Linux vs. Windows Performance Will Be All The More Interesting With Intel's Hybrid x86 Architecture
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 19 August 2020 at 05:48 PM EDT. 29 Comments
INTEL --
With Intel's Lakefield and the future Alder Lake with their hybrid x86 architecture mixing of "little" and "big" cores, operating system optimizations become all the more important and thus will be interesting to see how the battle is between Windows and Linux.

At last week's Intel Architecture Day there was one slide in particular calling out to the "OS optimizations" with hybrid architectures. In that context it was for Lakefield and the mentioned OS optimizations were on Windows.


For Intel client processors featuring a hybrid architecture, it will obviously be well optimized on Windows. On the Linux side, it will be interesting to see how it compares to Windows for power and performance. So far we haven't seen much in the way of Intel providing Lakefield-specific optimizations (in fact, on the Linux kernel side are only a few basic hits on "Lakefield") but Intel does invest a lot in general on power management for Linux as well as areas like their P-State CPU frequency scaling driver, transitioning now to the "Schedutil" governor by default, and many related areas like Linux kernel scheduler. The Linux kernel has also long supported Arm's big.LITTLE architecture and many features on that front like energy-aware scheduling and other tunables that may potentially see at least partial reuse with Intel's hybrid architecture play.

So far Intel's main Lakefield offering is the Core i5-L16G7 as a "large" Sunny Cove core and four Tremont cores with the main device to date using it being the Samsung Galaxy Book S. Due to not having any access to it and the severe budget constraints operating under at Phoronix due to continued ad-block users and COVID-19 impact, it's unlikely we will be able to pick one up for testing anytime soon. However, we'll continue to be on the lookout for OS optimizations around Lakefield or Intel's hybrid approach in general for Linux particularly as the more interesting Alder Lake approaches. We haven't seen much for Lakefield on Linux but given Alder Lake will be for desktops as well, we're likely to see greater Linux support/interest. It will certainly be interesting to see if Linux will shine better on such Intel hybrid CPUs or if Microsoft Windows will have the power/performance advantage.
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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 20,000 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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