[rescue] Sunburst

Meelis Roos mroos at linux.ee
Fri May 21 01:44:09 CDT 2010

> Actually that is an OS issue rather than hardware - I have seen
> Solaris/x86 keep chugging along under situations that would bring a
> Linux box (at least earlier kernels) to its knees.

Not that I have a recent comaprision but back when I used a brand new 
Blade 100 as my desktop, I used both Solaris and Linux on it (the same 
sparc hardware, dualboot). It was used for C/C++ development and as a 
normal desktop (web, some multimedia, firewire video grabbing). Soalris 
8 and Linux 2.4 timeframe (i.e ancient versions by todays standard).

So I happened to do some benchmarks. First some small synthetic ones, 
then larger ones (big compiles) and along them some subjective ones 
(desktop snappiness, video smoothness).

For low-level operating system level benchmarks (lmbech, unixbench etc), 
Linux tended to be consistently faster.

For realworld compilation with the same gcc version (compiled locally), 
Linux was slightly faster for compilation and much faster for linking 
(disk IO and other kernel level codepaths). Neither system came to its 

For X11 desktop smoothiness, Linux was slow as a dog and Solaris quite 
snappy. Linux was using only sparc v8 (no multiplication etc) code for 
X11 & co (actuall all userspace packages), this was one of the reasons. 
I recompiled X11 & some libs by hand using v9 optimizations, this cured 
it some but didn't make as fast as Solaris was..

That seemed to be a general sparclinux issue with X11 (it was much 
better 2 years later when I used Ultra 5 with then-current Linux as my 
temporary desktop replacement). Additionally, a PowerMac G3 Linux box 
with 250 MHz upgrade card and 10kRPM disk did beat the 500 MHz sparc 
with Linux in KDE login benchmark by being TWICE AS FAST (most of it 
probably came from the 10kRPM disk, sparc box had only a brand new model 
on 7200RPM IDE disk), so there was definitely something wrong with X11 
in sparclinux at that time.

For video playback, Linux won hands down because Solaris was quite 
crippled (no XVideo). I used the integrated ATI Mach 64 graphics card 
and Linux could make use of its video scaling overlay (via GATOS), 
Solaris could not (and software upscaling was out of question).

For firewire video grabbing, there was no performance test since Solaris 
8 did not allow to do it (only some SunVideo camera support), so I just 
did it in Linux.

Meelis Roos (mroos at linux.ee)

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