Back when the Radeon X1000 "R500" series support finally arrived for Linux, it came six months after the hardware was actually launched and the Linux performance was down the drain. In some benchmarks the ATI Radeon X1800XL 256MB was outperformed by the earlier Radeon X800XL and was clobbered by the NVIDIA GeForce 7800GTX being as much as four times faster. As we have been sharing all day, the fglrx 8.41 Linux driver finally turns the table where not only the Radeon X1000 performance is finally in order but all of their supported product families received a very nice performance boost. Four months after the availability of the Radeon HD 2900XT, the 8.41 fglrx driver now supports the R600 product family under Linux. We have multiple Radeon HD 2000 "R600" GPUs at hand for testing, but in this article we are focusing upon AMD's current flagship model, the Radeon HD 2900XT 512MB. The performance of the Radeon HD 2900XT under Linux is certainly astonishing after the previous performance shortcomings by ATI/AMD.
In our preview of the Sapphire Radeon HD 2900XT 512MB we shared all of the technical details about the graphics card, so in this article we will skip to the chase with the R600 details under Linux. The R600 mobile and desktop GPUs are supported by the fglrx 8.41 driver, which will be released to the public next week. This driver release is focused specifically for the R600 series and contains TexturedVideo support along with the other features supported by the fglrx driver. However, anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering are not working in this release. The new Linux driver also hasn't changed the status of MultiGPU CrossFire support under Linux.
For our Radeon HD 2900XT 512MB testing, we had used the same system and same set of benchmarks that we used to deliver our R500 Linux results in our previous article. The hardware consisted of dual Intel Xeon E5320 Quad-Core "Clovertown" processors, Tyan Tempest i5000XT motherboard, 4GB of DDR2-533 FB-DIMM RAM, OCZ ModXStream 780W PSU, and a Seagate 7200.9 300GB HDD. Loaded up on this system was Fedora 7 with the Linux 126.96.36.199 kernel and X server 1.3.
For looking at the performance of the Radeon HD 2900XT, we had used the previously tested Radeon X1950PRO 256MB and Radeon X1800XT 256MB with the fglrx 8.41 driver. On the NVIDIA side was a GeForce 8600GT from Gigabyte, which runs 60MHz higher than the normal 8600GT GPU clock speed and 500MHz faster for its GDDR3 memory. The NVIDIA driver used was version 100.14.11. We will be delivering additional benchmarks from the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 series in future articles. Benchmarks had consisted of Doom 3 and Quake 4. When Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is available, we will be delivering comprehensive benchmarks from this new title.