Since AMD introduced their new Linux display driver last month, we have published a number of different articles looking at the Radeon performance across their different GPU product generations. This ATI/AMD Linux driver testing and exploration continued this month with the release of the 8.42 driver, which finally introduced AIGLX support for the fglrx driver. One area though we haven't yet analyzed is how their official Linux driver now compares to their much-optimized Windows Catalyst driver. Today, however, we will be looking just at that as we compare the ATI Radeon HD 2900XT 512MB performance under Linux and Microsoft Windows Vista.
The last time we compared the Linux and Windows performance with ATI graphics was back in May with a Radeon X1800XL and X1950PRO. In that article, the poor performance state of the fglrx driver caused the performance to suffer and as a result, the frame-rates were cut in half in many cases. For our purposes today we had used id Software's Doom 3 and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars for the basis of our benchmarks. Doom 3 is now a mature game in the marketplace and during our past multi-platform NVIDIA comparisons, it has shown that it's an even playing field when it comes to the frame-rate performance of the native Linux and Windows clients. Meanwhile, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars was used seeing as it’s a brand new title and with a native Linux client and is certainly able to stress the Radeon HD 2900XT.
For the Linux testing we had used Fedora 7 (i686) with the Linux 2.6.23 kernel and the fglrx 8.42.3 driver. With Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit we had used the Catalyst 7.10 release. Aside from the HD 2900XT, the system setup consisted of dual quad-core Intel Xeon E5320 processors, Tyan Tempest i5000XT motherboard, 4GB of DDR2-533 FB-DIMM RAM, 300GB Seagate SATA 2.0 hard drive, and an OCZ 750W power supply. This is the same test system used in a number of recent graphics articles.
With our Doom 3 (v1.3) testing we had used the traditional "demo1" while with Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (v1.1) we had tested used the Phoronix timed recordings from the Refinery and Slipgate maps. The rest of the settings in Linux and Vista were left at their stock values. Now let's see how the Radeon HD 2900XT on Linux stacks up against Microsoft Windows Vista...