At FOSDEM 2009 I grabbed one Vortex86SX based device — [Koala Nano PC](http://koala.it/it/nanopc.htm) which is available at Koan software. Device came with Ångström distribution and was running 2.6.26 kernel. I wanted to get something more fresh on it and after some fighting I booted 2.6.29-rc5 kernel today.
Device use Vortex86SX SoC which is based on 486SX core. Yes — this is x86 machine without FPU. Overall speed of that is… nearly not existing.
First benchmark which came to my mind was “hdparm -T /dev/sda”. Results were dramatic: 9-13 MB/s for cached reads (with 133MHz memory and 300MHz cpu). I decided to compare against other devices:
Device | Arch | CPU | CPU speed | memory type | cached reads
:——- |:–: |:—–: |———-:|:———–:|————-:
Koala Nano PC | x86 | vortex86sx | 300MHz | DDR2 |9-13MB/s
old PC | x86 | pentium2 | 266MHz | EDO DRAM | 33MB/s
ATNGW100 | av32 | AT32AP700x | 130MHz | SDRAM | 35MB/s
ASUS WL-500gP | mips | bcm3302 | 266MHz | | 46MB/s
Freecom FSG-3 | arm | ipx42x | 266MHz | | 43MB/s
iBook G3 | ppc | g3 | 300MHz | SDRAM | 65MB/s
AT91SAM9263-EK | arm | at91sam9263 | 180MHz | SDRAM | 62-63MB/s
Compulab | arm | pxa270 | 312MHz | SDRAM | 74MB/s
NSLU2 | arm | ixp420 | 266MHz | SDRAM | 74MB/s
Koala nano33 | x86 | vortex86dx | 1GHz | DDR2 | 74MB/s
Nokia N810 | arm | omap2420 | 400MHz | SDRAM | 82MB/s
AT91SAM9G20-EK | arm | at91sam9G20 | 400MHz | SDRAM | 96MB/s
Linkstation pro duo | arm | ixp4xx | 266MHz | | 147MB/s
BeagleBoard | arm | omap3530 | 500MHz | mDDR | 152MB/s
Alix.1c | x86 | geodelx | 500MHz | DDR | 209MB/s
kirkwood reference board[^1] | arm | kirkwood | 1200MHz | DDR2 | 209MB/s
BUG | arm | i.mx31 | 533MHz | DDR | 294MB/s
my desktop | x86 | core2quad | 2400MHz | DDR2 | 3300-3500MB/s
Cliff’s desktop | x86 | Core-i7 920 Quad | 2.67GHz | DDR3 | 6400-7200MB/s
But remember that this test is **not so good** for benchmarking — I am preparing better set of tests to **really** compare speed of devices. So far it contains `openssl speed` and MP3 encoding/decoding.
But device has also few nice things. Everything is integrated so 12x12cm box is enough to keep everything inside. It has ATA controller, FastEthernet, graphics based on XGI core (with accelerated framebuffer able to do 1680×1050 resolution) and working USB. There is a place to put 2.5″ HDD inside (normally it boots from CompactFlash card), second Ethernet or WiFi are available options…
But what is use for such slow device? There are lot of ARM based ones which offer similar (or better) functionality and are faster… But wait — there is one use: event displays as this machine has nicely working framebuffer (I got even 1680×1050 resolution).
**UPDATE:** added results from iBook G3 300MHz and some other machines.
[^1]: kirkwood reference board uses same cpu as [SheevaPlug](http://www.marvell.com/products/embedded_processors/developer/kirkwood/sheevaplug.jsp) device.
*[SoC]: System on Chip
*[FPU]: floating point unit