The Test
Testing our dual core Linux system will be done in the same manner as Anand's tests from several weeks ago. There are various test applications that are not exactly drop in compatible between Linux and Windows, but in many instances there are some extremely practical similarities in which it would make more sense to run a Linux application over the Windows alternative. For example, Apple's Shake will only run on Mac OSX or Linux - leaving Windows out in the cold.

Today's benchmarking will be a little different than Linux benchmarks we have done in the past. While we are still keeping strict usage controls and assuring that our benchmarks are 100% replicable, we are also looking more at the quality of performance rather than just the raw numbers. A fluid experience on a Linux machine that is slightly slower than a sporadic Windows alternative would be a design win for Linux - at least in our opinion. Naturally, since we have some very nice processors from Intel and AMD, we can do a slightly more traditional comparison of each of those processors against each other in the various scenarios. Using the applications list Anand set forward in his original benchmarks, we attempted to compile a list of commercial and FOSS Linux software to use for Linux.

Windows Application

Linux Application

Adobe® Photoshop® 7.0.1

The Gimp 2.3.1

No suggestions yet

Apple Shake 3.5c

Macromedia® Dreamweaver MX 6.1

Mozilla Composer 1.7.8

Microsoft® Windows MediaTM

MPlayer 1.0pre7

Encoder 9 Version 9.00.00.2980 (Video)

MEncoder 1.0pre7, CCE

Encoder 9 Version 9.00.00.2980 (Audio)

lame 3.96.1

iTunes

XMMS 1.2.10

NewTek's LightWave® 3D 7.5b

ScreamerNet 7.5b

WinZip 8.1

Gzip 1.2.4

VC++ Compilation

GCC 3.3.4

Pro/E Wildfire

Pro/E Wildfire

Outlook 2003

Mozilla Thunderbird 1.7.8

Microsoft Office/Word/Excel 2003

OpenOffice 1.1.4

Firefox 1.0.2

FireFox 1.0.4

Nero Burning ROM 6

NeroLINUX

DVD Shrink

DVD Backup 0.1.1, dvd::rip

BitTorrent

BitTorrent

Macromedia® Director MX 9.0

No suggestions yet

SteinbergTM WaveLabTM 4.0f

No suggestions yet

Norton AntiVirus 2004

No Suggestions yet

Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta

No Suggestions yet


Some of the suggestions we have made above are more the subject of personal preference than absolutes. There are some loose alternatives for Shake on Windows, but there are also some loose alternatives for WaveLab and Director on Linux as well. The idea is that we want to construct a few multi-threaded benchmarks that emulate the usage of real Linux power users. Below are the seven benchmarks we have outlined our six benchmarks to use in this analysis and why we picked them. We won't be using all of the software from the list above, but the intention is that we will for future benchmarks.

  • Multitasking Scenario 1: DVD Transcoding - We will rip a DVD while using moderate usage from web browsing, music and newsgroups. This is very comparable to Anand's original Windows benchmark found here.
  • Multitasking Scenario 2: File Compression - We will compress some text files for backup while running a few base applications at the same time. This is also extremely comparable to Anand's original Windows benchmark found here.
  • Multitasking Scenario 3: Web Browsing - Here we attempt to utilize an extremely large load of web browsers while also doing some typical background applications. This is also very similar to Anand's original benchmark.
  • Multitasking Scenario 4: DVD Burning - Using the same benchmark as the DVD Ripping, we will now burn a DVD instead. Since the DVD burn is typically limited by the burn speed of the hardware, we will compress a file as our benchmark.
  • Gaming Multitasking Scenario 1: Heavy Downloading - We will use several BitTorrent clients at once while benchmarking Doom 3.
  • Gaming Multitasking Scenario 2: Compiling and Gaming - We will time the compilation of the Linux Kernel and GCC during a Neverwinter Nights session.

We tried to select benchmarks that were a combination of maximum load benchmarks with benchmarks that we can evaluate on quality. For example, compression and Doom3 are easy to quantify in time or FPS since they will utilize as much of the system as possible. Secondary operations like web browsing and playing music will induce load on the system and we will hopefully see really positive results on dual core configurations if the Linux scheduler is doing its job.

Index The Hardware
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  • JGunther - Friday, July 01, 2005 - link

    They're going for $660 on ZipZoomFly, which is sold out again, but they were in stock yesterday.

