AMD Kaveri: Catalyst vs. RadeonSI Gallium3D On Linux
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 12 August 2014. Page 1 of 5. 38 Comments

With the recently released AMD A10-7800 Kaveri APU I carried out some new benchmarks comparing the open and closed-source Linux GPU driver performance for AMD with their Catalyst and RadeonSI Gallium3D solutions. When running the open-source Ubuntu driver tests, multiple versions of Mesa and the Linux kernel were used.

From many discrete Radeon graphics cards I recently ran a number of open vs. closed-source Linux driver benchmarks and found Radeon Gallium3D running increasingly well against AMD's Catalyst, but that was with all discrete GPUs and no APU products. In this article an AMD A10-7800 with its Radeon R7 Graphics and four cores at 3.5/3.9GHz (Turbo) of processing power. The Radeon R7 APU Graphics on the A10-7800 have a 720MHz clock frequency and the system memory was running at DDR3-2133MHz.

The driver configurations tested for this A10-7800 Kaveri testing on Ubuntu 14.04 Linux were:

- The Catalyst 14.6 Beta (fglrx 14.20.7 / OpenGL 4.3.12967) as the latest version at time of testing. This was from Ubuntu 14.04 with its official Linux 3.13.0-24-generic kernel.

- The same Ubuntu 14.04 installation but switching from the proprietary Catalyst driver to the open-source driver stack shipped by Ubuntu 14.04: the stock Linux 3.13 kernel with Mesa 10.1.3 and xf86-video-ati 7.3.0.

- The same open-source driver configuration as mentioned above but deploying the Oibaf PPA for tapping xf86-video-ati 7.4.99 Git and Mesa 10.3-devel for the latest user-space driver components.

- Lastly was the above configuration of Ubuntu 14.04 + Oibaf PPA and then installing the mainline Linux 3.16 kernel for having the latest stable Radeon DRM driver and the improvements brought to it since Linux 3.13. Through all testing all of the stock driver settings were used aside from disabling swap buffer waits with the Radeon DDX.

All of the OpenGL benchmarking in this article was done using the Phoronix Test Suite. The AMD Kaveri APU on the open-source Linux driver is limited to OpenGL 3.3 compliance while OpenGL 4 support is still being worked on for the open-source Linux GPU drivers. OpenCL testing was left out of this article since the open-source Radeon driver still only has rudimentary GPGPU support compared to Catalyst.

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