AMD APU On Linux: Gallium3D Can Be 80%+ As Fast As Catalyst
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 30 November 2013. Page 1 of 5. 56 Comments

After running earlier this week a 21-way graphics card comparison with Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA GPUs, there were requests by some Phoronix readers to see some new APU performance numbers. For ending out November, here's new Catalyst vs. Gallium3D driver benchmarks on Ubuntu Linux for the AMD A10-6800K with its Radeon HD 8670D graphics. The results with the latest Linux kernel and Mesa are very positive towards the open-source AMD driver where in some tests the performance can nearly match Catalyst! For at least one Source Engine game, the open-source driver can now even run significantly faster than the binary driver.

The quad-core AMD A10-6800K "Richland" APU with Radeon HD 8670D graphics was tested on Ubuntu 13.10 x86_64 in its out-of-the-box configuration (Linux 3.11 + Mesa 9.2), then with the Catalyst driver installed via the fglrx package in the Ubuntu 13.10 archive, and lastly when using the Linux 3.13 kernel in its Git state as of 30 November and also using the Oibaf driver archive for Mesa 10.1-devel and a Git snapshot of the xf86-video-ati DDX.

The Richland APU remains fairly nice under Linux but we're certainly looking forward to the AMD Kaveri launch in January. The Radeon HD 8670D graphics on the A10-6800K have been supported by the R600 Gallium3D driver for some time. Making today's tests more interesting are thanks to the Linux 3.13 Git kernel usage that Radeon DPM (Dynamic Power Management) is enabled by default so the APU's graphics core can be re-clocked to its highest performance state. For the R600 Gallium3D driver we have also seen several performance improvements in the Mesa 10.0/10.1-devel code too.

If all goes well, the open-source AMD driver should now be capable of giving the Catalyst driver a nice run for its money, but it should be interesting since we haven't benchmarked this AMD APU setup in a while. (For those that were making new A10-6800K APU Linux test requests for a while, some months ago a beer was knocked over on the table and some Weihenstephaner hit the MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 motherboard while it was running in an open-air configuration. At first the motherboard was acting up, but when trying it out this week, all fortunately seems well with the hardware so that we can deliver more tests from the hardware.)

The A10-6800K was overclocked to 4.70GHz during all of our Linux testing and the Corsair DDR3 memory was running at 2133MHz. All benchmarking was handled via the Phoronix Test Suite.

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