28-Way Linux CPU/System Comparison From Old To New
Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 8 May 2018. Page 1 of 1. 15 Comments

This week have been various unique and extra articles and benchmarks for commemorating the Phoronix 14th birthday. The latest of these fun articles is taking a look back at how various CPUs over the years compare to today's Intel Core and AMD Ryzen offerings.

Three years ago I did something similar with comparing the modern CPUs at the time to an old Intel Socket 478 system and power/performance compared to old NetBurst Celerons. This article isn't going back quite as far, but includes a much more diverse selection of hardware.

I unboxed most of the since retired Intel/AMD test systems that have seen better days and re-tested them using the latest Linux software stack to see how they perform now and compared to today's current Intel Skylake/Kabylake/Coffeelake and AMD Zen hardware.

It's quite a diverse range of hardware and basically used with what's available while mostly limiting it to low and high-end desktop hardware and foregoing any Xeon/Opteron/EPYC tests for this comparison, just desktop hardware for now.

And then compared those systems performance to many of the current systems racked up in the basement server room.

The software stack used for all of the systems was Ubuntu 18.04 LTS x86_64 but with manually upgrading to the Linux 4.17 kernel. Additionally, the "performance" P-State / CPUFreq scaling governor was enforced. Additionally, the CFLAGS/CXXFLAGS on each system were set to "-O3 -march=native" for building optimized binaries for each system under test as well as having upgraded to GCC 8.1. With the Linux 4.17 comes all of the relevant Spectre/Meltdown mitigation, which should be interesting particularly for some of these older systems.

The selection of processors that ended up being benchmarked included:

1: E-350
2: A6-7400K
3: A10-5800K
4: A10-7800
5: A10-7870K
6: Athlon II X3 425
7: FX-8350
8: Ryzen 5 2400G
9: Ryzen 5 2600
10: Ryzen 5 2600X
11: Ryzen 7 1700
12: Ryzen 7 1800X
13: Ryzen 7 2700
14: Ryzen 7 2700X
15: Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
16: Core 2 Duo E8400
17: Pentium G3258
18: Core i3 2100
19: Core i5 2400S
20: Core i5 7600K
21: Core i5 8400
22: Core i7 5960X
23: Core i7 7740X
24: Core i7 870
25: Core i7 8700K
26: Core i7 990X
27: Core i9 7900X
28: Core i9 7980XE

That selection was based upon the hardware as well as obvious time/resource constraints. Take the results as you wish, mostly it was driven out of my own personal curiosity and some fun benchmarking around the Phoronix anniversary. With that said, there are also obvious RAM/storage differences on some of the systems (as well as GPUs, though for this round of testing was basically all CPU focused).

Thanks to all of the benchmarking being driven in a fully-automated and reproducible manner using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite, you can easily compare your own Linux system(s) performance to all of the benchmarks found in this article. Simply install the Phoronix Test Suite on your Linux systems and then simply run phoronix-test-suite benchmark 1806083-AR-PHX14CPUS04 for your own fully-automated, side-by-side performance comparison to all of the data found in this article.

With Rodinia leveraging OpenMP, obviously this is a thread-happy benchmark. Fun to see the evolution of AMD/Intel processor performance over the years...

With the old systems, it could take easily about 10 minutes or more to build the Linux kernel... With the Intel Core i9 7980XE current-generation system that is down to just about 35 seconds!

It's a similar story when looking at the timed compilation performance of PHP.

This CPU-based renderer performance is also fun to see the progress with having used this CPU benchmark for many years and remembering when it would only run at dozens of frames per second.

The Assembly-written asmFish chess engine benchmark shows a great deal of performance evolution as well.

OpenSSL used to favor AMD CPU microarchitectures, but for current-generation hardware, Intel is running a fair amount faster.

Even 7-Zip compression will show a great deal of difference across the 28 systems tested.

The AOBench renderer is doing better with current-generation Intel CPUs over AMD Ryzen.

A look at the single-threaded FLAC audio encoding...

...and the MP3 encoding performance.

I also added in some newer test profiles after this initial comparison began, so for the remainder of the tests is just with a sub-set of the systems tested.

Including the Stockfish multi-threaded chess engine benchmark.

And Zstd compression performance.

The new m-queens test profile introduced recently.

Lastly for those wondering how the very basic C-written SciMark2 performance has evolved across some of these systems.

Beyond running this comparison out of curiosity and fun around the anniversary of starting Phoronix, the other large motivator for testing all these systems is if you want to see how your own system(s) compare. When you install the Phoronix Test Suite simply run phoronix-test-suite benchmark 1806083-AR-PHX14CPUS04 to facilitated your own side-by-side, fully-automated benchmark comparison.

About The Author
Author picture

Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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