The purpose of the ISA SIG is to quantify the potential benefits of applying existing compiler technology to distribution packages, targeting more recent CPUs, and evaluating different options for how these optimizations can be maintained in a scalable way, and delivered to end users.

Our initial focus is the x86_64 architecture, but other architectures may be included in the future.

Today, there is a significant delay between the release of new x86-64 ISAs and the adoption across the entire CentOS distribution. For example, CentOS 9 Stream released with the x86-64-v2 ISA baseline, nine to thirteen years after such CPUs became commercially available. The concern is that this discrepancy leaves more recent CPU features unused, and end users do not see the best possible performance for the CPUs they use.

Parts of the distribution are built with run-time selected optimizations, but this only applies to specialized functional areas, such as string manipulation, certain mathematical operations, and cryptography, but not (for example) to language interpreters that are part of CentOS.

We welcome anybody that's interested and willing to do work within the scope of the SIG to join and contribute.

This documentation is still a work in progress and we'd welcome any contributions.