Crafty is a popular open-source chess engine that can be used to benchmark your CPU speed and is part of SPEC2000 benchmark. It is a chess engine in the sense that it doesn’t have any GUI; it support a popular Chess GUI protocol known as Winboard protocol and can connect to any GUI that supports that protocol. You can also play chess on the CLI version if you know your chess notations and don’t mind typing chess moves.
The benchmark itself is very basic. It analyzes pre-determined chess games positions and calculates the number of “nodes” (moves) per second till certain “depth” is reached and displays the total NPS as well as the average NPS. This type of benchmark gained interest and recognition since the development of Deep Blue Chess Computer and it’s games against Gary kasparov. Deep blue claimed to have calculated 200 million positions per second in 1997. In comparison my dual-core laptop calculates 1.1 million positions per second. I have seen a high-end quad core calculate up to 6 millions NPS.
Just type in “bench” on the command prompt and depending on your hardware it should take somewhere around few seconds to few minutes to finish the benchmark. Debian or Debian-based users should be able to download it from their repositories. Others can compile it themselves by grabbing the source from it’s FTP.