Last month I alluded to a 40-way graphics card comparison being worked on at Phoronix. This comparison is to extensively compare the performance of the open and closed-source drivers for each graphics card and to comprehensively comment on other areas of the Linux graphics driver support. Not only is the OpenGL performance being evaluated, but the thermal performance, CPU utilization, and power consumption is being looked at too. Being published today to mark the beginning of the Oktoberfest 2011 articles are the ATI/AMD Radeon results. This includes 28 of the 40 graphics cards, with GPUs as old as the Radeon X800XL and as new as the AMD Radeon HD 6950.
There are over two dozen graphics cards being tested in this article. This is just the number of discrete graphics cards that were sitting around my labs when beginning the test process, with each one being a unique model. The comparison is also limited to consumer graphics cards and not the selection of FireGL/FirePro graphics processors, but that could come in another article. There are multiple graphics cards representing each generation of ATI/AMD Radeon GPUs spanning seven years (the oldest, a Radeon X800XL, was released in late 2004).
Before jumping to the Linux performance results, there's a look at each graphics card being tested along with a few comments about each of them, such as the level of Linux support and caveats for each GPU/generation with both the open and closed-source drivers. It almost comes down to being a modern summary of the 380+ graphics driver articles and 110+ graphics card reviews that I have written on Phoronix over the past seven years.
The equivalent NVIDIA article is in the publishing queue for next week. The timing of this article is in part to celebrate AMD's open-source strategy turning four years old and their continued efforts to the Linux desktop. I had exclusive rights on the open-source strategy to announce to the world back on 6 September 2007 while the RadeonHD Linux driver was released on 17 September 2007.
Grab a coffee or beer and get ready for this comprehensive look at the ATI/AMD Radeon Linux graphics support and performance. As a note before proceeding, anyone who wishes to view these results ad-free (Please no AdBlock or similar; Phoronix.com is run single-handedly and funded entirely by advertisements and Phoronix Premium. This article alone required more than 310 hours to complete at great expense.) and view the entire article on a single page, can do so by subscribing to Phoronix Premium. There's also the known trick of buying me a Maß of Augustiner at Oktoberfest or any other meet-up, where some have even earned a life-time Phoronix Premium membership.