The Fastest Linux OS For AMD Ryzen Zen 3? It's Still Intel Clear Linux
As we have shown with prior AMD Ryzen and EPYC processors, the Linux distribution generally offering the fastest out-of-the-box performance is Intel's Clear Linux platform. Given there aren't many other distributions as aggressively optimizing their default package set and engaging in features like AutoFDO, PGO, and various out-of-tree patches in the name of modern Intel x86_64 Linux performance -- and in turn, AMD performance benefits as well -- Clear Linux really shines with modern hardware. Testing of the latest Clear Linux with a Ryzen 9 5900X continues to delivering promising performance compared to the likes of Fedora, openSUSE, Manjaro, Debian, and Ubuntu.
Today's AMD Zen 3 benchmarking is looking at the performance of Clear Linux 34100 against Fedora Workstation 33, openSUSE Tumbleweed, Manjaro Linux 20.2, Debian Testing, and Ubuntu 20.10.
Going into this testing I wasn't sure if Clear Linux would remain the top contender on AMD Zen 3. Given we haven't closely compared Clear Linux to the recent round of autumn/winter 2020 Linux distributions. Additionally, Clear Linux hasn't been reporting many new advancements recently -- the project's blog not touched since July and their Twitter eerily quiet since April. But even aside from that, their releases are much less frequent than before. Previously this rolling-release distribution was known for "releasing" new images up to several times per day while more recently it's been maybe once a week or a few times per week. Earlier this year the Intel engineers working on it also announced they were effectively divesting from the desktop to focus on server and cloud workloads. A vanilla GNOME desktop remains available and other desktop packages, but they are more focused now on just delivering cloud/server/edge performance, so it's less relevant these days as well directly to Ryzen desktop users.
In any case, with Clear Linux, Fedora Workstation, openSUSE Tumbleweed, Manjaro 20.2, Debian Testing, and Ubuntu 20.10 I tested them all with fresh installs and updates on the same system under test for seeing how the out-of-the-box Linux performance compares. The test system used was the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X at stock speeds, ASUS CROSSHAIR VIII HERO motherboard, 16GB of AM, 1TB Sabrent Rocket 4.0 NVMe SSD, and Radeon RX 5600 XT graphics.
Via the Phoronix Test Suite dozens of different benchmarks were carried out.