The SQLite database library is used by many software projects including Mozilla Firefox and Skype, including a number of Apple products. SQLite is extensively used in Mac OS X as well as with the iPhone and iPod Touch. Mac OS X was superior to Ubuntu in SQLIte 3.6.3 when measuring the time to perform 12,500 database row insertions. Mac OS X 10.5.5 was over four times faster at performing these SQL database operations than Ubuntu x86 and x86_64. The read and write XML performance using our PHP-driven test was much closer between Leopard and Intrepid, but the x86_64 Ubuntu had won both tests.
We ended out our Mac OS X and Ubuntu comparison with several Java tests. In Sunflow, which is a global illumination and image synthesis engine with a ray-tracing core, Mac OS X and its Sun Java 1.5 stack was over 40% faster than Ubuntu 8.10 in conjunction with IcedTea providing Java 1.6. The Java performance in Mac OS X was similarly faster when using Bork as a file encryption benchmark. Completing the benchmarks, Ubuntu was faster in its Java computational performance with the Java version of SciMark 2.0 in FFT (Fast Fourier Transform), SOR (Successive Over-Relaxation), and composite tests.
Apple's Mac OS X 10.5.5 "Leopard" had strong performance leads over Canonical's Ubuntu 8.10 "Intrepid Ibex" in the OpenGL performance with the integrated Intel graphics, disk benchmarking, and SQLite database in particular. Ubuntu on the other hand was leading in the compilation and BYTE Unix Benchmark. In the audio/video encoding and PHP XML tests the margins were smaller and no definitive leader had emerged. With the Java environment, Sunflow and Bork were faster in Mac OS X, but the Intrepid Ibex in SciMark 2 attacked the Leopard. These results though were all from an Apple Mac Mini.
Going forward it will be interesting to see how the performance of Ubuntu and Mac OS X evolve on the desktop. Apple is investing significant resources to make Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" a cleaner and higher performing operating system. Mac OS X 10.6 is reported to have a smaller hard drive and memory footprint, 64-bit kernel enhancements, and other changes that improve performance and efficiency. Mac OS X 10.6 is expected to ship sometime towards the middle of 2009.
While Apple is working on Snow Leopard, Canonical and the open-source community have already begun development on Ubuntu 9.04 "Jaunty Jackalope". Ubuntu 9.04 will follow the traditional six-month release cycle and be released in April of 2009. Features of Ubuntu 9.04 include better web services integration, improved boot performance, and hopefully other performance optimizations. We will be sure to have a face-off between Mac OS X 10.6 and Ubuntu 9.04 when the time comes.