In this article are benchmarks of the past two Ubuntu Long-Term Support releases (Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS and Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS) compared to the latest Ubuntu 13.04 development state. Being looked at specifically for this round of testing is the AMD Radeon Linux graphics performance with the latest open-source driver compared to an older Catalyst driver. For an AMD Radeon HD 4800 series graphics card, the current state of the open-source graphics driver on Linux is beginning to outperform an old AMD Catalyst driver from 2010 for select Linux OpenGL games.
For running some Ubuntu Linux legacy benchmarks for reference, an old AMD Phenom 9500 Quad-Core system was pulled out and an AMD Radeon HD 4830 graphics card installed. The results being shared today are the OpenGL results for Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS, Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS, and Ubuntu 13.04 with the latest development version as of this week. There will be other articles in the coming days looking at other areas of the Linux system performance going back several years from this original AMD Phenom system. The results being shown off today are for Linux OpenGL performance in the following configurations:
Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS - Catalyst: The stock Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS "Lucid Lynx" installation when installing the Catalyst driver from the Ubuntu archive (fglrx 8.72.11 / OpenGL 3.2.9756).
Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS: The stock Ubuntu 10.04.4 LTS installation (aside from disabling swap buffers wait for the xf86-video-ati DDX) while using the stock open-source driver of Mesa 7.7.1 with the Linux 2.6.32 kernel DRM.
Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS: The stock open-source Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS installation (with disabling swap buffers wait, of course) while using its stock desktop (Unity 5.14.0) and the open-source Radeon driver of Mesa 8.0.4 Gallium3D.
Ubuntu 13.04 - Xfce: The stock Ubuntu 13.04 daily LiveCD as of this week while using the Xfce 4.10 desktop environment. This test run was done to fend off any inquiries whether Unity 13.04 driver performance has changed or Unity/Compiz is still getting in the way for Linux OpenGL gaming.
Ubuntu 13.04: The stock Ubuntu 13.04 daily LiveCD as of this week while using the default Unity 6.6.0 desktop environment with Compiz.
Here's the rundown on the AMD Phenom 9500 + AMD Radeon HD 4830 system hardware/software configuration:
Now let's look at the results for a selection of Linux OpenGL games from the five Ubuntu Linux configurations. All testing was facilitated in a fully automated, reproducible, and streamlined manner using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite software.