Running Fedora 20 On Intel's Core i7 Haswell-E Platform

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 22 September 2014. Page 1 of 3. 1 Comment

Now with having many Ubuntu tests on the Intel Core i7 5960X under the belt, I've been spending time seeing how well this Haswell-E processor with Intel X99 motherboard works for other Linux distributions. For Fedora 20, the $1000+ processor setup will work but you surely want to install all of the latest stable package updates.

Installing Fedora 20 on the i7-5960X + Gigabyte X99-UD4 motherboard was overall straight-forward, but the one major snafu ran into was the lack of the Gigabit Ethernet working under Fedora 20. Fedora 20 is nearly one year old and running off the Linux 3.11 kernel, which is far too old for supporting the network ASIC on this X99 motherboard. To workaround this issue I downloaded the latest stable kernel in the Fedora 20 Updates repository (Linux 3.16) and copied the RPM over to the system using a USB flash drive. Once installing the stable Linux 3.16 F20 update, the networking on the Gigabyte motherboard was working.

Benchmarking in the new Phoronix office.

Installing the Fedora 20 updates on the Core i7 5960X system will also cause a change in the CPU scaling driver. The stock F20 Linux 3.11 kernel uses ACPI CPUFreq Ondemand for this eight-core processor while upgrading to Linux 3.16+ will use the P-State driver. The Fedora 20 updated kernel was using the P-State driver now but using the powersave governor by default rather than the performance governor; see my Linux i7-5960X CPUFreq vs. P-State benchmarks from earlier this month.

Aside from those major notes, the Fedora 20 stack was running fine on the Intel Core i7 Haswell-E system. It's certainly recommended to immediately pull in all stable release updates after installing F20 on any new hardware. For this article I ran benchmarks of F20 out-of-the-box and then with all available updates as of 21 September. The system hardware was configured the same during testing (as usual, the reported CPU clock frequency differences just come down to the display differences between CPUFreq and P-State for base vs. turbo clock frequency reporting).

For some basic comparison purposes I also have in the performance numbers from an Ubuntu 14.04 snapshot that at the time was running off a Linux 3.17 Git kernel and Mesa 10.4-devel. The tests in this article are mostly centered on the CPU performance rather than graphics or other subsystems. All benchmarks on Ubuntu and Fedora were facilitated by the Phoronix Test Suite open-source benchmarking software. More interesting cross-distribution comparison tests are in the works for publishing in the days ahead.

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