Since NVIDIA's 1.0-7676 Linux driver release on August 11 of this year, we have not yet seen a newest release candidate, which happens to be the feature-filled 1.0-8XXX series. Although the Rel80 Linux drivers should be available any day now, ATI has offered several new driver releases in this short three-month period. ATI had originally aimed for a bi-monthly driver release, but lately we've seen this time-frame shorten dramatically with these recent releases and ATI has come out with one of, if not, the best track records for releasing their latest improvements on a timely basis. Keep in mind, however, that the Linux drivers still do not support the ATI X1000 series, CrossFire, or a similar CATALYST Control Center to that of Windows. Even though the v8.18.8 Linux drivers had not offered a great deal of improvements over the v8.18.6 drivers (mainly distribution enhancements), the newest drivers we have with us today (v8.19.10) offer a fair amount of changes. In this article today, we will be focusing upon the frame-rate performance of not only their latest release but also that of the three previous versions - v8.16.20, v8.18.6, and v8.18.8. In another upcoming article, we will also be bringing fourth an exclusive preview as to ATI's mobile capabilities with their latest graphics drivers. Below are ATI's official release notes for their latest drivers.
Release Date: November 11, 2005
· PowerPlay Support
· fgl_glxgears Update
· Initial Suspend and Resume Support
For comparing the performance of these four ATI Linux driver releases, we used an IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad R52 laptop with the hardware and software specifications listed below. Although the laptop is not able to pack much of a punch with only an ATI X300 PCI-E, it is able to adequately show the performance benefits from these latest driver releases as well as being at the heart of our upcoming ATI v8.19.10 mobile preview with PowerPlay.
|Processor:||Intel Pentium M 750 (1.86GHz)|
|Motherboard:||Lenovo R52 18494WU (i915PM + ICH-6M)|
|Memory:||1 x 512MB DDR2|
|Graphics Card:||ATI RADEON X300 64MB (dedicated)|
|Hard Drives:||IBM 80GB 5400RPM|
|Operating System:||OpenSuSE 10.0|
|GCC (GNU Compiler):||4.0.2|
For benchmarking today, we have used Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, Quake 4, and Doom 3. Due to a bug in the ATI v8.16.20 drivers, which prevented the system from initializing the menus, we were unable to perform Quake 4 and Doom 3 benchmarks with the stated drivers. With each of these games that serve as viable graphics benchmarks for the X300, we ran them at a variety of different resolutions and visual qualities. As usual, all standard Phoronix benchmarking practices were applied. In Enemy Territory, the 3DCenter Railgun demo was used while in Doom 3, the default demo1 was utilized and in Quake 4, our Phoronix-custom Purification Center map was benchmarked. Below is the output from the Linux ATI Control Panel for the v8.19.10 drivers.