Introduction

With all of the attention on dual core processors lately, it has been real easy to overlook the one application that might benefit more from multiple cores than any other; Linux. OK, so technically Linux isn't an application, but the kernel has supported SMP for nine years almost to the date. The road to SMP has not been an easy one for Linux, but in the last nine years, and particularly since 1999, Linux has received quite the attention as a 2-8 processor core operating system. If you need a reference, just look at how many Linux machines hold SPEC benchmark records in web serving and number crunching.

But does any of this translate to great desktop performance for dual core processors? We are going to look at that question today while also determining whether Intel or AMD is the better suited contender for the Linux desktop. We have some slightly non-traditional (but very replicable) tests we plan on running today that should demonstrate the strengths of each processor family as well as the difference between some similar Windows tests that we have performed in the past on similar configurations. Ultimately, we would love to see a Linux configuration perform the same task as a Windows machine but faster.

Just to recap, the scope of today's exploration will be to determine which configuration offers the best performance per buck on Linux, and whether or not any of these configurations out perform similar Windows machines running similar benchmarks. It becomes real easy to lose the scope of the analysis otherwise. We obtained some reasonably priced dual core Intel and AMD processors for our benchmarks today, and we will also throw in some benchmarks of newer single core chips to give some point of reference.

The Test
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  • jamori - Wednesday, July 06, 2005 - link

    For the web browsing multitasking scenario...
    "Even with additional instances of FireFox, the import times are much faster than the Windows counterpart of this benchmark. "

    maybe i'm missing something, but the SLOWEST time on Windows is only about 30s slower than the FASTEST time on linux. The X2 4200+ is 45s slower in linux...

    Also:
    The chart for the compile while gaming (gaming benchmark 2) is pointless since it doesn't show -j3 for the single core processors. Even on single core processors, there is some benefit to be had in situations where job1 is waiting on the disk, job2 can finish its compile and in turn wait on the disk while job1 uses the CPU.
    For instance: the way it is (with the -j1 setting) the equivalently clocked 4200+ and 3500+ perform about the same. What's to say they won't with -j3 as well?
    Reply
  • rbochan - Wednesday, July 06, 2005 - link

    Comment: I enjoyed the article...it may or may not be biased, but coupled with the community's comments enabled me to get the sense of relative performance I was hoping for.

    My Environment: I currently have an Athlon 3800+ configuration, 1 GB 2-2-2-5 Corsair Memory, and write Fortran77 programs to do simulation. Recently changing last year's GCC compiler to Intel's 9.0 auto-parallelizing compiler yielded a 31% decrease in run time. I do simulations that need to be done dozens of times a week that take about 15 hours apiece. These are heavy in floating point calculations with some trigonometric functions as well. This is done for fun (I am retired).

    My Question: I am planning (in about 6 to 8 months) to upgrade to either a Four Dual-Core Opteron system (fastest chips then available) or a Four Processor Itanium-2 System. This is strictly for the simulation (number crunching) application. Comparisons in this arena are even more difficult to come by than those in this article. You guys do not seem short on opinion and I would appreciate yours...plus any references you would suggest to help figure out which way to go.

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • snorre - Tuesday, July 05, 2005 - link

    #54, I agree. Kristopher Kubicki has been biased towards Intel ever since he joined Anandtech, and there have always been some issues with all the articles he has been involved in.

    Why are there no 64-bit large-scale benchmarks, requiring 4GB+ of RAM ?

    And why didn't he include Athlon 64-X2 4400+, 4600+ or 4800+ ?

    And please also include some real SMP benchmarks instead of all these stupid multitasking benchmarks that nobody cares about anyways.
    Reply
  • DrMrLordX - Sunday, July 03, 2005 - link

    #49, the real problem is that Kubicki's articles never have the detail of benchmarks carried out under Windows XP. We get fewer benchmarks and less hardware tested. Sure, there aren't as many programs under Linux available, perhapss, but that's no reason for him to cut out all single-app tests. People will frequently be running one single-threade or multithreaded app on dual-core CPUs, and they will also be running only two apps at once. Neither such scenario is represented well in this benchmark.

    This article does not provide enough information to draw conclusions about which CPU will be best under Linux.
    Reply
  • sMashPiranha - Saturday, July 02, 2005 - link

    Seemed a little Intel biased, but who doesn't have a bias? Informative nonetheless. Reply
  • tommy2q - Saturday, July 02, 2005 - link

    someone needs to be fired Reply
  • sprockkets - Saturday, July 02, 2005 - link

    funny, the web page says 51 comments, last comment by ElFenix on Jul 1,2005 at 11:50pm when my comment above is 51 at 12:03 AM on Jul 2 Reply
  • sprockkets - Saturday, July 02, 2005 - link

    for Steinberg Wave lab, how about Audacity? GLAME?

    Doesn't Nerolinux use the command line cdrecord and such anyhow?
    Reply
  • ElFenix - Friday, July 01, 2005 - link

    just a couple minor nits to pick, and this goes back to my whole 'you guys really need to hire an articles editor' thing that i've been harping on for 2 or 3 years
    on page 8, it says haplessly, where you should probably have happily. haplessly isn't a very positive word.
    and, as someone else has already pointed out, the manchester is not the $558 processor in this round up.


    if you get in a faster core (maybe a 1 meg l2 cache version), could you please update the article? thanks.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 01, 2005 - link

    4400+ would have been nice, but it's hard to get all the CPUs we'd like for every article. The 4800+ is in a league of its own as far as price, so including that would dictate that we also include the P4XE 840. Delaying articles for a few weeks while we try to get CPUs sorted out is not very useful either..There will be future articles, so don't get too worried. Reply

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