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Intel Sandy Bridge On Fedora 15 Is Decent
For those Intel "Sandy Bridge" hardware customers that may be trying out the recent release of Fedora 15, the experience is decent and is in much better shape than the troubling support in Ubuntu 11.04. It is not in tip-top shape as there are some recent optimizations in the Linux kernel and Mesa that haven't landed in Fedora 15 (at least not yet in the form of an update), but it's suitable overall.
Installing Fedora 15 (x86_64) to the HP EliteBook 8460p that Intel sent over had went very well. This notebook is being used for per-commit Intel Linux driver benchmarking, but prior to that I've been running a few other Linux SNB tests under different environments. This Hewlett-Packard notebook has an Intel Core i5 2520M CPU, 160GB Intel SSD, 4GB of system memory, and Intel HD 3000 graphics.
Fedora 15 had worked fine "out of the box" on this notebook, complete with the GNOME Shell and its Mutter compositing working without fault. Fedora 15 is using Linux 2.6.38 and Mesa 7.11-devel, with various back-ports by Red Hat's engineers. Our usual platter of OpenGL Linux tests had also run fine on a stock Fedora 15 installation on this Sandy Bridge hardware without lock-ups or other problems.
The only downfall is that the OpenGL performance for Sandy Bridge on Fedora 15 is not most optimal compared to the latest upstream code, but that is not a hit against Fedora. Red Hat pushed the latest open-source Linux graphics code that was released as stable plus various sane back-ports. Had this latest Mesa 7.11 and Linux 2.6.39 kernel been released a bit sooner, Red Hat surely would have pulled those in. Some of this work may also end up being available as part of Fedora 15 updates, seeing as Red Hat handles the situation better than Canonical and other distribution vendors.
For reference on the following page are a few benchmarks comparing the performance of the stock Fedora 15 installation to that of Fedora 15 with all available updates from the official F15 updates and updates-testing repositories as of 25 May, to Ubuntu 11.04 with the Linux 2.6.39 kernel and Mesa 7.11-devel Git code, and from Microsoft Windows 7. These other results come from the recent Intel SNB Linux Driver Can Out Run Windows Driver article.