The Gallium3D driver on the ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics card would lock-up when running World of Padman, but it played fine on the Radeon HD 4870. With the Radeon HD 4870, the frame-rate under the Gallium3D driver was slightly higher than with the classic default, but here the Catalyst driver was more than six times as fast.
The Gallium3D driver did not provide any decisive advantages over the classic Mesa driver with the Smokin Guns' game, which is yet another title powered by the ioquake3 engine. The Catalyst driver had frame-rates more than six times as fast as the open-source ATI drivers that struggled to produce playable frame-rates at higher resolutions.
It was just in July that we reported on the R600/700 Gallium3D driver being able to run glxgears after some shader compiler shortcuts were taken to get things going after the R600g driver was merged to Mesa's mainline code-base in May. It is incredible to see that in just the past couple of months the driver has went from not being able to run any proper OpenGL applications to now outperforming the classic Mesa R600 driver in most cases and is at a near parity with the classic driver. The only areas where we hit issues were with the Gallium3D driver with ATI Radeon HD 5000 series hardware not running a few of the games, but the Radeon HD 4000 series support was spot on, as is the case too for the Radeon HD 2000/3000 generations. These problems will hopefully be addressed in the near term.
The performance though of these open-source ATI drivers is still years behind that of the Catalyst driver, but at least there is open-source support and for these less demanding games, it is able to produce a playable experience. With the Gallium3D-based drivers there are also other interesting possibilities that emerge with state trackers, XvMC video playback via shaders, etc. It will also be exciting if the Radeon HD 6000 series open-source acceleration support is built upon the success of this R600g driver. The Gallium3D driver performance will also improve once the latest color tiling and page-flipping patches have been merged, which should happen soon. Another article is planned at this time looking at the Radeon page-flipping performance as it may bring sizable performance boosts.
Based upon our experience with this Gallium3D driver, it would not surprise us if this too replaces its classic Mesa driver alternative with either the Mesa 7.10 or Mesa 7.11 releases.