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Ubuntu 12.04 LTS: 32-bit vs. 64-bit Performance

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  • Ubuntu 12.04 LTS: 32-bit vs. 64-bit Performance

    Phoronix: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS: 32-bit vs. 64-bit Performance

    While most x86 hardware shipping in the past few years has been x86_64-capable, Canonical has continued recommending the 32-bit version of Ubuntu Linux over the 64-bit version. With Ubuntu 12.04 LTS "Precise Pangolin" this will hopefully change where the 64-bit version becomes recommended as the default spin. In this article are some updated benchmarks showing the performance of the 32-bit versus 64-bit versions of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=17101

  • #2
    What about everyday use?

    While I don't see a reason not to use 64 bit myself (I've been using the 64 bit build for the past few years) none of these benchmarks exactly represent everyday use. What are the advantages, if any, of using 64 bit for common tasks like browsing the web, watching movies, listening to music? I guess there really aren't any, which is why it hasn't been recommended so far. There are no improvements for the average user and there is (or was) the risk of imcompatibilities (like Flash). I guess the biggest advantage is support for more RAM without having to resort to hacks like PAE. It would still be interesting to see if "normal" tasks actually benefit from the switch.

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    • #3
      I haven't used 64bit for a long time becuase of the exact same things Wildfire says. In normal use there is no difference except when you need to get a program you can't find becuase it isn't 64bit or when things "seem" slower, I did no acutal benchmarks but I couldn't help but feel booting was slower, opening prgrams was slower and just about anything else seemed slower on 64 bit.

      It's quite obvious however what the benchmarks say and just like Micheal said I may switch back to see how it goes with Precise.

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      • #4
        But that's just it. The benchmarks say it's better for compute-intensive tasks (which is as I'd expect) but nothing about regular work. Like I said I've been using 64 bit for quite some time now (after switching back and forth for some time). I can confirm that it did "feel" slower for some tasks, but I think that's pretty much gone with recent releases. I can't remember any 64 bit related troubles with recent releases either (I can't speak for everyone else of course). That aside, I do think moving towards 64 bit as the default is a step in the right direction.

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        • #5
          it has been the case that applications on 64bit used twice as much ram. does anyone know the reason?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by jakubo View Post
            it has been the case that applications on 64bit used twice as much ram. does anyone know the reason?
            64bit vs 32bit pointers being one of the reasons they balloon up a bit more than their 32-bit counterparts.

            I used to see it as a problem back on my 1GB AMD Turion laptop. but nowadays with 4GB minimum on most systems running x86_64 is a given.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Wildfire View Post
              There are no improvements for the average user and there is (or was) the risk of imcompatibilities (like Flash). I guess the biggest advantage is support for more RAM without having to resort to hacks like PAE.
              No Flash is an advantage, Firefox is much more stable without that. More ram is also an advantage, since Firefox won't just die when it needs more than 4 GB. It has gotten much better with ram usage in the latest versions though.

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              • #8
                You realize that Flash _does_ work (and has been for some time) on 64 bit? If you don't want/need it, just disable the plugin. I still "need" Flash because some websites require it.

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                • #9
                  Memory Constrained Environments?

                  It would be interesting to test using 1 GB of RAM, not 4. Does 64 bit goodness dominate in memory constrained environments like my headless server?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Wildfire View Post
                    You realize that Flash _does_ work (and has been for some time) on 64 bit? If you don't want/need it, just disable the plugin. I still "need" Flash because some websites require it.
                    Oh, sure, it does work. But at least a while ago, just having Flash installed made Firefox a lot more unstable (and possibly exploitable, unless Adobe deigned to actually provide updates, and you actually bothered to manually install them). And between html5 video, clive, and a Chrome (with autoupdated Flash) for the few cases when a website actually needs Flash for something interesting as opposed to annoying (close to never for me) I like my Flash-less Firefox as default browser.

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                    • #11
                      I've been using Linux since 2006 and started with x86_64 Ubuntu before moving to Arch x86_64. I've never used a 32 bit version of Linux. Flash was a bit fiddly early on but not for a long time now and has certainly never made Firefox unstable for me.

                      I'd consider myself an "average" user and 64 bit was the obvious choice even back in 2006, as things like ripping MP3s is a lot faster. Seems like a no-brainer to me. And I never ran out of memory with 1 GB either (using 8 these days).

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Wildfire View Post
                        While I don't see a reason not to use 64 bit myself (I've been using the 64 bit build for the past few years) none of these benchmarks exactly represent everyday use. What are the advantages, if any, of using 64 bit for common tasks like browsing the web, watching movies, listening to music? I guess there really aren't any, which is why it hasn't been recommended so far. There are no improvements for the average user and there is (or was) the risk of imcompatibilities (like Flash). I guess the biggest advantage is support for more RAM without having to resort to hacks like PAE. It would still be interesting to see if "normal" tasks actually benefit from the switch.
                        I've got some data from some 32 bit vs 32 bit pae vs 64 bit:

                        http://zinc.canonical.com/~cking/pow.../results-1.txt
                        http://zinc.canonical.com/~cking/pow.../results-2.txt
                        http://zinc.canonical.com/~cking/pow...-3/results.txt

                        It really depends on the kind of processor, size of memory and usecase, so you're milage may vary.

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                        • #13
                          I like it. From having been very bleeding-edge and experimental anno ~2007, 64-bit support is shaping up nicely and can only become better as stuff becomes optimized for it. Some of the tasks I use my computer for are *definitely* CPU intensive, including video encoding.

                          Is there a base difference in wattage between 32-bit and 64-bit? Theoretically the faster a CPU can finish a task the sooner it may enter a lower C-state. I'd love to see these benchmarks redone while also recording power draw.

                          I don't really have any compelling arguments to not go 64-bit, so whenever possible I do. Few things I need only come in 32-bit flavors, and what does can often be executed anyway.

                          That said, one exception I've come across was the closed source driver for the Canon P-150 document scanner.
                          Multi-platform compatibility
                          The P-150 offers compatibility on Mac systems with an included Mac TWAIN driver and CaptureOnTouch software for Mac. Also a SANE compliant Linux driver is available for organisations preferring to develop with open architecture. This driver can be downloaded from Canonís software support site.
                          Said token driver only comes in 32-bit builds and is not being maintained. That's just bad and borderline lying, Canon. Looks good on paper, though!

                          It turns out 64-bit sane-utils doesn't have the backwards compatibility needed to speak with 32-bit drivers -- but I extracted the 32-bit deb and used the scanimage binary therein instead. Granted, the workaround fails the ordinary-Joe test, but the blame is solely on Canon.

                          (If you work for them, please send a harsh mail to the driver department; the rest of us just get stuck in "customer support", where we're kindly told you never explicitly said you supported 64-bit linux. It's like claiming your hotel has a shower in every bathroom, when in reality it's just a tap on the wall at breast height. Cold water tap. Also it hasn't been cleaned since being built in 2010. But you could totally "shower" there!)

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by AnonymousCoward View Post
                            Oh, sure, it does work. But at least a while ago, just having Flash installed made Firefox a lot more unstable (and possibly exploitable, unless Adobe deigned to actually provide updates, and you actually bothered to manually install them). And between html5 video, clive, and a Chrome (with autoupdated Flash) for the few cases when a website actually needs Flash for something interesting as opposed to annoying (close to never for me) I like my Flash-less Firefox as default browser.
                            If you manage without it, then cheers; all the better. I don't like the idea of Flash but I can't do without it yet.

                            As my own anecdote I haven't had to kill a soaring 100% CPU Flash process for months now, literally. Flash crashing is even rarer.

                            That's with Chromium though; separately killing plugins is easy via its task manager, and a crashing plugin just shows me a sad face where the plugin was. Browser crashes happen but I can usually blame that on me running a development build (from the chromium-daily ppa).

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by AnonymousCoward View Post
                              Oh, sure, it does work. But at least a while ago, just having Flash installed made Firefox a lot more unstable (and possibly exploitable, unless Adobe deigned to actually provide updates, and you actually bothered to manually install them). And between html5 video, clive, and a Chrome (with autoupdated Flash) for the few cases when a website actually needs Flash for something interesting as opposed to annoying (close to never for me) I like my Flash-less Firefox as default browser.
                              I can agree with that, but I think personal preferences are beside the point here. The original question was whether 64 bit has any advantages for the average user (something the benchmark doesn't cover). So far 64 bit had disadvantages(*), which is probably why Canonical didn't recommend it. Now that 64 bit works reasonably well for anyone they're making it the default. But does it actually bring some benefits for non cpu intensive tasks? Being able to use more memory is definitely a plus, but in the case of Firefox throwing more RAM at it sounds more like a cure to the problem than the actual cause.

                              *) I would count no access to Flash as a disadvantage, because in this case you don't have a choice about using it or not. Now that it's available you can configure it whichever way you want. You don't use it, it's a possible security issue, but the average user won't care and will complain if it's missing.

                              Originally posted by dealcorn View Post
                              It would be interesting to test using 1 GB of RAM, not 4. Does 64 bit goodness dominate in memory constrained environments like my headless server?
                              I guess it depends on whether you're cpu constrained or memory constrained. If you're memory constrained switching to 64 bit might actually make things worse, because programms will typically use more memory (so you'll run out of memory sooner). If you're cpu bound 64 bit might be beneficial (as the benchmark shows).
                              Last edited by Wildfire; 02-28-2012, 06:58 AM.

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