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X.Org 7.2: ATI Open v. Closed Drivers

Michael Larabel

Published on 6 February 2007
Written by Michael Larabel
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Last October we had compared the performance of the open-source R300 display driver against the closed-source fglrx driver for ATI Radeon graphics cards. In that comparison a Mobility Radeon X300 was used with X.Org 7.1, but we have decided to take another look at this driver comparison under X.Org 7.2. In this last comparison, the fglrx binary blob had greatly outperformed the open-source driver. While the fglrx driver remains faster, has the performance delta between these two drivers decreased?

The Linux distribution used was Fedora 7 Test 1. Fedora 7 Test 1 ships with X.Org 7.2.0 and the ATI 6.6.3 driver. The latest fglrx driver (8.33.6) does not support Fedora 7. However, the Fedora packaging scripts have been updated and now support Fedora 7 Test 1. These updated scripts are available on the Phoronix Forums and MichaelLarabel.com. The 8.34 fglrx display drivers this month should include Fedora 7 support, but will likely contain Linux 2.6.20 compatibility issues.

Hardware Components
Processor: Intel Pentium D 820
Motherboard: Abit AW8 (i955X)
Memory: 2 x 1GB OCZ Flex XLC
Graphics Card: ATI Radeon X800XL 256MB
Hard Drives: Western Digital 160GB SATA2
Power Supply: SilverStone Zeus ST75ZF 750W
Software Components
Operating System: Fedora 7 Test 1
Linux Kernel: 2.6.19-1.2917.fc7
GCC: 4.1.1
X.Org: 7.2.0

Like last year's X.Org 7.1 comparison, AccelMethod was set to XAA while both ColorTiling and EnablePageFlip were enabled. The GARTSize was set for 64MB in our xorg.conf. For comparing the open and closed source drivers we had used Enemy Territory and Unreal Tournament 2004. The graphics card used was an ATI Power Color Radeon X800XL 256MB with Arctic Cooling Silencer 5. Due to the faster X800XL GPU, this time around we were able to compare the drivers with Unreal Tournament 2004 over Unreal Tournament 2003 in the past. The open-source Radeon driver still lacks support for the R500 X1000 series but it adequately supports up to the Radeon X850 series.

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