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AMD Catalyst: Ubuntu 12.10 vs. Windows 7

Michael Larabel

Published on 19 October 2012
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 7 - 86 Comments

For those wondering about the performance of Ubuntu Linux 12.10 versus Microsoft Windows 7 when using the same system and the Catalyst graphics driver, here are new Phoronix benchmarks of an AMD Radeon HD 6870 graphics card when running a variety of OpenGL workloads from Ubuntu 12.10, Kubuntu 12.10 (the KDE desktop version of Ubuntu 12.10 to avoid the Unity desktop overhead), and Microsoft Windows 7 Professional x64.

Back in September I delivered new OpenGL Linux vs. Windows performance benchmarks when using Intel graphics and then a NVIDIA graphics comparison with multiple graphics cards. In this article are the AMD Catalyst results from the competing operating systems. This time around a Radeon HD 6870 graphics card was used for testing, but due to problems between the packaged fglrx driver and the Unity desktop, only this graphics card was tested and not a range of graphics cards as done in previous multi-OS comparisons.

Microsoft Windows 7 and Ubuntu 12.10 were tested in their stock configurations. The KDE-based version of Ubuntu 12.10 was also tested due to the significant overhead of the Unity desktop with Compiz. With the KDE desktop, desktop effects were automatically suspended on full-screen windows. Catalyst 12.9 (fglrx 9.0.2 / OpenGL 4.2.11903) was used on the Linux side while at the time the Windows testing was done the Catalyst 12.8 driver was the latest (12.8 couldn't be used on Ubuntu 12.10 due to xorg-server 1.13 compatibility). The open-source Radeon Linux driver wasn't tested in this comparison since the unofficial driver simply isn't comparable to Catalyst in terms of performance, OpenGL compliance, and other features.

The same Intel Core i7 3770K "Ivy Bridge" test system was used on both Linux and Windows for this Radeon HD "Northern Islands" graphics cards. The Intel Linux vs. Windows testing showed that the proprietary Intel Windows driver was much faster than the open-source Linux driver for the latest-generation of Intel GPUs. The NVIDIA graphics driver is largely a shared code-base between Linux and Windows so there the performance is more comparable, but still Windows has advantages in some areas due to desktop differences, etc.

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