Benchmarking

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Benchmarking is the act of measuring performance and comparing the results to another system's results or a widely accepted standard through a unified procedure. This unified method of evaluating system performance can help answer questions such as:

  • Is the system performing as it should?
  • What driver version should be used to get optimal performance?
  • Is the system capable of doing task x?

Many tools can be used to determine system performance, the following provides a list of tools available.

Standalone tools

glxgears

glxgears is a popular OpenGL test that renders a very simple OpenGL performance and outputs the frame rate. Though glxgears can be useful as a test of direct rendering capabilities of the graphics driver, it is an outdated tool that is not representative of the current state of GNU/Linux graphics and overall OpenGL possibilities. glxgears only tests a small segment of the OpenGL capabilities that might be used in a game. Performance increases noted in glxgears will not necessarily be realized in any given game. See here for more information.

glxgears can be installed via the mesa-demos and lib32-mesa-demos (for Multilib) packages.

UnixBench

A unixbench package is available in the AUR: unixbenchAUR. To run benchmark run ubench in terminal.

See also:

interbench

interbench is an application designed to benchmark interactivity in Linux. It is designed to measure the effect of changes in Linux kernel design or system configuration changes such as CPU, I/O scheduler and filesystem changes and options.
Tip: With careful benchmarking, different hardware can be compared.

interbench is available in the AUR: interbenchAUR.

See also:

ttcp

ttcp (Test TCP) measures point-to-point bandwidth over any network connection. The program must be provided on both nodes between which bandwidth is to be determined.

Various flavors of ttcp can be found in the AUR:

iperf

iperf is an easy to use point-to-point bandwidth testing tool that can use either TCP or UDP. It has nicely formatted output and a parallel test mode.

iperf can be installed, or a different version of iperf is available with iperf3.

time

The time command provides timing statistics about the command run by displaying the time that passed between invocation and termination. Time is available on most basic linux systems.

$ time tar -zxvf archive.tar.gz

hdparm

Storage media can be benchmarked with hdparm (hdparm). Using hdparm with the -Tt switch, one can time sequential reads. This method is independent of partition alignment!

# hdparm -Tt /dev/sdX
/dev/sdX:
Timing cached reads:   x MB in  y seconds = z MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads:  x MB in  y seconds = z MB/sec
Note: One should run the above command 4-5 times and manually average the results for an accurate evaluation of read speed per the hdparm man page.

Unigine Engine

Unigine corp. has produced several modern OpenGL benchmarks based on their graphics engine with features such as:

  • Per-pixel dynamic lighting
  • Normal & parallax occlusion mapping
  • 64-bit HDR rendering
  • Volumetric fog and light
  • Powerful particle systems: fire, smoke, explosions
  • Extensible set of shaders (GLSL / HLSL)
  • Post-processing: depth of field, refraction, glow, blurring, color correction and much more.

Unigine benchmarks have found recent usage by those looking to overclock their systems. Heaven especially has been used for initial stability testing of overclocks.

These benchmarks can be found in the AUR (see links below).

See also:

gnome-disks

There is a graphical benchmark called gnome-disks contained in the gnome-disk-utility package that will give min/max/ave reads along with ave access time and a nice graphical display. This method is independent of partition alignment!

# gnome-disks

Users will need to navigate through the GUI to the benchmark button ("More actions..." => "Benchmark Volume..."). Example

systemd-analyze

systemd-analyze plot > boot.svg

Will plot a detailed graphic with the boot sequence: kernel time, userspace time, time taken by each service. Example

dd

The dd utility can be used to measure both reads and writes. This method is dependent on partition alignment! In other words, if you failed to properly align your partitions, this fact will be seen here since you are writing and reading to a mounted filesystem.

Note: This method requires the command to be executed from a mounted partition on the device of interest!

First, enter a directory on the SSD with at least 1.1 GB of free space (and one that obviously gives your user wrx permissions) and write a test file to measure write speeds and to give the device something to read:

$ cd /path/to/SSD
$ dd if=/dev/zero of=tempfile bs=1M count=1024 conv=fdatasync,notrunc status=progress
1024+0 records in
1024+0 records out
w bytes (x GB) copied, y s, z MB/s
Tip: See dd-benchmark for an explanation on the requirement to sync and further related dd options.

