With the Linux 2.6.32 kernel being released in a few days, we found it time to benchmark this newest kernel release that brings new drivers, kernel mode-setting improvements, virtualization enhancements, and more.
Our test system was a Lenovo ThinkPad T60 notebook with an Intel Core Duo T2400 processor clocked at 1.83GHz, a Intel 945GM + ICH7-M motherboard, 1GB of system memory, an 80GB HTS541080G9SA00 SATA HDD, and an ATI Radeon Mobility x1400 128MB graphics processor. On the software side we were running Ubuntu 9.10 with the GNOME 2.28.1 desktop, X Server 1.6.4, xf86-video-radeon 6.12.99, Mesa 7.6, GCC 4.4.1, and an EXT4 file-system. For this testing we benchmarked the Linux 2.6.30, 2.6.31, and 2.6.32-rc8 kernel releases.
The Phoronix Test Suite was used for running a number of tests on these three kernel releases, including 1080p H.264 video playback, Tremulous, Apache, PostgreSQL, C-Ray, x264, IOzone, PostMark, and NAS Parallel Benchmarks.
Starting by looking at the CPU usage during the playback of a 1080p H.264 video file, the Linux 2.6.32 kernel had the lowest overall CPU usage when using X-Video with MPlayer. However, the CPU usage was only less by 2%.
We next ran the ioquake3-based Tremulous game at six different resolutions, but between the Linux 2.6.30 and 2.6.32 kernels the frame-rate was virtually unchanged. The Linux 2.6.31 kernel was not tested as the system would freeze when running this test profile.
Looking at the Apache test profile results, there is a large performance hit with the Linux 2.6.32 kernel. This is due to a change in the Linux 2.6.32 kernel for the EXT4 file-system, which is described in Autonomously Finding Performance Regressions In The Linux Kernel.