Ever since the Raspberry Pi burst onto the scene in 2012, open source hardware projects have been promoting their Linux-ready hacker boards as offering faster, more capable alternatives. Considering the Pi's 700MHz ARM11 processor and relatively modest feature set, that's not such a stretch, but matching the $35 price is another story. If you can't match the price, what you really need to get the attention of Pi-lovers looking for a bit more oomph is to look and act like a Pi.
The distributions included:
Oracle Linux 6.5 - Oracle's spin of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 source tree.
Oracle Linux 7.0 Beta 1 - Oracle's spin of the earlier RHEL 7.0 Beta 1 source code.
CentOS 6.5 - The community spin of RHEL 6.5 that is now collaborating with upstream Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Fedora 20 - The out-of-the-box Fedora 20 for the latest experience of the Red Hat sponsored distribution
RHEL 7.0 RC1 - The just-released public ISO of the new Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.0 environment.
The good news now is that I've heard from a Valve Linux developer that additions to the Steam API will finally allow us to at least record universally a build revision/number for each game... Up to now it's been rather hard to tell if two separate copies of a Steam game being benchmarked were actually the same version (and thus comparable) or not since there wasn't an expressed build number across the board of all Steam games. With the latest Steam API work, it looks like we finally have that ability to record a build number for Steam games to make sure the same version of a game is being benchmarked.
While the Catalyst 14.4 OpenGL Linux graphics driver offers OpenGL 4.4 support, bug-fixes, and other improvements, it seems the performance improvements are limited -- at least in terms of raw frame-rate performance and frame latency. Some Phoronix readers have been boasting about the Catalyst 14.4 Linux driver being better with some Steam Linux games, but from my tests of a few Source Engine games, there didn't seem to be any major differences. The Catalyst 14.4 Linux driver only showed measurable performance boosts in a few benchmarks, where the biggest performance change for the four tested graphics cards was 6~9% faster.
SolidRun created the community-backed HummingBoard to serve as a modular motherboard for use in its Linux- and Android-ready CuBox mini-PCs, including the recent CuBox-i models. Like the recently announced, Allwinner A20-based Banana Pi single board computer, the HummingBoard is a faster near-clone of the Raspberry Pi. It also similarly offers Pi-like ports and layout, as well as the RasPi’s 26-pin expansion connector for add-on module compatibility. But unlike the Pi boards, the HummingBoard’s processor core resides on a tiny computer-on-module.
Fedora in general tends to have a more liberal update policy than Ubuntu and others when it comes to stable releases of software; new versions of the Linux kernel are shipped down to stable releases of Fedora, etc. With Fedora 21 not arriving until late in 2014, exceptions have been given to also ship new Mesa updates for Fedora 20 users to provide a more modern and updated hardware experience. For those curious how Fedora 20's performance compares to when it made its debut in December to how it performs now with all official stable updates, here's some benchmarks.
First, DSL router owners got an unwelcome Christmas present. Now, the same gift is back as an Easter egg. The same security researcher who originally discovered a backdoor in 24 models of wireless DSL routers has found that a patch intended to fix that problem doesn’t actually get rid of the backdoor—it just conceals it. And the nature of the “fix” suggests that the backdoor, which is part of the firmware for wireless DSL routers based on technology from the Taiwanese manufacturer Sercomm, was an intentional feature to begin with.
Back in December, Eloi Vanderbecken of Synacktiv Digital Security was visiting his family for the Christmas holiday, and for various reasons he had the need to gain administrative access to their Linksys WAG200G DSL gateway over Wi-Fi. He discovered that the device was listening on an undocumented Internet Protocol port number, and after analyzing the code in the firmware, he found that the port could be used to send administrative commands to the router without a password.
After Vanderbecken published his results, others confirmed that the same backdoor existed on other systems based on the same Sercomm modem, including home routers from Netgear, Cisco (both under the Cisco and Linksys brands), and Diamond. In January, Netgear and other vendors published a new version of the firmware that was supposed to close the back door.
For this benchmarking we used the stock compilers available through the Ubuntu 14.04 "Trusty Tahr" archive, which provided GCC 4.8.2 and LLVM Clang 3.4 -- the current stable versions of each compiler. The CFLAGS/CXXFLAGS set were "-O3 -march=native" to optimize the generated code performance for this particular hardware. GCC 4.8 introduced AMD Jaguar support while LLVM Clang 3.4 followed with the support. GCC 4.9 will already land AMD Excavator (bdver4) support.
OpenCL 1.2 was unveiled in late 2011 (and has already been succeeded by OpenCL 2.0 in late 2013). OpenCL 1.2 added features like better image support, separate compilation and linking of objects, device partitioning, and many other changes. NVIDIA though has lagging behind AMD in supporting OpenCL 1.2 by their Linux graphics driver.
