Bulldozing through Linux benchmarks

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 09:15 AM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, FX 8150, linux

With the lacklustre performance we saw from AMD's new Bulldozer CPUs on Windows except in seriously multi-threaded applications; it is with a hopeful heart that Phoronix tests the performance of the FX-8150 under Ubuntu 11.04.  There are a lot of benchmarks to go through, from general performance to specific AMD-centric tests to those focusing specifically on multi-threaded performance and even a look at the bundled watercooler.  Read through the benchmarks they've run themselves as well as user submitted test and then realize that this is only the first of a series of articles they are working on ... so for now they hold judgment on AMD's newest product.

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"Two weeks ago AMD introduced the Bulldozer FX-Series CPUs to much excitement, although many were letdown by the initial results, and it was months after showing the first Linux benchmarks of an AMD Dual-Interlagos pre-production system. In the days that followed I delivered some initial AMD FX-4100 Linux benchmarks when securing remote access to a low-end Bulldozer system running Ubuntu 11.04 (and there were also some Linux benchmarks from independent Phoronix readers), but then last week a Bulldozer kit arrived from AMD. The centerpiece of this kit is an eight-core AMD FX-8150 CPU, which is now being used to conduct a plethora of AMD Bulldozer benchmarks on Linux."

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Source: Phoronix

Ivy Bridge will power three headed Linux powered monsters

Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2011 - 09:41 AM |
Tagged: Ivy Bridge, linux, multi monitor

Intel's Linux graphics driver is open source and the developers who work on it ensure that their code is publicly available which results in findings such as the one Phoronix is reporting on this morning.  While examining the Direct Rendering Manager kernel driver they discovered more information on the triple video output support that Ivy Bridge is supposed to support.  It seems that some Ivy Bridge motherboard will sport three DisplayPort outputs which can all be used simultaneously and others a pair of HDMI ports with a D-SUB connector making up the third output.  More importantly, because this was found in the Linux driver it becomes obvious that Intel intends to support multi-monitor output on Linux.  Watch out AMD.

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"Patches were made public by Intel yesterday for their Linux graphics driver that enable "Ivy Bridge" hardware to simultaneously drive three monitors. Thanks to Intel's Linux driver being open-source and their OSTC developers doing the hardware enablement work in public, there's some new details about this triple monitor support for the next-generation Ivy Bridge hardware."

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Source: Phoronix

Interrupting Oktoberfest to run Mesa benchmarks under Linux

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2011 - 10:56 AM |
Tagged: linux, mesa, HiZ, Intel, sandy bridge

Phoronix are dedicated to testing out the current limitations of Linux and the graphics performance Sandy Bridge is capable of, so much so that they abandoned the joys of Oktoberfest to test the new implementation of hierarchical Z support for Intel's Mesa DRI driver.  Specifically they wanted to see the improvements made to the performance of the graphical portion of a Core i5 2520M.  The new implementation did well, with improvements across the board though more impressive in some tasks that others.  Read on to see what you can expect from the new Mesa driver.

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"While there are still several days left of this year's Oktoberfest, to take a short break this morning from benchmarking the wonderful beer, food, and Bavarian females, here are benchmarks of the new Intel HiZ Linux support. Just a few days ago a new, nearly ready patch-set was published for implementing hierarchical Z support within Intel's Mesa DRI driver."

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Source: Phoronix

Solid State Penguin

Subject: Storage | September 6, 2011 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: vertex 3, ssd, SF-2281 controller, sata 6Gps, ocz, linux

The majority of reviews of solid state drives have been focussed on the performance of the drives under Windows, thankfully Phoronix can be counted on to differ from that and present a reveiw of an SSD under Linux.  This particular time it is the OCZ Vertex 3 240GB SSD under Ubuntu 11.10 with the Linux 3.0 kernel and an EXT4 file-system.  The OS had no problems recognizing the drive and it is obvious that Linux has no problems fully utilizing the SATA 6Gb/s interface as the drive blows the competition out of the water.  The only problem is that the price of the drive remains prohibitive no matter what OS you use, but your money will not be wasted.

