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ODROID-U2 Part 2: Benchmarking the ARM Beast

Last week's article discussed some of the broad differences between the ODroid-U2 machine and other ARM offerings. While ARM CPUs offer wonderful computing power per watt, in this article we'll dig into just how fast the ODroid-U2 can perform various tasks. I'll throw in some benchmarks from large desktop machines so you can get an idea of whether the ODroid-U2 might be fast enough to perform your given workload.

odroid with cardsBenchmarks are always a difficult topic. Apart from them being hard to perform well, it is difficult even working out what tests are going to be relevant to users. If you are looking to use the ODroid as a network server, you are likely to be interested in operations like cryptographic digests and signature generation and verification. As the ODroid can use a special eMMC card, you are also likely to be interested in how well that performs relative to a normal microSD card.

Openssl Benchmark

The openssl package includes a benchmark that uses a single core of the CPU and performs various speed tests. You can run this test with your installed openssl using "openssl speed" and in a bunch of minutes you will have figures for various tasks on various sizes of data. To make sure I was comparing things fairly close, I compiled openssl-1.0.1e on both the desktop and ODroid-U2. Unfortunately I was using different versions of gcc on both platforms.

ODroid-U2: gcc (Ubuntu/Linaro 4.6.3-1ubuntu5) 4.6.3
Fedora-18: gcc (GCC) 4.7.2 20121109 (Red Hat 4.7.2-8)

Luckily, compiling openssl is itself a good benchmark. It took about 4 times longer to compile on the ODroid-U2 machine than an Intel 2600K (both running at normal specifications, ie, no overclock). I used nice make -j 4 on both machines, so I was only using 4 cores on the 2600K and not taking any advantage of hyperthreading.

real    3m59.897s
user    5m52.300s
sys     0m32.840s
Fedora-18/Intel 2600K
real    0m59.684s
user    1m6.102s
sys     0m12.216s

So now on to the openssl benchmark results. For digests, sha256, md5, and sha1 are about 3, 5, and 6 times faster on the Intel 2600K chip than the ODroid. For encryption, aes-256 is about twice as fast on the Intel 2600K. The larger standouts are RSA sign and verify which range at about 16-18 times faster on the Intel 2600K. For such a low power draw chip the aes-256 is surprisingly fast on the ODroid.

The Mail400 GPU on the ODroid when tested using the glmark22012.08 gives an overall score of 78. The first tests for build, texture, and shading all run in the ballpark of 100 Frames Per Second (FPS). The phong shading drops back to 75 FPS.

eMMC Benchmark

I bought the 16Gb eMMC card with my ODroid. For benchmarking I have created a roughly 8.5Gb partition starting at address 1153,2288. I created a fresh ext4 filesystem with default parameters, and ran bonnie++ skipping the byte at a time tests. The setup is shown below:

# fdisk -l mmcblk0 | grep mmcblk0p3
/dev/mmcblk0p3        11532288    30777343     9622528   83  Linux
# mkfs.ext4 /dev/mmcblk0p3
# mount /dev/mmcblk0p3 /home/ben/tmp
# chown ben:ben /home/ben/tmp
# su -l ben
$ cd /home/ben/tmp
$ /usr/sbin/bonnie++ -f -m odroid-emmc -d `pwd`

On the eMMC card, sequential output is around 16Mb/s and drops to 12Mb/s on rewrite. Sequential input is at 61Mb/s with around 1300 seeks/s. As for file operations, around 10,000 files can be created and deleted per second. To compare, I used a SanDisk SDSDQU-016G Mobile Ultra microSDHC (Class 10) microSD card, creating a 9Gb partition on it and again using ext4 as the filesystem. Sequential output dropped to around 50-55% of the speed, with rewrite being less than 50% as fast. Sequential input was a major loss running at about 30% of the speed of the eMMC card.

Web Browsing Test

For testing Web browsing performance, I used Firefox on both machines and ran the Octane Javascript benchmark. The Intel 2600K wins as expected, getting 9667 with the ODroid getting 1411 overall. The devil is in the details of course, the Mandreel test is 60 times faster on the 2600K, while the regexp test is only 3.5 times faster on the 2600K. The below table shows how many times faster the Intel 2600K machine ran the Octane benchmark relative to the ODroid-U2.

Richards:  4.5
CodeLoad:  4.9
Splay:     5.3
NavierStokes: 5.8
Crypto:    6.2
DeltaBlue: 6.4

Good Enough for Desktop?

The KDE effects Desktop Grid and Present Windows both have a small noticeable initial delay from when the hotkey is pressed to when the effect is in place. But both effects are usable with four desktops at 720p. The ODROID-U2 is fast enough to replace some desktop machines while living in 5 watts of power at idle and up to around 10 watts under full load. While it doesn't have the speed to replace high end desktop machines, it is fast enough to be put to many good uses. 



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  • Einridi Said:

    Looks like a nice little machine even if the performance not "top of the line". As you said its fast enough, fast enough for the average joe, that is.

  • Chris Said:

    So between 25-50% of the processing power of a 2600K at 2% of the electrical drain. Depending on what you are using it for I'd say it'd be a good trade off. Also if you run Android on it, an OS more optimized (currently) for web browsing and simple tasks like that on RISC processors. You would get plenty out of it for most home users. Will it be your next gaming platform, NO? I think it is promising. The average home user really doesn't need a massive computer at home. The average home user gets on for a few minutes to look something up on the web and to maybe do some basic office stuff or budgeting. How powerful does their computer need to be. My question is would this handle replacing my PIII as my home server. Web, E-mail, File services, etc for 1. I think it would be great since I am not serving a large group or anything the initial cost and power savings should rock as long as I don't need the complex instruction set to handle my services or potential services I end up playing with.

  • einridi Said:

    Btw... 10W full load. Thats impressive though, concidering most fo the time the machine wont even be using it's full potential :-)

  • Dunkel Said:

    if you're after speed, you should def. get the x2 instead of the u2. i am very satisfied with mine, and I dont know of any faster arm board in that price level. love it!

  • harry Said:

    Dude the Odroid U2 and X2 have the exact same components, just the X2 has more I/O ports. They run at the same speed.

  • QK Said:

    Dunkel, the X2 & U2 are the same in terms of performance the only difference lies in the I/Os.

  • anonymous Said:

    Average Jane and Joe do not care whats under the hood or how much power differential exists. Average Jane and Joe want to get things done and move on to other things in life. I'd go for the Intel , at least I can dual boot into Windows if I have to.

  • devboard master Said:

    What you need to do is benchmark all the dev board against eath other. Raspberry Pi vs. Odroid vs. cubieboard vs. beagle board.

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