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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  • StealthyOne - Friday, July 1, 2005 - link

    where is the pentium EE? :-) Reply
  • JGunther - Friday, July 1, 2005 - link

    #4, it's 'cause Kris is writing the article. 'nuff said. ONCE AGAIN he's skewed the benchmarks by throwing the top of the line Intel dual core chip up against the entry level AMD chip. Nice job.

    Also, ditto on #7 and #12... way to criticize the AMD part for its price, Kris, without mentioning that the Pentium-D requires a mobo upgrade while the X2 does not.
  • semo - Friday, July 1, 2005 - link

    #6 that's what i'm thinking.

    plus, i thought that with dma enabled, the cpu would not have to do too much work to burn a dvd
  • atlr - Friday, July 1, 2005 - link

    I look forward to some database server/web server tests. Reply
  • appu - Friday, July 1, 2005 - link

    Kris, great work! You might want to consider
    amaroK ( as an equivalent
    of iTunes under Linux, or even gtkpod. XMMS is
    better treated as an equivalent of Winamp 2.x.
  • Furen - Friday, July 1, 2005 - link

    I have one question: why was the compile job on the x2 system only run with -j1? Not trying to flame you or anything, just a wondering... Reply
  • bob661 - Friday, July 1, 2005 - link

    Kristopher Kubick,
    "At $558 you pay through the nose for the additional performance of the Athlon 64 X2 4200+"

    That's the price for the P-D 840 not the X2 4200.
  • SLIM - Friday, July 1, 2005 - link

    I think #7 has hit the nail on the head. One other large difference in the prices besides the memory is the extra $100+ spent on a 955x motherboard or a comparable nforce4 sli intel edition (not sure if these support dual core yet though). The price difference, as has been pointed out several time before, between the intel cpus and amd cpus is just about negated once you tack on the extra cost of the MB and memory.

    You could definitely choose a 945 MB and save about $100 but I have yet to see the pentium D benched on that platform, and I don't think there is an sli platform for intel that's available for under $225.

  • GoatHerderEd - Friday, July 1, 2005 - link

    Ill stick with my K6-3 550 (= Reply
  • Furen - Friday, July 1, 2005 - link

    haha, what a cool article name and icon =) Reply

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