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AMD Radeon R9 290: Gallium3D vs. Catalyst Drivers

Michael Larabel

Published on 26 August 2014
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 4 - 22 Comments

After yesterday delivering the first open-source benchmarks of the Radeon R9 290, here's the open-source driver (RadeonSI Gallium3D) vs. closed-source driver (Catalyst) Linux OpenGL benchmarks for this high-end AMD Hawaii graphics card.

Yesterday's comparison was just about looking at the open-source performance (now that it's finally working) of the Radeon R9 290 compared to other AMD Radeon HD/Rx graphics cards on the same open-source driver stack. In today's article we're exclusively looking at the Radeon R9 290 performance when testing both the latest open and closed-source drivers. On the open-source side was the Linux 3.17 Git kernel, Mesa 10.3-devel, xf86-video-ati 7.4.99, and other Git components supplied by the Oibaf PPA atop the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS installation. On the closed-source AMD side was the Catalyst 14.6 Beta that was the latest at the time of testing.

All testing happened from an Intel Core i7 4790K system with XFX Radeon R9 290 4GB graphics card. No other hardware/software changes were made during the testing process aside from downgrading the kernel when using the Catalyst driver to what's found in Ubuntu 14.04 for kernel API compatibility. (While most Phoronix readers should already be well aware, the reported CPU frequency differences in the system table just come down to the different CPU scaling driver on the different kernels and reporting base vs. Turbo frequency; along with the other reporting differences just come down to how the different drivers/kernels expose their information but it was all maintained during testing.)

The Radeon R9 290 currently exposes OpenGL 3.3 support with the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver while Catalyst is capable of OpenGL 4.4. The RadeonSI Gallium3D support for OpenGL 4.x remains a work-in-progress that will hopefully see 4.0~4.2 compliance by the end of the year. The OpenCL work for the open-source Radeon driver also remains a big work in progress.

On the following pages are our Radeon R9 290 open vs. closed-source driver benchmark results with the latest Linux drivers. Expect more updated Linux GPU test results in the days ahead. Have other feedback or requests? Let me know on Twitter. All benchmarks were automated using the Phoronix Test Suite.

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