Unigine Heaven 3.0 was running faster than the earlier 2.1 build. At 1920 x 1080, Unigine Heaven 3.0 with the XFX Radeon HD 7950 was 57% faster than the Radeon HD 6950.
Seeing the Radeon HD 7950 graphics card running 40~50%+ faster than the previous-generation Radeon HD 6950 was a joy to experience. However, as said several times now, the XFX graphics card was factory-overclocked. Because of the Catalyst Linux driver still detecting this months-old GPU as being "unsupported hardware", the clock speeds could not be changed to run the HD 7950 at its 800/1250MHz reference speeds or to see how much further the GPU could be pushed. The limitations could be understandable if the hardware was just being announced today, but it's already been available to the public for months.
When the Radeon HD 7950 is fully supported by the Catalyst Linux driver, there will be more Linux benchmarks on Phoronix to better look at the Southern Islands situation. When the clock speeds can be manipulated is also when there will be Linux power consumption figures for these graphics cards.
Likewise, when AMD finally publishes open-source driver support for the Radeon HD 7000 series, there will be Linux tests on Phoronix. But if you're spending close to $500 USD on a graphics card (the XFX Radeon HD 7950 cost $470 USD), chances are you won't want to use the open-source Radeon driver for the foreseeable future as its performance will be worse-off than Catalyst, power management is lacking, there still isn't proper UVD-based video acceleration, there's only OpenGL ~3.0 compliance, no CrossFireX, and various other limitations. The Radeon HD 7700 and other lower-end graphics cards may make more sense to use with the yet-to-be-released open-source driver.
In terms of how well the "unsupported" Radeon HD 7950 worked with the fglrx 8.95 driver, there were no stability issues to report, no corruption issues aside from the usual Unity desktop problems, OpenGL acceleration had no problems, and overall worked quite well aside from not being able to use aticonfig/amdconfig. There's also some image quality comparison screenshots in this Phoronix posting. It will be quite interesting to see how AMD's Southern Islands and NVIDIA's Kepler will battle it out under Linux.
If you want to see how your Linux system's graphics performance compares to the Radeon HD 7950, thanks to the Phoronix Test Suite and OpenBenchmarking.org, it's simply a matter of running phoronix-test-suite benchmark 1203119-BY-RADEONHD752 to facilitate a fully-automated side-by-side performance comparison to the results in this article.
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