    All I'm saying is, look around. Other review sites have come to the same conclusions: the AMD dual cores are better than their Intel couterpoints. Better deals? No. But this is not a "budget Linux dual core system" article, so let's leave the "best bang for your buck" talk for another time. I'd only ask that it be a performance-oriented review, like it claims to be, instead of him choosing to compare CPUs at only the price-point where Intel comes out on top. Cutting one CPU out because it's just $60 too much seems a bit arbitrary and biased to me.

    I tend not to get worked up about the whole AMD vs. Intel stuff-- my laptop at home is runnning a Pentium 4 in it. But when I clicked on this article, and saw who wrote it, I knew EXACTLY which CPU was going to be at the top of the charts. That should never happen. That's all.
    Reply
  • Tegeril - Friday, July 01, 2005 - link

    I think the compiling graphic is simply in error. Why would the 660 have a-j3 score better than the D 820. That doesn't make much sense. I'd bet the X2 is supposed to occupy that space and the 660 and 640 got shifted down by accident. Reply
  • mikellpp - Friday, July 01, 2005 - link

    Now why do you suppose there are no -j3 compile times for any of the Athlons in the last compile test? The author sooo wants intel to look good, he just can't bear to see AMD's better times. Are we supposed to be stupid readers? Reply
  • Tegeril - Friday, July 01, 2005 - link

    Ugh "None of his [dual core] CPUs tested..." is what I meant. Reply
  • Calin - Friday, July 01, 2005 - link

    Why the Athlon64 X2 has no -j3 compilation benchmarks?
    Also, in short, one can compare the Intel D840 and the AMD X2 as they cost about the same. And not everyone will keep their mainboards, as not everyone upgrades every six months. I think most buyers will buy both a new mainboard and a new processor. I would have thought of buying myself an Athlon64, but I would like an Socket939, and I think their price (compared to the 754) are highway robbery.
    I'll wait with the upgrade
    Reply
  • Tegeril - Friday, July 01, 2005 - link

    JGunther.

    None of his CPUs tested topped $600. Newegg has the 4400+ for $719. That is not in the same price range. He drew no unfavorable conclusions, finding AMD fantastic in gaming and showed its dual core option that competes with the D820 and D840 also performs well in multitasking environments.

    Your high performance quote is meaningless when you look on the "the hardware" page and read: "These processors are a bit on the high end"

    Stop creating controversy where there is none.
    Reply
  • JGunther - Friday, July 01, 2005 - link

    #19, If he wanted to do some equal price comparisons, there's also the 840 EE vs. the 4800+. Those should have been tested as well-- the article's talking about "high performance Linux machines", so the most prudent thing to do would be to show which CPU actually gives the best performance and let the reader know the respective prices, so that they can come to their own judgements.

    If Kris wants to nail home the point that doller for dollar, the Intel CPUs are the better deal by omitting benchmarks of competing, though higher priced, CPUs, let him do it on his own time, on a site that doesn't have the same integrity and non-bias standards as Anandtech should.

    There is only one dual core AMD chip being compared to two dual core Intel chips, despite the fact that the 4400+ is only a marginal increase in price. I suspect this is to keep his benchmark graphs more Intel-heavy near the top, but if it's because he simply doesn't have a 4400+ (they're in stock at Newegg and ZipZoomFly), as #20 suggests, then he should have waited to post the article until he had a more balanced roundup of CPUs.

    Yeah I know my words are harsh, and I'm sorry. But this isn't the first time Kris has done this. It's irresponsible 'journalism' and reflects poorly on the site, and users *should* speak out against it.
    Reply
  • TheJet - Friday, July 01, 2005 - link

    One thing to note, I usually run -j3 on my _single_ processor Celeron 466 *NIX workstation and get significantly better performance than a standard make. So really, performance numbers should have been shown for -j3 across the board, not just for the dual core parts.

    Reply
  • Furen - Friday, July 01, 2005 - link

    He has mentioned (repeatedly) that he doesnt have an X2 4400 and that Anand is the one who has the X2 4800, so he had to make do with what he had. I, personally, like the article (though I hate pentium Ds ^^), just wish there was more data on some of the tests, heh. Reply
  • IKeelU - Friday, July 01, 2005 - link

    #17, He's comparing simiarily-priced CPUs. Would it be more fair to compare a $1000 AMD CPU to intel's $558? Reply

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