Clear Linux Squeezed Out More Open-Source Performance In 2020

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 11 January 2021 at 12:37 PM EST. Page 1 of 4. 10 Comments.

Here is a look at how the performance of Intel's Clear Linux compares for the end of 2020 against the end of 2019 and 2018 on the same hardware platform for looking at the Intel performance optimizations made to this open-source Linux distribution. This was another year of Intel engineers making more headway on out-of-the-box Linux performance even though they have been less vocal about the project over the past year.

Even though 2020 brought Intel divesting away from Clear Linux on the desktop, a vanilla GNOME desktop experience and desktop installer do remain available. Their social media channels for Clear Linux have also been dark for a number of months too, but at least their engineers have continued working on impressive performance optimizations to this distribution delivering the fastest out-of-the-box Linux x86_64 experience on Intel (and AMD) systems.

In this article are benchmarks of the current state of Clear Linux compared to the end of 2019 and end of 2018 on the same platform. Due to needing the kernel support back to the end of 2018, a mature Intel Core i9 7980XE Skylake-X system was used for testing with the ASUS PRIME X299-A motherboard, 16GB of RAM, and Samsung 970 EVO 500GB NVMe SSD storage.

Over the past year Intel's Clear Linux went from Linux 5.4 to 5.10, GCC 9.2.1 to GCC 10.2.1, still continuing to use the EXT4 file-system but switched from the MQ-Deadline I/O scheduler to BFQ even for NVMe storage, Mesa 20.0-devel to Mesa 20.3.2, Python 3.8 to 3.9.1, and numerous other package upgrades. They also continued tweaking their default compiler flags and other patching and tuning in an effort to deliver the flagship Intel Linux performance experience.

Clear Linux 26970 for EOY2018, Clear Linux 31890 for EOY2019, and Clear Linux 34150 for EOY2020 were used for benchmarking across many different tests with the open-source Phoronix Test Suite.

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