Five Years Of Linux Kernel Benchmarks: 2.6.12 Through 2.6.37
While we have conducted studies related to the Linux kernel performance in the past such as benchmarking up to twelve kernel releases, going out the door this morning are the results from the largest-ever Linux kernel comparison conducted at Phoronix, and very likely the largest ever of its kind regardless of source. Every major Linux kernel release from Linux 2.6.12, which was released in mid-2005, up through the latest Linux 2.6.37 development code was tested. This represents the past five years of the Linux kernel and shows how the performance has evolved over the past 25 stable kernel releases and the most recent 2.6.37 development kernel.
Benchmarking 26 kernels was no easy feat with running nearly two dozen tests each time and each test being run multiple times (usually three to five times as a minimum). Fortunately, with the Phoronix Test Suite combined with an Intel Core i7 "Gulftown" made this process much faster, easier, and more reliable than what would otherwise have been possible.
In order to go back all the way to the Linux 2.6.12 kernel, which puts us to the era of Ubuntu 5.10, SuSE 9.3, Fedora Core 4, and Mandrake 2006 distributions, we decided to go with Fedora Core 4 as the base operating system. However, in order to run Fedora Core 4 on the Core i7 970 desktop system rather than 2005-era hardware where this benchmarking process would have easily taken weeks, we ran all tests from within a Fedora Core 4 virtual machine. The Core i7 970 host system was running Ubuntu 10.10 64-bit with the Linux 2.6.35 kernel on an ASRock X58 SuperComputer motherboard, 3GB of DDR3 system memory, a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460, and a 64GB OCZ Vertex SSD.