While the N270, Intel's first-generation Atom processor for netbooks, is over four years old, the performance of this low-power CPU that wound up being found in a lot of netbook/nettops continues to improve under Linux -- well, sans a few regressions. Here are some benchmarks highlighting the performance changes when going from Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and then lastly a development snapshot of the forthcoming Ubuntu 12.10.
The Intel Atom N270 has since been succeeded by newer Intel Atom processors that offer greater performance-per-Watt, this original 1.6GHz "Diamondville" processor has seen performance improvements throughout its life since the chip's debut in early 2008. These performance improvements largely come down to optimizations that have taken place over the past four years within GCC (the GNU Compiler Collection), the Linux kernel, and Intel's open-source graphics driver. These results are just examining the performance of this first-generation Intel Atom netbook going back to early 2010 when Ubuntu 12.04 LTS was introduced, even in this two-year time-span many performance improvements can be spotted.
The netbook for this testing was a Samsung NC10 with an Intel Atom N270 (1.60GHz single-core with Hyper Threading), Intel 945 chipset with integrated graphics, 2GB of RAM, and a 32GB OCZ Core SSD. Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 12.10 2012-06-24 were all benchmarked with their stock packages/settings.