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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  • StealthyOne - Friday, July 1, 2005 - link

    where is the pentium EE? :-)
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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 (=
  • Furen - Friday, July 1, 2005 - link

    haha, what a cool article name and icon =)

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