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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  • sweatshopking - Saturday, May 09, 2009 - link

    maybe we should take the linux tab off the top since nobody has updated since '05.... Reply
  • PrincessNybor - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    I was just going to say the same thing. If Anandtech isn't going to cover Linux, then just remove the tab and call it a day. If you are going to even pretend to make Linux a priority, then perhaps at least ONE article per YEAR would be a nice way to start. No articles since 2005 is just embarrassing.

    Ryan offered that Ubuntu article well over a year ago, and has offered nothing but excuses since then. I realize you are all busy, and I don't fault him for anything besides not coming out and saying that Linux isn't a priority at Anandtech.
    Reply
  • rossmcdonald - Thursday, September 11, 2008 - link

    Didn't AT talk about doing a linux for a month article many months ago? Reply
  • Milleman - Sunday, September 14, 2008 - link

    Yepp! He/they did!
    What happened to that one? They've probably lost it down the drain somewhere. Or is M$ paying them to not favor any other O/S now...? Somehow it seems that AT lost all interrest in Linux. Bad move...
    Reply
  • forkd - Monday, November 17, 2008 - link

    I agree, Anandtech wasn't a bad source of linux info 'til this article stopped everything.

    I'm not really upset but I am a little disappointed.

    At some point they should take the Linux tab off of the website.

    Years ago I subscribed to consumerreports.com for information on products I was considering on purchasing. I quickly realized that most of the articles on things i looked for were out dated by years.

    Of course I never paid for my anandtech subscription so I can't complain about them leaning toward more profitable press.
    Reply
  • Milleman - Sunday, June 15, 2008 - link

    Hello??

    Is this the latest Linux article from Anand, made 3 years ago...?
    Come on...
    Reply
  • fstratzero - Saturday, March 22, 2008 - link

    I'd say testing linux is freaking hard to do. I'm a Gentoo linux user.

    And having complied tons of kernels over the years, performance can range greatly in what options you use in your kernel. I found that the CFQ scheduler can hurt performance since it tries to spread out cpu usage evenly between all processes.

    That and also with linux you could assign a single process to a single core. Alternatively you could "nice" the application ie lower priority and still have a really usable system.

    People in our forums will compile stuff on one cpu and use the other for playing games while having tons of crap running in the background, and report their seemingly invincible performance feeling.

    Although I don't know much about Suse, I'd say this review is pretty well done for people that don't "get under the hood." Yet if you do get your hands a little wet with nice and taskset, you can do just about anything and hardly feel a slow down.
    Reply
  • orbatos - Sunday, November 05, 2006 - link

    Why no Shake vs. Shake, sure 3.5 isn't available, but 3.01(?) would be fine. Where's GIMP on windows? NewTek's LightWave® 3D 7.5b != ScreamerNet 7.5b , Why not go Blender vs. Blender or Maya vs. Maya? Who uses Mozilla Composer as an alternative to Dreamweaver as opposed to the myriad of other available web dev software? Outlook? what about Thunderbird on Windows? XMMS vs. iTunes doesn't make sense, they're different types of applications, try Rhythmbox. WinZip vs. Gzip doesn't make sense, try comparing a GUI tool. MS Office vs. OO.o, at least try the windows versions! If you're comparing workalikes as opposed to the same software, don't compare Nero vs. Nero, the Linux version is terrible.

    Suggestion: WaveLab is a do-all of audio manipulation, not the type of software that has direct analog under Linux, try looking at suites of software that can be used to the same effect all through a similar interface (e.g. JACK). Antivirus? ClamAV sounds decent, did you even look?
    Reply
  • hojit - Tuesday, July 12, 2005 - link

    Has any one pointed out the mod15 error using the sil3112/3114 and the seagate hd's the hardware in the article seems to suggest a conflict on the amd system. I had this same issue and it killed all my speeds for things like transcoding and any thing hd intencive. Reply
  • MarcusAsleep - Saturday, July 09, 2005 - link

    Howdy!

    I was just wondering what kernel and kernel settings you were using. Since the article was on multi-tasking it seems especially relevent since the development of low-latency/preemptable options in recent years!

    Any clue?

    Mark.
    Reply

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