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AMD's Radeon Gallium3D Starts Posing A Threat To Catalyst

Michael Larabel

Published on 30 October 2013
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 5 - 76 Comments

With recent milestones like the Radeon performance improvements in Linux 3.12 that come as a side-effect from a CPUfreq change, Radeon DPM, and the improvements found by the upcoming Mesa 10.0 release, and numerous other open-source driver improvements, the AMD's Radeon Gallium3D performance is very competitive to AMD's Catalyst driver. This close level of performance is for the R600 Gallium3D driver with GPUs like the Radeon HD 5000/6000 series graphics cards. Here's some benchmarks showing how the open-source AMD Radeon performance compares today to the closed-source Catalyst driver on Windows and Ubuntu Linux. In some of today's new data, the open-source driver was running 80%+ the speed of AMD's Catalyst driver.

A few days back I delivered the results of a 13-way AMD / NVIDIA Windows vs. Linux GPU comparison using the respective binary drivers on both operating systems. Now I'm working on adding in the open-source Linux graphics driver results for all of those graphics cards. As the Radeon Gallium3D results are particularly interesting in their own right, for the graphics cards where I've finished testing the open-source driver, those OpenGL benchmark results have been included in this article today. The full open vs. closed-source driver comparison will come when all testing has finished. In case you missed it, this morning I also published the Intel Haswell Linux vs. Windows 8.1 performance comparison.

The AMD binary driver at play was the Catalyst 13.11 Beta while for this article on the open-source side I have the results from Ubuntu 13.10 when upgrading to Mesa 10.0 Git, moving to the Linux 3.12 kernel, and enabling Radeon DPM during benchmarking. All benchmarking was handled via the Phoronix Test Suite. All other system hardware was maintained the same during benchmarking (ignore the reported CPU frequency differences from the system table due to a change in how the CPU base/turbo frequency was reported between kernels.)

The graphics cards I have numbers on for this article are the AMD Radeon HD 5830, HD 6770, HD 6870, and HD 6950 graphics cards. The other R600g-driver-using GPUs and the RadeonSI-using HD 7000 series benchmarks will come in the later article. The findings today will likely hold true for the other HD 5000/6000 series graphics cards but the newer hardware using the "RadeonSI" driver is still a ways off as this driver is much more immature than R600g and it will be months before this newer driver can seriously compete with Catalyst.

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