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 (Video)

MEncoder 1.0pre7, CCE

Encoder 9 Version (Audio)

lame 3.96.1


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


DVD Shrink

DVD Backup 0.1.1, dvd::rip



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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  • jamori - Wednesday, July 6, 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...

    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?
  • rbochan - Wednesday, July 6, 2005 - link

    Comment: I enjoyed the 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 any references you would suggest to help figure out which way to go.

  • snorre - Tuesday, July 5, 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.
  • DrMrLordX - Sunday, July 3, 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.
  • sMashPiranha - Saturday, July 2, 2005 - link

    Seemed a little Intel biased, but who doesn't have a bias? Informative nonetheless.
  • tommy2q - Saturday, July 2, 2005 - link

    someone needs to be fired
  • sprockkets - Saturday, July 2, 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
  • sprockkets - Saturday, July 2, 2005 - link

    for Steinberg Wave lab, how about Audacity? GLAME?

    Doesn't Nerolinux use the command line cdrecord and such anyhow?
  • ElFenix - Friday, July 1, 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.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 1, 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.

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