How Well Modern Linux Games Scale To Multiple CPU Cores
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 6 March 2017. Page 1 of 6. 62 Comments

With all the discussions about AMD's Ryzen 7 processors that boast eight cores plus SMT, there has been much discussion in our forums and elsewhere the past few days about how many cores most modern Linux games actually utilize... That plus with looking at how well Ryzen's CPU cores scale, I have carried out some fresh Linux CPU core scaling benchmarks with an Intel Core i7 6800K Broadwell-E to see if most Linux games can end up using 4+ cores right now.

From the BIOS on the MSI X99A WORKSTATION motherboard, Hyper Threading can be toggled along with individual CPU cores. I used this for running Linux OpenGL/Vulkan gaming benchmarks at 1 core, 2 cores, 3 cores, 4 cores, 5 cores, 6 cores, and then six cores plus Hyper Threading -- the default configuration of the Intel Core i7 6800K. I used the i7-6800K for being a mature, well-supported platform to see the scaling potential out of modern Linux games and potentially what we can see from Ryzen as that platform support matures in the months ahead.

A NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN X Maxwell was used during benchmarking with the NVIDIA 378.13 and it was running at its stock speeds during the entire testing process.

In addition to looking at the raw frame-rate performance of various Linux games, thanks to the test automation via the Phoronix Test Suite, the CPU usage was also plotted as well as the GPU utilization reported via the NVIDIA binary driver. As some additional data, the RAM usage was also recorded. All of this can be done with the Phoronix Test Suite by simply setting the MONITOR=cpu.usage,memory.usage,gpu.usage environment variable prior to running any Phoronix Test Suite benchmark.

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