With Phoronix having turned 11 years old last week, there's been several interesting articles looking at the historical performance of Linux, large GPU/driver comparisons, etc. Today is arguably the most interesting birthday article yet. I dug out an old Intel Socket 478 system with the i875p Canterwood chipset and Pentium 4 and Celeron CPUs that still manage to power up. I compared the Linux performance of this 11+ year old system to a variety of today's x86 and ARM systems. Beyond looking at the raw performance, the performance-per-Watt was also measured to make for a very interesting look at how CPU performance has evolved over the past decade.
For this nostalgic testing, the only system I have around that works from 10+ years ago from the days of starting Phoronix is one built around the Abit IC7-MAX3. This i875p + ICH5R motherboard was one of my favorite from back in the day when Abit was in business of producing great motherboards like it and the NF7-S. The IC7-MAX3 sported its unique "OTES" cooling system, DDR-400 memory support, AGP 8x, six Serial ATA ports, etc. With this dusty system there was 1GB of DDR memory, 160GB Seagate SATA HDD, and an ECS ATI Radeon 9200 (RV280) 128MB graphics card.
The Pentium 4 that powered up still was the Pentium 4 "C" 2.80GHz (SL6WT) Northwood processor with 512KB cache and 800MHz FSB. This Pentium 4 was manufactured on a 130nm process and was single-core but featured Hyper Threading. The TDP on this 2.8GHz HT CPU on the NetBurst micro-architecture was 69.7 Watts.
The only other Socket 478 CPU still around and working was the Celeron D 320 2.40GHz (SL7JV) from 2004 that's single-core and has a 73 Watt TDP.
This Intel 875p + ICH5R system with the Pentium 4 and Celeron processors was surprisingly still able to install Ubuntu 15.04 32-bit and was upgraded to the Linux 4.1 kernel to get close to the software stack of the other systems tested. When running Ubuntu 15.04, the Xfce desktop had to be used rather than the Unity desktop with Compiz window manager due to the ATI R200 graphics card choking with the desktop effects and compositing. With these processors from ~2003, they were compared to a variety of modern systems ranging from Intel Haswell Xeons and Core i7 EE systems to the low-power Intel Compute Stick to Intel Bay Trail and Broadwell NUCs to other x86 boxes. For making it really interesting, it was also compared to the NVIDIA Jetson TK1 with Tegra K1 quad-core Cortex-A15 SoC as well as a Freescale i.MX6 ARM board. On the following page is an overview of the data followed by all of the results.
Here's a teaser: