Running PC-BSD/FreeBSD 9.1 On Intel's Core i7 Haswell
In the two months since the launch of Intel's Haswell processors there's been a lot of coverage on Phoronix for this latest-generation hardware under Linux, including some of Windows and OS X too, but no BSD testing yet. That has now changed with our first report of using PC-BSD / FreeBSD 9.1 on an Intel Core i7 4770K.
Since the early June launch of the Haswell processors, there's been a ton of Linux-focused articles and testing. I've also done OS X tests on the 2013 MacBook Air and most recently was the Windows 8 vs. Ubuntu Linux Haswell comparison. Now having most of the important testing complete for Haswell, this week I began exploring FreeBSD 9.1 (PC-BSD 9.1) on my primary i7-4770K Haswell system.
Overall, FreeBSD 9.1 on the Core i7 4770K system was mostly successful, but there's some caveats to point out:
- When booting the PC-BSD 9.1 AMD64 DVD, none of the USB devices (keyboard / mouse) were working. The LEDs on the keyboard and Razer mouse didn't even light up. After trying out a few different things, I ended up discovering that if disabling the "legacy USB" support from the Intel UEFI, USB would work fine. With the Legacy USB support from the UEFI disabled, FreeBSD 9.1 worked just fine with the USB devices on the Intel H87 motherboard. The motherboard used for this Core i7 4770K BSD testing was the Intel DH87RL.
- FreeBSD 9.1 introduced Intel Kernel Mode-Setting support for Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs with HD graphics. Unfortunately, there isn't yet any mainline Intel Haswell KMS/DRM driver support in the FreeBSD kernel. The Intel KMS driver on FreeBSD is ported from the Linux kernel and unfortunately (as far as I know) the Haswell code still won't be present in the upcoming FreeBSD 9.2 release. If you need accelerated graphics on a BSD Haswell system, you're best off installing a NVIDIA discrete graphics card.
- With the Intel DH87RL motherboard, its Gigabit Ethernet Controller wasn't detected with the FreeBSD 9.1 kernel. I then tried using a Medalink USB 802.11g WiFi adapter for obtaining network access, but then it was discovered this USB network adapter causes the kernel to panic and the system reboots. I then tried the Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 AGN. To some surprise, this Intel 802.11g/802.11n PCI Express wireless adapter had worked "out of the box" on PC-BSD/FreeBSD 9.1! It's nice to see this newer WiFi adapter working fine on the latest FreeBSD stable code.
- As a benefit to FreeBSD, when shutting down the system with the DH87RL motherboard it actually powers off the system -- compared to as reported in the Intel H87 motherboard review, with any recent Linux kernel release going to "shutdown" simply means rebooting the system.
Aside from those "gotchas", it's been fine getting PC-BSD 9.1 x86_64 up and running on the Intel Core i7 4770K Haswell system. Stay tuned for FreeBSD Intel Core i7 benchmarks coming soon on Phoronix.
Coming as soon as tomorrow on Phoronix will be Linux vs. Windows 8 vs. FreeBSD OpenGL gaming benchmarks! It's similar to the testing done previously with FreeBSD's Linux binary compatibility layer that led to FreeBSD: A Faster Platform For Linux Gaming Than Linux?
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