Radeon Gallium3D Still Long Shot From Catalyst
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 23 March 2012. Page 1 of 4. 56 Comments

Following recent advancements in the open-source Radeon Linux driver like 2D color tiling support, I've carried out some new benchmarks of the open-source Radeon Gallium3D driver compared to AMD's official Catalyst driver. This time around, the open-source driver is seeing tests against AMD's binary blob when various performance-optimizing tweaks are enabled to see where the performance stands today.

From three recent Radeon graphics cards (the Radeon HD 5830, Radeon HD 6570, and Radeon HD 6950), tests were carried out in a stock Ubuntu 12.04 configuration, the latest open-source configuration with performance-boosting tweaks, and then the latest Catalyst driver. By default for modern pre-SI Radeon GPUs, the open-source driver is used by default. The Ubuntu 12.04 configuration includes the Linux 3.2 kernel, an xf86-video-ati Git snapshot, and Mesa 8.0.1. The Radeon HD 6950 graphics card was unstable during the OpenGL tests with this stock Precise Pangolin configuration so results for that Cayman graphics card are only available for the updated/tweaked and Catalyst driver configurations.

When running the "updated + tweaked" configuration, the graphics cards were tested with a snapshot of drm-next (what will be the Linux 3.4 kernel graphics drivers), Mesa 8.1-devel from Git master, libdrm Git, and xf86-video-ati Git DDX. Besides pulling in the latest of all the core components, ColorTiling and ColorTiling2D were enabled to take advantage of the R600+ 2D color tiling support. Swap buffers wait was also disabled as usual. PCI Express 2.0 support was also enabled, since by default the open-source Radeon drivers remain running at PCI-E 1.0 speeds.

Lastly, the Catalyst driver was tested in its stock configuration using the binary driver with an fglrx version of 8.95.3 and an OpenGL version string of 4.2.11566. All three Radeon HD 5000/6000 series graphics cards were tested from an Intel Core i7 3960X setup running at 4.5GHz with Ubuntu 12.04 x86_64 as its base operating system.

All testing was facilitated by the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org in a fully automated manner.

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