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"It's been a while since last providing a Phoronix review of a solid-state drive from OCZ Technology, but now with Serial ATA 3.0 support becoming more prevalent on modern Intel and AMD motherboards, they have been releasing a number of updated products to take advantage of SATA 3.0. In the review we have our hands on an OCZ Vertex 3 240GB SSD as we see how this SATA III SSD performs under Ubuntu Linux."

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Source: Phoronix

Llano on Linux, good but not good enough

Subject: Processors | August 22, 2011 - 09:06 AM |
Tagged: amd, linux, llano, a8-3850

Phoronix is still satisfying their curiosity about the performance of Llano under Linux.  To that end they assembled an A8-3850 with Gigabyte's GA-A75M-UD2H motherboard, 2GB of DDR3 memory, and a 60GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD and installed Ubuntu 11.04 64-bit, GNOME 2.32.1, X.Org Server 1.10.1, and an EXT4 file-system.  To power the system they had a few choices but unfortunately the one they were most interested in, AMD's Open64 4.2.4, failed to compile.  That left them with two versions of GCC and Clang to test in a variety of benchmarks.  There is still some work to do to bring all of the power of Llano to Linux, but for now this will give you a good idea which to use.

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"Last week were a set of AMD Fusion A8-3850 Linux benchmarks on Phoronix, but for you this week is a look at the AMD Fusion "Llano" APU performance when trying out a few different compilers. In particular, the latest GCC release and then using the highly promising Clang compiler on LLVM, the Low-Level Virtual Machine."

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Source: Phoronix

64 Bit Flash Support Returns To Linux With Flash Player 11

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2011 - 11:50 PM |
Tagged: linux, flash, Adobe

Linux, once the beholder of 64 bit versions of the Adobe Flash plug-in, has been without any form of 64 bit support for the past few iterations (since version 10.1 to be more specific); however, Adobe has finally reinstated support for the 64 bit Linux version with the newly announced Adobe Flash Player 11 Beta. Currently only available on the desktop (Adobe claims the mobile version is coming soon), the new beta brings a new method of 2D and 3D rendering dubbed the Stage 3D API. This new API uses GPU-acceleration to speed up rendering across “multiple screens and devices.” Support for H.264/AVC SW camera encoding and Native JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) are also features of the beta.

flashlinux.png

The announcement also briefly covers the improved security measures, specifically those that relate to GPU-acceleration. The new Stage 3D rendering API includes a new simple shader language dubbed AGAL (Adobe Graphics Assembly Language) that prohibits loops or functions inside shaders. Further, Adobe has added restrictions to the API to limit the number of calls per frame in an attempt to mitigate DDoS attacks.

The new desktop beta is available now for download. 64 bit Linux users rejoice, for the necessary evil that is Flash has returned to you.

Source: Adobe

SandyBridge graphics performance showdown; Linux versus Win7

Subject: Processors | July 13, 2011 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: linux, windows, ostc, SBNA, sandybridge

In the first showdown that Phoronix tried, the Linux driver for Intel's HD3000 iGPU beat out the Win7 driver handily.  That win was due to the OSTC Linux engineers at Intel doing a bang up job on the Linux drivers, while the Windows team lagged behind a bit.  A few months have passed and the laggards on the Windows team have since released a major update to their drivers, necessitating Phoronix to repeat the test.  Unfortunately for them the Linux team has also released improvements, specifically "Sandy Bridge New Acceleration".  Can the Windows team retake the lead, or should you switch to OpenGL games on Linux? Read on to see.

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"The new benchmarks going out today on Phoronix are looking at the performance of Intel's Sandy Bridge graphics with the latest Microsoft Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux drivers. Not only are we using the very latest drivers, but there is also a separate Linux test run with SNA, the "Sandy Bridge New Acceleration" architecture enabled."

