With the Linux 2.6.30 kernel being prepped for release in early June, we have set out to provide a few benchmarks of this latest Linux kernel to see how it compares to its two earlier predecessors. While this new kernel may offer support for new file-systems (NILFS2, in particular), support for LZMA/BZIP2 kernel image compression, a new CPU architecture (Microblaze) and many other changes, are there any major performance regressions or improvements like we have spotted with our previous Linux kernel benchmarks?
The tests today are not nearly as extensive as some of our other kernel benchmarking, like when we benchmarked the Linux 2.6.24 through the 2.6.29 kernels, but is designed to give a quick overview of some of the performance differences in the latest Linux 2.6.30 kernel compared to the 2.6.28 and 2.6.29 releases. For our testing we used Linux 2.6.30-rc7 as we await the final release of this quarterly Linux update. It is expected there will be a Linux 2.6.30-rc8 kernel release next week followed by the final release at some point in early June. With the Linux 2.6.28, 2.6.29, and 2.6.30-rc7 kernels we obtained the x86_64 vanilla kernels from the Ubuntu mainline kernel PPA.
Our test system consisted of an Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 processor clocked at 4.00GHz, ASUS P5E64 WS Professional, 2GB of DDR3 memory, a 160GB Western Digital WD1600JS-00M SATA 2.0 hard drive, and an ATI Radeon HD 4890 graphics card. With the ATI Catalyst Linux driver not yet supporting the 2.6.29 or 2.6.30 kernel series, we were left without OpenGL acceleration during our testing so no gaming or graphics related tests could be run. Besides swapping out the kernel, the system was based upon Ubuntu 9.04 x86_64 with the GNOME 2.26.1 desktop environment, X Server 1.6.0, GCC 4.3.3, and was using the EXT3 file-system.
Providing us with the Linux kernel benchmarking support was the latest 2.0 "Sandtorg" release for the Phoronix Test Suite. The tests we used were contained within the kernel suite and consisted of 7-Zip compression, LAME MP3 encoding, GnuPG file encryption, timed MAFFT alignment, IOzone, Threaded I/O Tester, Dbench, dcraw, and Minion. There are over 100 test profiles within Phoronix Test Suite 2.0 and these tests are just a small portion of them.