Performance Measurement on ARM

After working mostly with different ARM processors in the 200...400 MHz range in lots of Embedded Linux projects over the last years, we have seen an interesting development in the market recently:

  • ARM cpus, having been known for their low power consumption, are becoming faster and faster (example: OMAP3, Beagleboard, MX51/MX53).
  • x86, having been known for its high computing performance, is becoming more and more SoC-like, power friendly and slower.

If you read the marketing stuff from the chip manufacturers, it sounds like if ARM is the next x86 (in terms of performance) and x86 is the next ARM (in terms of power consumption). But where do we stand today? How fast are modern ARM derivates?

More Infos

Want to learn more about our benchmarking setup?

The Pengutronix Kernel team wanted to know, and so we measured, in order to get some real numbers. Here are the results, and they turn up some interesting questions. Don't take the "observations" below too scientifically - I try to sum up the results in short claims.

As ARM is explicitly a low power architecture, it would have been interesting to measure some "performance vs. power consumption" data. However, as we have done our experiments on board level products, this couldn't be done. Some manufacturers tend to put more peripheral chips on their modules than others, so we would have only measured the effects of the board BoMs.

Test Hardware

In order to find out more about the real speed of today's hardware, we collected some typical industrial hardware in our lab, so this is the list of devices we have benchmarked:

Test Hardware CPU Freq. Core RAM Kernel
phyCORE-PXA270 PXA270 (Marvell) 520 MHz XScale (ARMv5) SDRAM 2.6.34
phyCORE-i.MX27 MX27 (Freescale) 400 MHz ARM926 (ARMv5) DDR 2.6.34
phyCORE-i.MX35 MX35 (Freescale) 532 MHz ARM1136 (ARMv6) DDR2 2.6.34
O3530-PB-1452 (Texas Instruments) OMAP3530 500 MHz Cortex-A8 (ARMv7) DDR 2.6.34
Beagleboard C3 OMAP3530 500 MHz Cortex-A8 (ARMv7) DDR 2.6.34
phyCORE-Atom Z510 (Intel) 1100 MHz Atom DDR2 2.6.34

LMbench command lines


root@target:~ lat_ops 2>&1

filtered by

grep "^float mul:" | cut -f3 -d" "


root@target:~ list="rd wr rdwr cp fwr frd bzero bcopy"; \
for i in $list; \
do echo -en "$i\t";  done; \
echo; \
for i in $list; \
do res=$(bw_mem 33554432 $i 2>&1 | awk "{print \$2}"); \
echo -en "$res\t"; done; \
echo MB/Sec

filtered by

awk "/rd\twr\trdwr\tcp\tfwr\tfrd\tbzero\tbcopy/ { getline; print \$3 }"

Further Readings

umpf - Git on a New Level

Modern software development is commonly accompanied by a version control system like Git in order to have changes to the source code being documented in a traceable manner. Furthermore, any version state should be easily reproducible at any time. However, for work on complex projects such as the BSP ("Board Support Package") of an embedded system with its multiple development aspects, the simple stacking of the individual changes on top of each other does not scale.

Pengutronix Kernel Contributions in 2021

2022 has started, and although Corona had a huge impact on our workflow, the Pengutronix team again made quite some contributions to the Linux kernel. The last kernel release in 2020 was 5.10, the last one in 2021 was 5.15, so let's have a look at what happened in between.

Pengutronix at FOSDEM 2021

"FOSDEM is a free event for software developers to meet, share ideas and collaborate. Every year, thousands of developers of free and open source software from all over the world gather at the event in Brussels. In 2021, they will gather online." -- FOSDEM