Ubuntu Now Often Leads Windows 7 On Intel SNB Graphics Performance

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 29 January 2014. Page 1 of 5. 22 Comments

Most of our recent Windows vs. Linux performance comparisons have been done using Windows 8 (e.g. AMD Kaveri: Windows 8.1 vs. Ubuntu Linux, SteamOS vs. Windows 8.1, NVIDIA GTX TITAN: Windows 8.1 vs. Ubuntu 13.10, etc). However, for changing things up a bit and looking also at the state of mature graphics drivers, being benchmarked today is the Ubuntu 14.04 Linux performance with the latest open-source Intel HD Graphics driver code compared to Windows 7 Pro x64 with its latest Intel graphics driver when using HD Graphics 3000 "Sandy Bridge" hardware.

Prior this testing, our most recent cross-OS Intel testing looking at the OpenGL performance was last year when the Intel Linux driver was almost neck-and-neck with Windows 8.1 for Haswell hardware while prior to that the cross Intel driver performance was mixed. Not having tested Windows 7 in a while or any Sandy Bridge CPUs with most of our fun these days being had with Ivy Bridge and Haswell, this comparison should be interesting.

On the Microsoft side we had Windows 7 Professional x64 Service Pack 1 with all available updates as of a few days ago. The Intel Windows 7 driver in use for the HD Graphics 3000 support was the driver, which was their latest at the time of testing and released in mid-November. On the Linux side was Ubuntu 13.10. The Intel Sandy Bridge performance was tested in its "out of the box" configuration with the Linux 3.11 kernel and Mesa 9.2.1 driver. The Ubuntu configuration was then tested when upgrading to the Linux 3.13 kernel and lastly when using the Linux 3.13 kernel plus Mesa 10.1-devel packages for the very latest open-source Intel graphics experience and similar to what will ship in the Ubuntu 14.04 release in the months ahead.

All benchmarking was handled via the Phoronix Test Suite. The system used for all of this testing was an HP EliteBook 161C that had served as one of Intel's Software Development Platforms for Sandy Bridge. The laptop boasts an Intel Core i5 2520M (2.50GHz / 3.20GHz Turbo; ignore the clock speed reported differences in the PTS system table due to the different CPUfreq driver used by the different kernels), 4GB of RAM, 160GB Intel SSD, and HD Graphics 3000. All of the same hardware was used throughout the entire testing process.

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