It has been about a month since we last delivered ATI/AMD Radeon Linux benchmarks comparing the performance of the open-source driver against the high-performance proprietary driver. Since that point there's been various improvements to the Mesa/Gallium3D driver and there's also been the merge of the latest Radeon DRM code for the next kernel, which will likely be called the Linux 3.0 kernel, but in the DRM pull request was referred to as Gardenshed. Here are these benchmarks on several different Radeon graphics cards.
For this article we took a few Radeon HD 4000/5000 series graphics cards, ran them once again with the very latest open-source code, and then compared those numbers to the proprietary Catalyst driver. In this comparison we were limited to the Radeon HD 4000 (RV770) series and Radeon HD 5000 (Evergreen) series as the Radeon HD 6000 (Northern Islands) series is too broken right now. With Radeon HD 2000/3000 (R600) series GPUs on the Gardenshed DRM we were hitting GPU soft resets and then ultimately the system would hang after that happened a few times, as mentioned earlier. This new R600 problem had occurred with multiple HD 2000/3000 series graphics processors on Nexuiz and easily reproducible by the Phoronix Test Suite.
Tests were done on an Intel Core i5 2500K (Sandy Bridge) system with a Sapphire Pure Black P67 Hydra motherboard, 4GB of system memory, 250GB Seagate SATA HDD, and Radeon HD 4670 / Radeon HD 4830 / Radeon HD 5450 / Radeon HD 5750 graphics cards. Ubuntu 11.04 x86_64 was the operating system with the Unity 3.8.10 desktop, X Server 1.10.1, and an EXT4 file-system.
The Linux kernel Git code was obtained from Git on 26 May along with Mesa 7.11-devel and xf86-video-ati and libdrm. The Catalyst driver used was the 11.4 release from the Ubuntu Natty package repository. Testing of each driver stack was done at its default settings. Enough said, let us get to the results.