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Nouveau Reclocking: Buggy, But Can Boost Performance

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  • Nouveau Reclocking: Buggy, But Can Boost Performance

    Phoronix: Nouveau Reclocking: Buggy, But Can Boost Performance

    Over the weekend I shared that the Nouveau driver project, which seeks to provide an open-source NVIDIA graphics driver for Linux and other platforms via reverse-engineering, hit a major milestone. The Nouveau driver now supports re-clocking for several generations of NVIDIA GeForce hardware, which allows the open-source driver to put the graphics cards at their properly designed operating frequencies for maximum performance. This can result in the Nouveau driver performing much better against the official closed-source NVIDIA graphics driver, but the support is still very experimental. Initial testing over the weekend found this support to perform well when it works, but that overall it is still very buggy.

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=17007

  • #2
    Well done!

    Even as an ATI card owner, I'm really excited about this.

    Bugs aside (they'll be worked out in a month or so) we are within a factor of 2 of the NVIDIA blob running doom3 (ie shader based, more or less modern, gpu taxing game).

    When the first Doom3 benchmarks came out, the difference was a factor of 10.

    That's a massive improvement. Congratulations Nouveau/mesa teams.

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    • #3
      It can't just boost performance, it can also save power for certain GPU's. My laptop boots at power level 1, but I can now set Nouveau to level 0 to save power.

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      • #4
        Wow

        It seems that, by the end of this year, Nouveau can catch-up with binary blob performance-wise, making binary blob obsolete in the same second (except for newest chip). Maby that could be a moment for NVIDIA, to get their heads out of their asses and start investing in Nouveau.

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        • #5
          Honestly I don't think it will catch up that fast, as there's still loads of OpenGL3/4 work to do. But yes reaching over 60% of the blob's speed is already possible with some games when manually setting the highest performance level. And also the support for SLI, TV-out, video decode, HDMI audio, OpenCL, etc. is still missing or not as good as the blob.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by mirza View Post
            It seems that, by the end of this year, Nouveau can catch-up with binary blob performance-wise, making binary blob obsolete in the same second (except for newest chip). Maby that could be a moment for NVIDIA, to get their heads out of their asses and start investing in Nouveau.
            Catching up won't be easy if possible ever, because NVIDIA binary driver has a lot of "optimizations", aka cheats (I don't blame NVIDIA here, ATI does the same).

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            • #7
              Can someone explain to me why its usually the lowend cards that have the best relative performance with mesa? This is not only nouveau, but even lowend radeons have usually much higher relative performance then their highend counterparts.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by birdie View Post
                Catching up won't be easy if possible ever, because NVIDIA binary driver has a lot of "optimizations", aka cheats (I don't blame NVIDIA here, ATI does the same).
                Cheats you say. Yes, but in the open source land the software can just be fixed, and won't need cheats.
                With the proprietary software Mesa3D may not equal blob performance. But hey, there are plenty of open source games.
                What bothers me more, is that when this power management is finished, AMD goes to the tail of Linux GPU support, besides of their best efforts Which is just sad. Even not supported by nvidia nouveau driver gets really closer to the blob. Intel...well they don't have a blob at all. I hope that with SI, the gap will be smaller, but still there are awful lot of Evergreen GPUs out there. Mine too

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Paulie889 View Post
                  Can someone explain to me why its usually the lowend cards that have the best relative performance with mesa? This is not only nouveau, but even lowend radeons have usually much higher relative performance then their highend counterparts.
                  My first guess, the optimizing shader compiler of the blob is better. With much more pixels on screen, the performance gap widens.

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                  • #10
                    Thats hellofaboost! Thats 80% of proprietary driver! Very impressive!

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                    • #11
                      Well it seems that this still needs a lot of work. But i tested the speed differences last april using openarena already. i think it worked for 9400 gt and ion at that time while a 7600 gt always ran at full speed. most results are too complicated to read just for the ion ones i did a nicer description. the effect was very extreme there

                      http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1...KANO-110419300

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Paulie889 View Post
                        Can someone explain to me why its usually the lowend cards that have the best relative performance with mesa? This is not only nouveau, but even lowend radeons have usually much higher relative performance then their highend counterparts.
                        Well, it is not unlikely that the graphics card is not the big bottleneck here. Two things I can come up with:
                        - The code in Mesa is not nearly as optimised as the one in the official drivers. This means that you possibly need more CPU cycles to do the same. Once you hit the CPU's speed barrier your framerate will not go up, regardless of the graphics card inside.
                        - A graphics card is basicly a chip with many many cores. Think of hundreds for mid- and high-end cards. This means that scheduling can be quite a big influence on performance for parallel-executable code. The more of these cores you utilise in parallel, the more performance you will get. Perhaps here's something to win too.

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                        • #13
                          This is just a guess, but I think that nouveau performs that well because it is reverse engineered from the binary, while the ati driver is being written based on the docs. If the nouveau is mimicking the binary driver to a certain degree, the performance shouldn't be that far off.

                          Now, what would happen if one compared the command/data steams from fglrx with the r600g output?
                          Last edited by log0; 01-30-2012, 07:08 AM. Reason: typ

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Paulie889 View Post
                            Can someone explain to me why its usually the lowend cards that have the best relative performance with mesa? This is not only nouveau, but even lowend radeons have usually much higher relative performance then their highend counterparts.
                            Lower end cards have a smaller difference between the performance levels, because they don't need as much power savings as higher end cards. It also happens sometimes on lower end cards that the default power state is not the lowest one.

                            For Fermi it's a different story as their lowest power state is barely useable, often one of the clocks is at 50MHz in that state. But still, for lower end cards the difference in clockspeed with the blob is smaller than for higher end cards, when both run at 50MHz with nouveau.
                            Last edited by AlbertP; 01-30-2012, 08:07 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by AlbertP View Post
                              It can't just boost performance, it can also save power for certain GPU's. My laptop boots at power level 1, but I can now set Nouveau to level 0 to save power.
                              Which GPU is in your laptop?

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