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Source: Phoronix

Linux has been having power management problems and this is why

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2011 - 10:49 AM |
Tagged: linux, ASPM, battery

The recent release of the 2.6.38 Linux kernel has lead to many complaints from mobile users who find their battery life noticably reduced.  Phoronix noticed the issue a while back but until now had not completed enough investigation to be able to pinpoint the cause.  With the arrival of a power monitor they are now willing to point a finger at Active-State Power Management for PCI Express and BIOS compatibility as the cause.  While the desktop users enjoy an increase in speed in certain applications that require their PCIe lanes to be going full out, mobile users notice the drain on the battery as the PCIe lanes take as much power as they can whether they need it or not.  For mobile users whose top priority is power savings, it is recommended that you stick with a pre-2.6.35 kernel as there are also power issues related to that build.  Phoronix does offer a possible solution for some users in their article if you do need to use the latest build.

Battery.jpg

"Mobile users are urged to seriously consider these results, and possibly even avoid the Natty Narwhal...I hate to say it, especially in an Ubuntu review, but the mobile edge goes to Windows for now...There are also compelling reasons for folks to avoid [Ubuntu 11.04] at all costs. Linux gamers should see substantial improvements, while mobile users suffer a dramatic loss in battery life," were among the critical comments that Tom's Hardware had in their Ubuntu 11.04 review as they were referencing the power regressions I discovered nearly two months ago within the mainline Linux kernel. As I mentioned on Sunday, the Phoronix Test Suite stack and I have now nailed this major power regression in the Linux 2.6.38 kernel that is affecting a significant number of mobile Linux users. Here is what is happening and a way that you should be able to workaround the serious regression should it affect your computer system(s)."

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Source: Phoronix

Intel learns from Sandy Bridge mistakes, but is it enough?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | June 24, 2011 - 10:13 AM |
Tagged: linux, Ivy Bridge, Intel

Back when Sandy Bridge launched, Intel had some difficulty with Linux compatibility due to their support software not being available long enough ahead of launch for distribution developers to roll it in to their releases. As a result, users purchasing Sandy Bridge hardware would be in for a frolic in the third-party repositories unless they wished to wait four or five months for their distributions to release their next major version. This time Intel is pushing code out much earlier though questions still remain if they will fully make Ubuntu’s 11.10 release.

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You mean there's Intel... inside me?

Intel came down hard on themselves for their Sandy Bridge support. Jesse Barnes, an open-source Linux developer at Intel, posted on the Phoronix Forums his thoughts on the Sandy Bridge Linux issue:

"No, this is our job, and we blew it for Sandy Bridge. We're supposed to do development well ahead of product release, and make sure distros include the necessary code to get things working … Fortunately we've learned from this and are giving ourselves more time and planning better for Sandy Bridge's successor, Ivy Bridge."

Now, six months later as support for Ivy Bridge is getting released and rolled into their necessary places, Intel appears to be more successful than last time. Much of the code that Intel needs to release for Ivy Bridge is already available and rolled in to the Linux 3.0 kernel. A few features missed the deadline and must be rolled in to Linux 3.1 kernel. While Phoronix believes that Fedora 16 will still be able to roll in support in time it is possible that Ubuntu 11.10 may not unless the back-port the changes to their distribution. That is obviously not something Intel would like to see happen given all their extra effort of recent.

Source: Phoronix

Su ^u Sudo ^u Vsys: Fire that marketer

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2011 - 12:33 AM |
Tagged: vsis, sudo, PlanetLab, linux

The Unix-based computer has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to enforcing permission levels upon their users. Back during the infancy of operating systems the idea of permissions did not compute with many of the platform developers. Today it is next to impossible to imagine a modern operating system without some sort of hierarchy of trust. Historically there were various methods of controlling access: first there was “su” which temporarily logged you in as another user; then there was “sudo” which let you just execute commands to another user rather than log in as them; now PlanetLab claims to have a better offering, called “Vsys”.

SUDOKU.png

SUDOKU

Vsys was created to allow finer control over what user is allowed what action. One feature is the ability to create extensions, scripts from executable files, to define what is permissible and what is not. It is apparently possible to permit certain combinations of commands but no other similar combinations. PlanetLab, the creator of Vsys, is a research network headquartered at Princeton University. From the wording of the article it appears as if Vsys was an internal tool developed for their researchers to have more specific access to what was necessary which they now released publicly. While it has been stated that Vsis will not replace sudo for the common user it should be useful for administrators of larger groups of users.