), anti-theft protection, and protected audio video path (PAVP) technologies.

The Intel Management Engine is very similar to Elkhart Lake’s Intel Programmable Services Engine (Intel PSE), which is built around a companion Cortex-M7 core driven by Zephyr and provides both OOB and in-band device management ( INB) for remote monitoring and management of devices via OTA updates. Intel PSE also hosts new features such as remote control, network proxy, integrated controller, and sensor hub functionality.


Some other fixes specifically target “Aaeon’s EHL”. This may refer to the Elkhart Lake-based PICO-EHL4 Pico-ITX SBC, which was teased a year ago during the Elkhart Lake announcement, and which we now see is fully documented. We could be wrong, however, as the Ubuntu images include a bug fix that allows Ubuntu to use the Intel. I225-IT 2.5GbE Ethernet controller, which joins other Intel 2.5GbE controllers such as the Intel i225-LM. The Pico-EHL (as at Elk Hart Lake) is listed with two 1GbE ports based on Realtek’s RTL8111H.

Either way, we’ll be reporting the PICO-EHL4 soon with Aaeon’s Tiger Lake-U-based 3.5-inch GENE-TGU6, which was revealed in May and was officially announced today.

The new Ubuntu images add the following optimizations for Elkhart Lake and Tiger Lake:

  • MEI (Intel Management Engine Interface) (LP: 1929894)
  • [EHL] Intel ishtp VNIC driver (LP: 1943524)
  • [EHL] Support for quadrature encoder devices (LP: 1929897)
  • Activate the Time Coordinated Computing Interface Driver (LP: 1929903)
  • Integrated TSN controller (LP: 1943687)
  • Support for EHL graphics (LP: 1883616)

“In addition to meeting the unique needs of our IoT customers on a free validated Linux, our collaboration with Canonical enables customers to access enterprise support on a long-term supported version when looking to deploy their solutions. Said John Healy, vice president of IOTG platform management and client engineering at Intel. “This addresses the traditional challenges of maintaining and supporting custom releases for validated Linux-based deployments. “

More information

Intel IoT optimized images for Ubuntu Desktop 20.04 and Ubuntu Core 20 are available for download here. More information can be found in Canonical announcement.

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Steven L. Nielsen

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