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dd in conjunction with any stream-processing CPU-intensive program can be used as a simple CPU benchmark!

You can run this out of the box as follows:

$ dd if=/dev/zero bs=1M count=1024 | md5sum
1024+0 records in
1024+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB) copied,
2.28735 s, 469 MB/s
cd573cfaace07e7949bc0c46028904ff  -

In this case the md5sum program was used, which calculates the MD5 hash of data that is fed to it.

In effect, dd here fetches 1 GB of zeroes from the Linux kernel, feeds that to md5sum, and then prints how fast in MB/sec that was processed. This was executed on a modern 3.6 GHz AMD Phenom II CPU.

Via enki.com.

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