Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS / 20.10 / 21.04 Performance On Intel Xeon Scalable Ice Lake
While there is more to consider when choosing a Linux distribution than just the out-of-the-box performance, for those curious about the performance of recent Ubuntu releases for running with Intel's new 3rd Gen Xeon Scalable "Ice Lake" processors, here are some benchmarks showing how the performance has improved from Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS to Ubuntu 20.10 and now the recent Ubuntu 21.04 Linux release.
With now having the dual Intel Xeon Platinum 8380 server for Linux testing, I've been working on a variety of interesting Linux/BSD benchmarks from this Ice Lake Xeon platform. As part of a larger Linux distribution comparison being conducted now, I ran tests of clean installs across Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS / 20.10 / 21.04 on this Intel reference server with the two Xeon Platinum 8380 processors, 512GB of RAM (16 x 32GB DDR4-3200), and Intel 3D XPoint DCP 5800X 800GB (SSDPF21Q800GB) NVMe SSD.
To little surprise given Intel's long history with Linux and with Ubuntu 20.04 being a Long Term Support release, all these recent Ubuntu builds of the past year ran fine with the new Intel Ice Lake server platform. In the case of using Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS with it having the hardware enablement stack of Ubuntu 20.10, it means the same Linux 5.8 kernel on both of those distributions. A key difference from Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS to Ubuntu 20.10 though is switching over from GCC 9.3 to GCC 10.2 as the default system compiler.
With the new Ubuntu 21.04 there is GCC 10.3 at play as the default system compiler and is making use of a Linux 5.11 based kernel. Ubuntu 21.04 also means Python 3.9 rather than Python 3.8 on its predecessors and various other package changes.
In any case today's benchmarks is just about looking at the out-of-the-box performance for the Xeon Platinum 8380 server across Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS to 20.10 to 21.04. Most server users will likely be using Ubuntu 20.04 due to its long-term support state and various enterprises and ISVs focused on that, but if you are okay with using non-LTS releases, in many instances Ubuntu 21.04 can deliver higher out-of-the-box performance.