With the upcoming release of Mesa 8.1, here's a look at how the AMD Radeon "R600" Gallium3D driver performance has changed over the past two years. This article has benchmarks of each major Mesa release going back to Mesa 7.9 of 2010 back when the R600 classic DRI driver was still in early development but the only viable choice for using accelerated open-source graphics on AMD Radeon HD 2000 series graphics cards and newer. For the most part, the open-source Radeon Linux graphics performance has advanced greatly in terms of OpenGL performance over the past two years, but it's not without some outstanding regressions.
Benchmarked in this article were the Mesa Git branches of master (8.1-devel git-27013e5), 8.0 (8.0.4 git-539a02b), 7.11 (7.11.2 git-ecf0bef), 7.10 (7.10.3), and 7.9 (7.9.2). The R600 Gallium3D driver is the focus of this testing but for the Mesa 7.9.2 release the "R600c" classic DRI driver was used since the R600 Gallium3D driver wasn't in a usable state at that time for the Radeon HD 4870 graphics card that's being used for today's testing. The Radeon HD 4870 was chosen for being a graphics card that's well supported under Linux at this time and in a mature state along with this "RV770" GPU being quite popular back in the day.
When comparing the Mesa releases, all other system hardware and software components were maintained the same. A development snapshot of Ubuntu 12.10 was used while switching to the Unity 2D 6.0 desktop and also moving to the vanilla Linux 3.5 final kernel. Swap buffers wait was disabled during testing for the xf86-video-ati DDX driver.
Let's see how the Radeon Gallium3D performance for this graphics card has changed in about two years time...