Benchmarking OpenMandriva Lx 4.2 With Its AMD Zen Optimized Build

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 5 January 2021. Page 1 of 5. 8 Comments

While Intel has Clear Linux as an aggressively optimized Linux distribution catering towards their hardware, there isn't a direct equivalent for optimally showcasing the performance potential of current AMD platforms. Clear Linux often offers leading performance on Zen CPUs but that is obviously not by design but just an artifact of a lot in common between the latest Intel and AMD microarchitecture features. One of the few distributions (or only notable one) offering specific AMD Zen optimized builds has been OpenMandriva. With the OpenMandriva Lx 4.2 release candidate shipping this week, I ran some fresh benchmarks looking at how OpenMandriva Lx 4.2 RC1 compares between its generic x86_64 image and that of the Zen optimized build as well as in turn how that performance compares to Clear Linux and Ubuntu 20.10.

OpenMandriva's Zen optimized build amounts to compiling their install media and entire package archive with "-march=znver1" for catering the binaries being built for AMD Zen 1 and later rather than generic x86_64. Past testing of the Ryzen optimized build has yielded mixed results. With 4.2 it's still about just tweaking the compiler flags to Zen CPUs and not going to the lengths of Intel's Clear Linux in carrying extra patches, flipping on function multi-versioning / FDO / other compiler features, nor any other aggressive tuning beyond offering the Znver1 recompiled install media and having a specific "znver1" repository that carries all packages built for the Zen target.

Ryzen 9 5950X OpenMandriva

For this round of testing I ran benchmarks on the new AMD Ryzen 9 5950X for seeing how OpenMandriva Lx 4.2 RC1 compares between the x86-64 and Znver1 builds....

Ryzen 9 5950X OpenMandriva

Indeed, in many different workloads testing the packages on OpenMandriva, there were improvements from the "-march=znver1" build over generic x86-64 binaries. Generally it was 2~3% uplift, well below the ~10%+ normally seen on the likes of Clear Linux.

So let's look more at these results plus that of Clear Linux and Ubuntu 20.10 running on this same Ryzen 9 5950X system.

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