Earlier this month Intel released their first "Sandy Bridge" processors to much excitement. However, for Linux users seeking to utilize the next-generation Intel HD graphics found on these new CPUs, it meant problems. Up to this point we have largely been looking at the graphics side of Sandy Bridge, and while we have yet to publish any results there due to some isolated issues, on the CPU side its Linux experience and performance has been nothing short of incredible. Here are the first Linux benchmarks of the Intel Core i5 2500K processor.
The Core i5 2500K is one of the Intel Sandy Bridge processors to launch earlier this month and it's a quad-core part without Hyper Threading that is clocked at 3.3GHz but has a maximum Turbo Frequency of 3.7GHz. The Core i5 2500K is equipped with 6MB of Intel Smart Cache, supports SSE 4.1 / SSE 4.2 and the new AVX extensions, is manufactured on a 32nm process like the other Sandy Bridge CPUs, and has a maximum TDP of 95 Watts. Its current retail price is just above $200 USD.
As we had not even received this Intel Core i5 CPU until days after its launch, chances are you are already well familiar with the Sandy Bridge micro-architecture from the other publications that received the processors in advance. With that said, in this article we will thus focus upon our primary interest and that is the Linux support and performance.
Aside from the problems we and others have encountered concerning the support using the integrated graphics, the rest of our Sandy Bridge Linux experience has been nothing but phenomenal. There has been no issues of encountering kernel panics or other odd behavior like we have experienced on some select instances in the past when utilizing brand new CPUs under Linux. The new Intel chipsets required for Sandy Bridge support, which right now are the H67 and P67, are also playing well with modern Linux distributions.
So far there's been three Sandy Bridge motherboards tested at Phoronix and they have all worked just fine with Linux aside from the usual caveat of LM_Sensors not supporting the motherboard's sensors and also with USB 3.0 support at times being finicky.
For today's Core i5 2500K benchmarking under Linux it was done with Ubuntu 10.10 using the stock components like GNOME 2.32.0, X.Org Server 1.9.0, GCC 4.4.5, and an EXT4 file-system, but installing a vanilla Linux 2.6.37 kernel for ensuring the most recently declared stable Sandy Bridge code. The i5 2500K was tested with an ASRock P67 Pro3 motherboard having 2GB of OCZ DDR3-1333MHz memory, an OCZ 60GB Vertex 2 SSD, and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 768MB graphics card. The binary NVIDIA 260.19.29 driver was used with the GeForce GTX 460 graphics card under Linux.
This processor was tested not only at its stock 3.3GHz / Turbo 3.7GHz speed but also when overclocked to 4.00GHz and then again when it was overclocked to 4.20GHz. The processors we had available for comparison in this testing were an Intel Core i5 750 (2.67GHz Quad-Core), Intel Core i7 870 (2.67GHz Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading), Intel Core i7 920 (2.67GHz Quad-Core + Hyper-Threading), and Intel Core i7 970 (3.20GHz Six-Core + Hyper-Threading). Besides switching out the CPUs, the other principal components remained the same except for also having to switch out the motherboards for socket/chipset differences. The i5 750 and i7 870 were used in conjunction with the ECS P55H0A motherboard while the i7 920 and i7 970 had the ASRock X58 SuperComputer.
Via the latest Phoronix Test Suite 3.0 "Iveland" and OpenBenchmarking.org code we ran the following test profiles across this spectrum of Intel Core processors under Linux: World of Padman, 7-Zip, Parallel BZIP2 Compression, Himeno, Bullet, C-Ray, POV-Ray, Smallpt, HMMer, Minion, NAS Parallel Benchmarks, timed Apache compilation, timed Linux kernel compilation, CLOMP, OpenSSL, x264, PostgreSQL, and Apache.