Building The Linux Kernel In 60 Seconds
Besides finishing up the Phoronix Test Suite 3.6-Arendal release this weekend, on Saturday I began running some new Intel CPU benchmarks. In building the Linux 3.1 kernel for x86_64 in a default configuration (make defconfig), I've now managed to trim down the compile time to less than sixty seconds on a single-socket desktop system. Similar speeds can be achieved out of multi-socket servers and other configurations, but this is the first time I'm seeing such kernel build speeds out of a single processor -- the AMD FX-8150 Bulldozer doesn't come close.
What's the magic behind this? Unfortunately it's not due to some crazy new compiler optimizations for GCC (or LLVM/Clang would be more likely) or any magical change in the Linux kernel build infrastructure, but it's thanks to the Sandy Bridge Extreme Edition. The Intel Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition is one hell of a mighty processor.
Core i7 990X "Gulftown" Extreme Edition CPU that was Intel's thousand-dollar CPU up until now. The Intel Core i7 3960X was launched last month, but due to being out of the country, I didn't have a chance to play with Sandy-E until now. Intel sent out the i7-3960X, their flagship Intel X79 motherboard, and a water cooling system to Phoronix for some Linux testing.
OCZ Vertex 3 Serial ATA 3.0 solid-state drive, 16GB of RAM (quad-channel 4 x 4GB DDR3-1600MHz), and AMD Radeon HD 6950 Cayman graphics. On the software side I'm testing against an Ubuntu 12.04 LTS development snapshot with the Linux 3.2 kernel and GCC 4.6. In this configuration the Linux 3.1 kernel with its default config builds in just less than a minute (about 58 second average) -- that's without any overclocking!
Phoronix Test Suite / OpenBenchmarking.org / Phoromatic side for more interesting automated bisecting efforts of performance and functional regressions and automatically finding performance optimizations and other auto-tuning tasks. Intel Core i7 3960X packs a hell of a punch, its TDP is only 130 Watts (5 Watts more than AMD's FX-8150 Bulldozer and the same thermal rating as the previous-generation Core i7 990X Gulftown), but its price-tag of $1050 USD will keep it out of the hands of most Linux desktop users.