Linux 4.14 vs. 4.20 Performance Benchmarks - The Kernel Speed Difference For 2018
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 18 December 2018 at 08:13 AM EST. 10 Comments
As some additional end-of-year kernel benchmarking, here is a look at the Linux 4.14 versus 4.20 kernel benchmarks on the same system for seeing how the kernel performance changed over the course of 2018. Additionally, Linux 4.20 was also tested a second time when disabling the Spectre/Meltdown mitigations that added some performance overhead to the kernel this year.

On a Core i9 7980XE system, Linux 4.14.4 vs. 4.20 Git (with default Spectre/Meltdown mitigations and then again without) were benchmarked.

Here's a look at the portion of the many kernel benchmarks carried out:

I/O performance was lower on the Linux 4.20 kernel with these tests on EXT4 with an NVMe SSD. Even with disabling Spectre/Meltdown mitigations, in most cases the performance was still lower compared to this point last year.

Disabling these security measures did help in some I/O heavy workloads.

There were performance improvements to note in some of the CPU heavy tests.

But also some performance regressions.

Dozens more benchmark results from this Linux kernel comparison on the Core i9 system can be found via this result file.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of 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 automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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