Lightsmark is also a big winner when running the latest Linux kernel code.
Not only is the performance much faster with the latest Linux kernel code and the not-yet-merged LLC caching patches, but in the Core i3 2100 and Core i5 2500K testing I haven't yet run into any regressions or other problems as a result of the new code. It will now be interesting to see how the Intel Linux performance compares to Windows when time allows.
While the improvements are nice, it will be a while before this new code is widespread. The Linux 2.6.39 kernel will not even be out until May and it will not be found in Fedora 15 or Ubuntu 11.04. Only after that will the LLC caching code be merged into Linux 2.6.40, which will then be released in July or August. Most users will be left waiting until the second half of 2011 when Ubuntu 11.10, Fedora 16, and other distributions hit their next rounds. Users can manually upgrade their kernel (and Mesa too, since Ubuntu 11.04 is using Mesa 7.10.x), but that is not advised for novice desktop users as it can cause repercussions in other areas of your system. Regardless, these performance improvements experienced for Intel Sandy Bridge within the open-source Linux driver and it will be interesting to see what other improvements are delivered.
As Sandy Bridge also provides VA-API H.264 video decoding support (and encoding support for Linux is also said to be coming soon), these newest Core i3/i5/i7 CPUs from Intel are turning out to be a very compelling offer for Linux users once all of the relevant code finally lands and is available to the masses.