Next, clear the buffer-cache to accurately measure read speeds directly from the device:

# echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches
$ dd if=tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=1024 status=progress
1024+0 records in
1024+0 records out
w bytes (x GB) copied, y s, z MB/s

Now that the last file is in the buffer, repeat the command to see the speed of the buffer-cache:

$ dd if=tempfile of=/dev/null bs=1M count=1024 status=progress
1024+0 records in
1024+0 records out
w bytes (x GB) copied, y s, z GB/s
Note: One should run the above command 4-5 times and manually average the results for an accurate evaluation of the buffer read speed.

Finally, delete the temp file

$ rm tempfile
Note: Some SSD controllers have compression hardware, which may skew benchmark results. See http://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/SSDs-Advertised-vs-Actual-Performance-179/

See also Core utilities#dd.

dcfldd

Dcfldd doesn't print the average speed in MB/s like good old dd does but with time you can work around that.

Time the run clearing the disk:

# time dcfldd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdX bs=4M
18944 blocks (75776Mb) written.dcfldd:: No space left of device
real     16m17.033s
user     0m0.377s
sys      0m51.160s

Calculate MB/s by dividing the output of the dcfldd command by the time in seconds. For this example: 75776Mb / (16.4 min * 60) = 77.0 MB/s.

Software suites

Bonnie++

bonnie++ is a C++ rewrite of the original Bonnie benchmarking suite is aimed at performing several tests of hard drive and filesystem performance.

Warning: By default, bonnie++ write at least twice the RAM size on disk. If you want to preserve your SSD, use non default option.
Note: The original Bonnie suite does not appear to have been released under the GPL or other compatible license.

See also:

IOzone

IOzone is useful for performing a broad filesystem analysis of a vendor’s computer platform.

This program is available in the AUR: iozoneAUR.

See also BBS Article: iozone to evaluate I/O schedulers... results NOT what you'd expect!.

HardInfo

hardinfo can gather information about your system's hardware and operating system, perform benchmarks, and generate printable reports either in HTML or in plain text formats. HardInfo performs CPU and FPU benchmarks and has a very clean GTK-based interface.

See also Author's site.

Phoronix Test Suite

The Phoronix Test Suite is the most comprehensive testing and benchmarking platform available that provides an extensible framework for which new tests can be easily added. The software is designed to effectively carry out both qualitative and quantitative benchmarks in a clean, reproducible, and easy-to-use manner.

The Phoronix Test Suite is based upon the extensive testing and internal tools developed by Phoronix.com since 2004 along with support from leading tier-one computer hardware and software vendors. This software is open-source and licensed under the GNU GPLv3.

Originally developed for automated Linux testing, support to the Phoronix Test Suite has since been added for OpenSolaris, Apple macOS, Microsoft Windows, and BSD operating systems. The Phoronix Test Suite consists of a lightweight processing core (pts-core) with each benchmark consisting of an XML-based profile and related resource scripts. The process from the benchmark installation, to the actual benchmarking, to the parsing of important hardware and software components is heavily automated and completely repeatable, asking users only for confirmation of actions.

The Phoronix Test Suite interfaces with OpenBenchmarking.org as a collaborative web platform for the centralized storage of test results, sharing of test profiles and results, advanced analytical features, and other functionality. Phoromatic is an enterprise component to orchestrate test execution across multiple systems with remote management capabilities.

This suite can be installed with the package phoronix-test-suite. There is also a developmental version available with phoronix-test-suite-gitAUR.

PTS Desktop Live

Warning: The live image does not look like it has been maintained since 2010.

As an alternative to the installation of the Phoronix Test Suite to the system, Phoronix also provides a Live-CD. This Live-CD offers all the features of the Phoronix Test Suite and includes the latest ATI and NVIDIA binary drivers. It will allow you to run 40+ benchmarks from a live environment without the need to store anything on your hard drive and includes a working GUI interface.

See also:

Flash media

Performance characteristics can be measured quantitatively using iozoneAUR. Sustained read and write values can, but often do not, correlate to real-world use cases of I/O heavy operations, such as unpacking and writing a number of files on a system update. A relevant metric to consider in these cases is the random write speed for small files.

The example invocation tests a 10M file using a 4k record size:

$ iozone -e -I -a -s 10M -r 4k -i 0 -i 1 -i 2
...

                                                                random   random
              kB  reclen    write  rewrite    read    reread    read     write
           10240       4      661      649     5802     5822     3892      624
Note:
  • Test values are reported in KB/s.
  • For performance charts on SD cards and other flash media, see for example Tom's Hardware.

See also