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NVIDIA Linux Display Driver Performance Analyzed

Michael Larabel

Published on 23 May 2005
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 8 - Comment On This Article

Unlike the NVIDIA Windows Forceware drivers, Linux NVIDIA display drivers don’t stick to as stringent release deadlines. Since January of 2004 there have been over ten releases for Windows users while Linux fans have only experienced six release candidates. However, do these Linux drivers manage to pack a larger punch? We have re-investigated the latest of these Linux releases to see the performance benefits of these upgrades. The Linux releases we’ll be testing today include the 1.0-7174, 1.0-7167, and 1.0-6629. Originally, we had also planned on also showing results for the 1.0-6111 drivers; however we were unable to build a NVIDIA kernel module for the display drivers using the 2.6 kernel. As GeForce 6600GT support was only granted to these Linux drivers in November of 2004, we were only able to compare the two latest NVIDIA releases. To get a better understanding for the level of performance, we tested these drivers on two independent testbeds. One testbed contained a Gigabyte 6600GT PCI Express while the other used a Prolink FX5900XT AGP. For the benchmarks, we used Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo (2206), Unreal Tournament 2004 Demo (3334), Doom 3 (1.1.1286), and SPECViewPerf (8.0). Below are both testbeds that were used in the testing process.

Hardware Components
Processor: Intel Pentium 4 530 (3.0GHz)
Motherboard: DFI LANPARTY UT 915P-T12
Memory: 512MB Corsair XMS PC4400
Graphics Card: Gigabyte 6600GT (GV-NX66T128)
Hard Drives: Hitachi 80GB SATA
Optical Drives: Lite-On DVD-ROM
Cooling: 3 x 120mm case fans
Power Supply: Thermaltake Purepower 460W
Software Components
Operating System: FedoraCore3
Linux Kernel: 2.6.11-1.14
GCC (GNU Compiler): 3.4.3
  Xorg 6.8.2

Hardware Components
Processor: AMD Athlon XP 2500+ Barton
Motherboard: Abit NF7-S Revision 2
Memory: 512MB Ultra PC3200
Graphics Card: Prolink PixelView FX5900XT
Hard Drives: Western Digital 80GB 7200RPM
Optical Drives: Lite-On DVD-ROM
Power Supply: Logisys Pitbull 500W
Software Components
Operating System: FedoraCore3
Linux Kernel: 2.6.9-1.667
GCC (GNU Compiler): 3.4.3
  Xorg 6.8.2

In Unreal Tournament 2003 benchmarking, we used dm-antalus and dm-asbestos for the testing maps. During this benchmarking process, the game resolution was maintained at 1024 x 768 and we ran each map as a flyby and then a botmatch consisting of 12 automated players. Each benchmark ran for duration of 80 seconds. On Unreal Tournament 2004, the maps we used were as-convoy, dm-rankin, and ons-torlan. Twelve bots were used in each of the benchmarks. Like Unreal Tournament 2003, the length of each benchmark remained the same at 80 seconds. For our Doom 3 benchmarking, we used the traditional stock timedemo1. With this demo, we ran it at 640 x 480 low quality and 1024 x 768 ultra quality. After compiling SPECViewPerf 8.0 using GCC, we simply ran all of the available tests and didn’t change any of the default specifications.

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