ZaReason Strata 6880 Sandy Bridge Notebook
While ZaReason is a Linux-focused desktop and laptop vendor, there are a few small compatibility items to note with this notebook. First of all, this notebook is affected by the ASPM power regression. Its BIOS is one of the many notebooks not properly advertising its support for PCI Express Active State Power Management. If you are using the Linux 2.6.38 through Linux 3.2 kernel, it means that the notebook can be burning through more power than it should. This can be fixed by setting the "pcie_aspm=force" kernel command-line option, but it was not done so by ZaReason. But frankly, with ZaReason shipping all PCs for open-source usage, if I were them I would have never based a Linux notebook off an OEM model that had a less than stellar BIOS. Fortunately, as of this month, there is a proper solution to the Linux ASPM problem but it is not going mainline until the Linux 3.3 kernel and it is unknown when it will be back-ported to stable kernels.
The only other Linux issue I had encountered was also power/ACPI related. Upon a clean install of Ubuntu 11.10, sometimes when going from AC to battery power, a warning would be emitted that the "laptop battery [is] critically low" and that the system will soon suspend unless it's plugged-in. Well, the battery was fully charged and continued to work fine but this warning had appeared several times when changing power states to battery. Aside from these two issues, the ZaReason Strata 6880 was working great on Linux. The notebook that ZaReason sent out had an Intel Core i7 2630QM (2.00GHz; quad-core plus Hyper Threading), 8GB of DDR3 system memory, 128GB Super Talent SSD, and NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M discrete graphics. Ubuntu 11.10 churned along nicely on the hardware with the Linux 3.0 kernel and proprietary NVIDIA Linux graphics driver.
This notebook was used for several benchmarking articles on Phoronix:
Multi-Core Scaling Performance Of AMD's Bulldozer - The Sandy Bridge notebook was used in this article that focused upon comparing the multi-core performance across several classes of Intel/AMD CPUs. In this article you can see how well the Core i7 2630QM in this notebook scales from one to eight threads.
LLVMpipe Benchmarks - Here you can see what happens if you try to offload the graphics work from the NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M to the Intel Sandy Bridge CPU using the Gallium3D LLVMpipe driver (not that you'd really want to for production use, but it's an interesting CPU test and for looking at LLVM optimizations).
GCC 4.6, LLVM/Clang 3.0, Open64 Benchmarks - A look at how well this notebook does with three of the leading open-source compilers for Linux.
Mobile Monitoring - OpenBenchmarking.org results of running several graphics tests while monitoring the system power consumption and other metrics.
VirtualBox OpenGL 3D Guest Performance - A look at running VirtualBox virtualization on the Sandy Bridge notebook while taking advantage of the "Chromium" guest Linux OpenGL acceleration that passes the API calls onto the host's driver stack.
FreeBSD 9.0 Benchmarks - PC-BSD/FreeBSD 9.0 benchmarks of this Intel Sandy Bridge system.
Xen vs. KVM vs. VirtualBox - A Linux virtualization roundabout from this ZaReason notebook.
ZaReason Sandy Bridge - Dozens of Linux benchmarks that I ran from this notebook on OpenBenchmarking.org.
Overall, it is an interesting notebook from ZaReason/Compal that can be configured to suit your price and hardware/performance requirements. More information on the Strata 6880 and ZaReason's other products can be found at ZaReason.com. Using OpenBenchmarking.org you can also compare all of these benchmark results against the thousands of other systems in conjunction with the Phoronix Test Suite.
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