Although we have performed a few interesting benchmarks of processors on Linux in our past benchmarks, whenever I get cornered by a professor on campus or guest speak at a Linux Users Group, the first question anyone asks me is, "Which processor should I get for my new workstation?" Although the possibilities are totally limitless, the Linux users whom I have met generally have the mentality of "build something out of complete new parts, so it lasts" or "build something out of stuff that I find for free." Generally, the latter doesn't present many options, so today, we will address the first scenario - which new components make the ultimate Linux workstation. We found a few high end AMD and Intel processors to pit against our comprehensive Linux benchmark suite. Of course, don't forget to check out some of our other benchmarks including AMD Sempron, Opteron 150 and Nocona 3.6 from last month.

With so many socket, memory and processor configurations, recent computer configurations can be extremely confusing. DDR2 or DDR1? AMD or Intel? 1MB L2 cache or 512KB? HyperThreading on or off? None of these are easy questions, particularly if we throw an alternative opterating system in the mix. We set up all of our benchmarks so that they can be replicated easily by anyone using a similar configuration. Below, you can see which configurations were used for the benchmark analysis.

 Performance Test Configuration
Processor(s): AMD Athlon FX-53 (130nm, 2.4GHz, 1MB L2 Cache, Socket 939)
AMD Athlon 64 3800+ (130nm, 2.4GHz, 512KB L2 Cache)
AMD Athlon 64 3500+ (130nm, 2.2GHz, 512KB L2 Cache)
Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.4GHz (130nm, 512KB L2 Cache, 2MB L3 Cache)
Intel Pentium 4 560 3.6GHz (90nm, 1MB L2 Cache)
Intel Pentium 4 530 3.0GHz (90nm, 1MB L2 Cache)
RAM: 2 x 512MB Mushkin PC-3200 CL2 (400MHz)
2 x 512MB Corsair PC2-5400 CL3 (475MHz)
Motherboards: DFI LanParty 915P-T12 (Socket 775)
MSI K8T Neo2 (Socket 939)
Memory Timings: Default
Operating System(s): SuSE 9.1 Professional
Kernel 2.6.5-7.108
Compiler: linux:~ # gcc -v
Reading specs from /opt/gcc-mainline/lib/gcc/i586-suse-linux/3.4.1/specs
Configured with: ../configure --enable-threads=posix --prefix=/opt/gcc-mainline --with-local-prefix=/usr/local --infodir=/opt/gcc-mainline/share/info --mandir=/opt/gcc-mainline/share/man --libdir=/opt/gcc-mainline/lib --libexecdir=/opt/gcc-mainline/lib --enable-languages=c,c++,f77,objc,java,ada --enable-checking --enable-libgcj --with-gxx-include-dir=/opt/gcc-mainline/include/g++ --with-slibdir=/lib --with-system-zlib --enable-shared --enable-__cxa_atexit i586-suse-linux
Thread model: posix
gcc version 3.4.1 20040508 (prerelease) (SuSE Linux)

For the majority of the benchmark analysis, we leave the HyperThreading capabilities of the Intel processors off. Unfortunately, most workstation applications are not capable of multi-threading applications, and running HyperThreading penalizes the Intel processors when it isn't needed. We do run some benchmarks where multiple threads are utilized, and in those instances, we take some special consideration with multiple benchmarks. For most of our tests, you will see 32-bit binaries on 32-bit Linux kernels. Moving the mouse over these benchmark graphs will actually reveal the 64-bit tests that we have done with our Athlon 64 processors. The Intel processors in this analysis do not have 64-bit capabilities.

We also have a small DDR2 versus DDR1 comparison near the end of this article. For the Intel processors, we use the DDR2 memory provided by Corsair exclusively except for the DDR2 versus DDR1 comparison. We chose the MSI K8T board for our AMD tests, since it was one of the most stable and reasonabily priced motherboards for the 939 architecture. DFI won our spot as the Socket 775 test bed for its DDR2/DDR1 support and solid stability. Testing DDR2 versus DDR1 was extremely relevant to this motherboard, since we could just swap memory modules without changing motherboards. Let's jump right into benchmarking.

Generally, all of our benchmarks are taken three times and then the highest marks are recorded unless stated otherwise. Note that we have updated to the more current GCC 3.4.1.

Database Tests
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  • ravedave - Monday, September 20, 2004 - link

    What klah is trying to say in too many and too big of words : Make the scale the same for the mouseover pics.

    Also make the picture height the same as well if possible.

    Otherwise a very good article.

    Has anyone thought of making an open office benchmark for linux?

  • klah - Monday, September 20, 2004 - link

    Good article, but I have a comment on the mouse-over graphs. They work well in other articles such as the recent DVR-108D article where the scale and axes remain constant. In this case however the layout and in some cases even the scale are different between the two graphs. It would be easier to compare the two if the scale was the same and processors were in the same layout(spacing/location), with the inapplicable processors still listed to maintain the same appearance between the two.

    If that explanation is nonsensical I can create a few images to try to elucidate my point.

  • Decoder - Monday, September 20, 2004 - link

    "Hold your mouse over for the 64-bit graph."

    I like to see the 32 and 64 bits on the same graph. Why not use Athlon FX-53 (32) and Athlon FX-53 (64) for labels?

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