The R9 295X graphics card was announced earlier this month and consists of two R9 "Hawaii" GPUs and 8GB of video memory. However, given the rather poor and not too useful CrossFire support under Linux, the R9 295X will likely not be too beneficial. The R9 295X also costs $1500 USD, so it's out of the hands of most Linux gamers.
Since last week's release of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS we have been busy benchmarking Ubuntu 14.04 in a variety of configurations. Already some of the Ubuntu "Trusty Tahr" benchmarks we have done recently include 12.04.4 vs. 13.10 vs. 14.04 benchmarks, a 20-way graphics card comparison, server benchmarks, and results in many other articles. We are in the process of doing a larger, server/enterprise-oriented Linux distribution. More distributions are still being tested, but to get a new week of benchmarking started at Phoronix, here are some results of Ubuntu Linux, Oracle Linux, CentOS, and openSUSE.
Taiwan-based Korenex, owned by Beijer Electronics Group, has been spinning its Linux-based, JetBox industrial controller and router computers since at least 2007, with more recent models including the circa-2011 Jetbox 9345-w. The new JetBox model 5300-w is one of its lower-end boxes, run by a 185MHz Atmel AT91RM9200 processor, and supported here with just 64MB of RAM.
The first keynote took place on the second day, and was delivered by Jen-Hsun Huang, NVIDIA CEO. His talk featured announcements of new architectures such as Pascal that will power the next generation of GPGPU products from the company, to the Jetson TK1 which is billed as the world's first embedded supercomputer. While Pascal will be used in the next generation of supercomputers and workstations, Jetson is targeted at the embedded market and both make extensive use of Linux. The keynote featured an Audi self-driven car appearing on stage powered by a Jetson-based architecture, and it ended in the announcement that all attendees would receive an Android powered NVIDIA shield.
It is clear that OpenGL is alive and well, with many exciting developments in this area. Interestingly, many of these are being fuelled by growing interest from the gaming industry as they port to new Linux-based platforms such as SteamOS. Live demos were given on the Jetson in the future of OpenGL session, and the Approaching Zero Driver Overhead talk from the preceding Game Developers Conference was referenced quite heavily. Several enhancements to the binary driver were mentioned in reference to better supporting scene graphs and real-time ray-tracing using nVidia's Optix platform was showcased and ultimately featured in one of the awards for the work on the HIV capsid as a showcase of what GPU technology can do to help drive forward progress in scientific research.
Designed by the guys who worked on security of the Xbox and developing the Linux kernel, we know we are in good hands with this project. Many of the products are manufactured at AQS, a company that has been a part of Silicon Valley for over 20 years and has developed projects for the United States Department of Defense.The limited edition heirloom version of the laptop is designed at Kurt Mottweiler's studio in Portland, Oregon.
In the days ahead we will have benchmarks of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS against Oracle Linux 6.5 and 7.0 Beta 1 along with CentOS 6.5 and the RHEL 7 release candidate among other enterprise-oriented Linux distributions. For this article to end out the weekend are just some benchmarks of Oracle Linux 6.5 vs. 7.0 Beta 1 when tested from the same hardware -- an Intel Core i7 3960X Ivy Bridge Extreme Edition system with a total of 12 logical CPU threads.
The TP-LINK TG-3468 is a 10/100/1000 Gigabit PCI Express network adapter that supports Wake-On-LAN, Auto MDI/MDIX, jumbo frame support, and includes a low-profile bracket for those wishing to install the adapter within a low-profile system. I ended up purchasing the TP-LINK TG-3468 when needing a few Linux friendly network adapters with Wake-On-LAN support for some systems in our benchmarking test farm at Phoronix.
Likely most notable from this latest DRM fixes series entering the Linux kernel is the microcode fixes for some newer graphics cards, mainly fixing up the dynamic power management support for the AMD Radeon R7 260X graphics card. Besides the microcode fixes to stabilize newer GCN-era hardware, there's also some run-time power management fixes, and PLL regression fixes for the Radeon driver. Hopefully this pull will fix a Radeon DRM problem previously mentioned on Phoronix during the early Linux 3.15 benchmarking. Many more Linux 3.15 kernel benchmarks are forthcoming on Phoronix.
AMD's Alex Deucher sent out a patch on Friday to disable Dynamic Power Management on the RV770 by default. The DPM for the RV770 was enabled by default with the Linux 3.13 kernel and it yields better/lower power consumption while idling, better performance if the video BIOS sets lower clock speeds at boot time, and with the lower power consumption can also come lower heat output. However, some users have reported issues with RV770 GPUs in using the Linux 3.13 kernel and newer. (In my personal testing of several different RV770 GPUs, I haven't encountered any issues with Linux 3.13+.)