Up to this point when looking at the Intel Sandy Bridge performance and compatibility under Linux we have been using the Intel Core i5 2500K and Intel Core i7 2820QM. Last week though we received the Core i3 2100 (along with a Core i7 990X) from Intel and today are putting the low-end ~$125 USD Sandy Bridge processor through its paces under Linux.
The Intel Core i3 2100 is a dual-core Sandy Bridge part but is equipped with Hyper Threading to provide four threads. The i3-2100 is clocked at 3.1GHz and is equipped with 3MB of Intel Smart Cache. Like the other Sandy Bridge processors, the Intel Core i3 2100 is built on a 32nm process, supports SSE4.1/4.2 and AVX extensions, and boasts integrated Intel HD Graphics. What this lowest-end Sandy Bridge CPU lacks, however, is Turbo Boost Technology, Intel VT-d, and AES instruction support. The Intel Core i3 2100 has a 65-Watt TDP and has a retail price of around $125 USD.
In this article we are looking at the general CPU performance of the Intel Core i3 2100 under Linux. In another article shortly we will be looking at the Intel Linux graphics performance with this low-end Sandy Bridge.
This benchmarking of the 3.10GHz Intel Core i3 2100 dual-core with HT was tested on a Sapphire Pure Black P67 Hydra motherboard, 4GB of DDR3 system memory, 250GB Seagate ST3250310AS SATA HDD, and AMD Radeon HD 6870 graphics. The Core i3 2100 performance is being compared to a Core i5 2500K on the same system and then also to systems boasting an Intel Core i3 330M, Intel Core i3 370M, and Intel Core i3 530. On the AMD side was a Phenom II X3 710 system. The full hardware specification details are available in full on the OpenBenchmarking.org results page.
Ubuntu 10.10 x86_64 was used as the Linux distribution for testing but we upgraded to using the Linux 2.6.38 kernel. GCC 4.4.5 was the compiler in use with the EXT4 file-system. The Core i3 2100 Linux support situation remains the same as any other Sandy Bridge CPUs: it will work fine assuming you're running a relatively modern (Fedora 14, Ubuntu 10.10, openSUSE 11.4, etc) distribution. The big caveat though is if using the Sandy Bridge graphics where you need to be using the unreleased Ubuntu 11.04 or Fedora 15 for "out of the box" support or otherwise be building the Linux 2.6.37/2.6.38 kernel, Mesa 7.11-devel, and xf86-video-intel 2.14 from source or be using a third-party package repository for these key components.
Benchmarks with the Phoronix Test Suite included x264, FFmpeg, LAME MP3, 7-Zip compression, Parallel BZIP2, Bullet Physics, C-Ray, POV-Ray, Smallpt, HMMer, Minion, NAS Parallel Benchmarks, OpenSSL, GraphicsMagick, TTSIOD 3D Renderer, timed Apache compilation, and timed Linux kernel compilation. Our graphics benchmarks from an Intel H67 motherboard and the Intel i3 2100 will come shortly in another article.