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Linux 2.6.20-rc6 Kernel Performance

Michael Larabel

Published on 31 January 2007
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 3 - Comment On This Article

On top of our hardware reviews and comparisons at Phoronix we also cover and compare the latest ATI and NVIDIA drivers along with some of the other popular software packages; however, we have decided to feature Linux kernel performance comparisons with each major release. We will be covering some of the major highlights with each release as well as comparing its performance in a variety of tests against recent kernels. The intent of these articles will be to provide users with a better understanding for some of the prominent changes and to see how the performance is affected in some of our commonly used benchmarks. Without further ado, we present our kernel comparison for the Linux 2.6.20-rc6 kernel!

With this being our first kernel performance comparison, it is also our "guinea pig" article as we finalize our selection of benchmarks to use, what exactly we will be focusing on in these articles, and other areas for coverage. With that said we have used the Linux 2.6.20-rc6 kernel as the primary focus of today's testing, which should be the last release candidate until the final 2.6.20 release. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for future Linux kernel comparisons in the Phoronix Forums.

Among the major changes in the Linux 2.6.20 kernel are official Sony Playstation 3 support, KVM virtualization support, libata improvements, relocatable kernel, asynchronous SCSI scanning, and multi-threaded USB probing. The Sony Playstation 3 support in the 2.6.20 kernel is coming because of Sony engineers contributing the patches, which add machine-specific support for various items. The KVM virtualization support being included with the Linux 2.6.20 kernel is certainly the most talked about feature with this release. If you had missed our earlier article on the Kernel-based Virtual Machine, it can be read here with tentative performance figures.

Hardware Components
Processor: Intel Pentium M 750
Motherboard: Lenovo ThinkPad R52
Memory: 2 x 1GB OCZ DDR2
Graphics Card: ATI Mobility Radeon X300
Hard Drives: 80GB 5400RPM IDE
Software Components
Operating System: Fedora Core 6
Linux Kernel: 2.6.19
2.6.19.2
2.6.20-rc6
GCC: 4.1.1
X.Org: 7.1.1

The Linux kernels we had tested to compare against the 2.6.20-rc6 kernel were the 2.6.19 and 2.6.19.2 kernels. No outside patches were included when compiling the vanilla kernels and the same general configuration was used throughout the entire testing process. The benchmarks we had used for this kernel comparison was Enemy Territory, hdparm read test, Gzip compression, LAME compilation, LAME encoding, and RAMspeed.

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