With Fedora 19 presenting a nice "out of the box" experience for AMD Radeon HD 7000 series graphics using the open-source RadeonSI Gallium3D driver, benchmarks of the open-source driver were done and compared to previous generations of AMD hardware. Sadly, there's still much work ahead for the Radeon HD 7000 series driver in being able to catch up with the hardware supported under the mature R600 Gallium3D driver.
Be sure to read AMD HD 7000 "RadeonSI" Runs Well With Fedora 19 for information on the "out of the box" experience of the AMD Southern Islands GPUs on the upcoming release of F19 and why it took so long for this open-source driver support. In this article, the "out of the box" software is being compared for two Radeon HD 7000 series graphics cards against earlier Radeon HD 4000/5000/6000 series graphics cards.
The proprietary AMD Catalyst driver isn't being benchmarked but solely the open-source stock AMD Radeon software shipped in Fedora 19. In a separate article in July will cover the open-source vs. closed-source driver performance. Articles in July will also address other graphics comparisons from the exciting Fedora 19 release.
The Southern Islands graphics cards being benchmarked in this article are the Radeon HD 7850 and Radeon HD 7950 graphics cards. This comparison is limited to the GPUs in my possession, which for the HD 7000 series are just these two graphics cards at the moment, and was hardware that had to be purchased rather than sampled from AMD. It would be interesting to see how the RadeonSI performance is on lower-end HD 7000 series GPUs, but alas.
The other Radeon GPUs tested that utilize the R600 Gallium3D driver were the Radeon HD 4870, HD 5830, HD 6450, HD 6870, and HD 6950 graphics cards. All of them were tested on the Linux 3.9 kernel, Mesa 9.2.0-devel, and xf86-video-ati 7.1.99 as currently shipped in the Fedora 19 repository just ahead of next week's official release. The only non-default change made during any of the testing was setting SwapBuffersWait to disabled for the Radeon DDX.