The Ubuntu Linux Performance Over The Past Six Years On An Intel Xeon Server

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 3 October 2018 at 07:43 AM EDT. Page 1 of 6. 8 Comments.

In needing to make some room in the racks for some new hardware and some other interesting platforms on the way, I've retired the last of the Intel Nehalem era hardware at Phoronix that was still used for occasional historical Linux performance tests... I decided to take this Sun Microsystems SunFire X4170 server with dual Intel Xeon E5540 (Nehalem EP) processors for a final spin before pulling it from the racks. Here is a look at how the near-final Ubuntu 18.10 Linux performance compares to that of Ubuntu 12.10.

The Xeon E5540 as a refresher is a quad-core part with Hyper Threading to yield eight threads per processor. These 45nm processors are clocked at 2.53GHz with a 2.80GHz turbo frequency and have a 80 Watt TDP. These two processors in the SunFire X4170 were paired with 36GB of DDR3 RAM, and eight 300GB Hitachi SAS drives (though for this testing was just using a single disk). The performance test was going back to Ubuntu 12.10 as both Ubuntu 10.04.0 LTS and 12.04.0 LTS had problems booting on this platform without crashing even though these Nehalem EP processors are from 2009.

Ubuntu 12.10 with its Linux 3.5 kernel and GCC 4.7.2 compiler and other default software components were run as the baseline for this comparison. The Ubuntu 18.10 daily ISO snapshot from its beta freeze was used for seeing the current Linux performance on this hardware with the Linux 4.18 kernel, EXT4 file-system, and GCC 8.2 default compiler.

2 x Intel Xeon E5540 - Ubuntu 12.10 vs. Ubuntu 18.10

Additionally, an extra run on Ubuntu 18.10 was done when disabling the Spectre and Meltdown mitigations on the Linux 4.18 kernel for seeing the performance impact of those current mitigations on this Nehalem hardware. All of these Linux benchmarks were carried out in a fully-automated and reproducible manner using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software.

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