Intel Core i5 11600K + Core i9 11900K Linux Performance Across ~400 Benchmarks
With Rocket Lake, the Linux support is all in order once again. But there is one sort of exception: the Gen12 Xe Graphics might not be working out-of-the-box depending upon your kernel. When I first booted up the Rocket Lake test system with Linux 5.12 + Mesa Git previously already installed, I was startled to find accelerated graphics not working... LLVMpipe was at play. This was a big surprise given Intel's track record and Gen12 Linux graphics support being out for a while now. Checking dmesg though quickly revealed that the PCI ID was still hidden behind the early support flag.
Re-booting the system while having "i915.force_probe=4c8a" avoided the issue and accelerated graphics were quickly working. All was well on both the i5-11600K and i9-11900K processors when booting the stable Linux kernel with the force_probe option. While the patch to remove Rocket Lake from requiring the force probe has been on the mailing list for several months, as of writing it hasn't landed in the stable upstream Linux kernel. At the moment that is queued into DRM-Next ahead of Linux 5.13... We'll see if one of the "fixes" pull request soon removes this restriction. Some distribution kernels including the likes of Ubuntu are already carrying the patch for providing the Rocket Lake support out-of-the-box.
So long story short, the Xe Graphics are ready to go for Linux users on sufficiently new kernels/Mesa, but you may end up needing to boot with the "i915.force_probe=4c8a" option in order to enable it for the time being. Once past that initial surprise, the Rocket Lake graphics were running fine for the past several weeks with my testing using Mesa 21.1-devel from the Oibaf PPA and Linux 5.11 and 5.12 Git. Those on Mesa 21.0 should also be fine while obviously the newer the Mesa and kernel generally means more performance and greater driver support, so in cases of new hardware especially: the newer the better.
With being very excited about finally having Gen12 replace Gen9 graphics on the desktop, let's first look at those Linux performance numbers before moving onto the larger CPU performance comparison.
Along with the Rocket Lake review samples, Intel also supplied the ASUS ROG MAXIMUS XIII HERO motherboard along with the latest development BIOS. The components used throughout all testing were Corsair 2 x 16GB DDR4-3600 memory, WD_BLACK SN850 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD storage, and the Radeon RX 6800 XT during the dGPU testing. Ubuntu 21.04 in its near final state was used for the latest Linux experience while running Linux 5.12 Git and Mesa 21.1-devel for the newest graphics driver stack. Dual fan Noctua NH-U9S coolers were used on all the test systems. As always, all of the CPUs under test were freshly re-tested for this launch article.