By now you have likely read all about the features announced for Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" thus far along with seeing plenty of screenshots and videos showing off Launchpad, Mission Control, Versions, the improved mail client, and much more. But how does Apple's next-generation operating system perform? Well, here is a look at the performance of Mac OS X 10.7, including what are likely the first public benchmarks of Mac OS X Lion.
While Linux is our main focus at Phoronix, we don't mind checking out Apple's Mac OS X, especially in seeing how this operating system is battling Windows and how the performance of all major operating systems are competing. We were the first publication to deliver in-depth benchmarks of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, compared the Ubuntu Linux and Mac OS X performance, see how Mac OS X and Ubuntu battle Windows 7, benchmark various point releases, and have also looked at Apple's OpenCL performance and their enhanced OpenGL driver stack.
Apple's operating system is also a first-class citizen within our automated Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software and the recently released OpenBenchmarking.org platform for result aggregation and testing collaboration. In fact, there are tons of Mac OS X 10.6 benchmarks on OpenBenchmarking.org considering that this unique web platform just launched last weekend.
Now it is time to provide a first-look at the Mac OS X 10.7 operating system performance based upon last week's developer preview.
The initial testing of this still-in-development operating system was on a Mac Mini with an Intel Core 2 Duo clocked at 2.00GHz, NVIDIA GeForce 9400 graphics, and 1GB of DDR3 system memory. Worth noting is the kernel version reported is 11.0, the 64-bit OS X kernel is now used by default on supported operating systems (rather than needing to make manual modifications for enablement) instead of the 32-bit version, and for applications requiring X compatibility there is now X.Org Server 1.9, which is a big upgrade over X.Org Server 1.4 found within the Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.
The Mac OS X 10.7 11A390 build was compared to Mac OS X 10.6.6 while both were in a stock configuration and both were installed to a freshly formatted Journaled HFS+ file-system. Xcode 3.2.5 with GCC 4.2.1 and Clang 1.6 were also installed to each OS release for building the arsenal of test profiles.
While we would love to deliver a large series of benchmarks at this time for Mac OS X 10.7, the results being published are limited since Mac OS X 10.7 is currently an unfinished product and in particular there is one issue with this 10.7 build that limits its relevance. Whether this was an intentional move by Apple engineers to limit performance testing of the early developer preview build or is a bug, the Mac OS X 10.7 kernel in this build was not SMP-enabled. Thus, only one of the two cores for the Intel Core 2 Duo processor is being utilized under Mac OS X 10.7 for this build.
With that said, anyone interested in the full set of executed benchmarks, they are available on OpenBenchmarking.org. These results compare the stock configurations of Mac OS X 10.6.6 and Mac OS X 10.7 from the Mac Mini with NVIDIA graphics. If you wish to see how your system compares to this Mac OS X 10.7 Lion setup, simply run phoronix-test-suite benchmark 1103018-IV-MACOSX10748 to automate the entire process of test installation and setup of these same exact benchmarks and then to compare the results side-by-side.