While there's still over three months to go until Ubuntu 12.10 "Quantal Quetzal" will be officially released, for many computers this release will be faster than its predecessor, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.
There's much time left until Ubuntu 12.10 will be released in October, but already there is a number of performance improvements to be found. Earlier this month I showed that Ubuntu 12.10 Sets To Make ARM Even Stronger with better ARMv7 performance, but x86/x86_64 also has some benefits too. These improvements mostly come to upstream work outside of Canonical, but there are some Ubuntu-specific improvements such as with the Unity desktop performance fixes.
The brief testing done in this article to provide a glimpse at what is to come was done from an Intel Core i7 "Ivy Bridge" system.
The Ubuntu 12.10 daily ISO as of 22 June 2012 was used for testing. Right now Ubuntu 12.10 components include the Linux 3.5 kernel, Unity 5.12, X.Org Server 1.11.3, xf86-video-intel 2.19.0 (among other DDX driver updates), Mesa 8.0.3, and GCC 4.7.
Ubuntu 12.10 may end up using the Linux 3.6 kernel, which will hopefully be the case. I really hope they will make the smart decision of going with the Linux 3.6 kernel due to a number of improvements in different sub-systems that are on the horizon. The upgrade from Linux 3.2 (Ubuntu 12.04) to Linux 3.5 already provides some performance improvements and new features.
Yet to be pulled into Ubuntu 12.10, but will come soon, is X.Org Server 1.12 and Mesa 8.1. The Mesa 8.1 pull will immediately provide more OpenGL functionality, new features (e.g. Clover, VDPAU state tracker enhancements, etc), and some performance improvements for certain hardware.
The other big difference with Ubuntu 12.10 is upgrading to GCC 4.7 from 4.6. GCC 4.7 was released in time for Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, but they stuck with the more mature release for this Long Term Support version. GCC 4.7 has better language support, many performance improvements, and other new features.
Anyhow, let's see what the Ubuntu 12.04 vs. Ubuntu 12.10 performance looks like right now from the Intel Core i7 quad-core system with Hyper Threading.