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Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking Benchmarking Platform
Phoromatic Test Orchestration

Ubuntu 10.10 vs. Mac OS X 10.6.5: A Competitive Race

Michael Larabel

Published on 6 December 2010
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 2 of 7 - 9 Comments

With the OpenGL game benchmarks being used, which are both native to Mac OS X and Linux, these were not built from source by the Phoronix Test Suite but rather used the distributed binaries. As a result, you will only see one set of results for each operating system with these 3D gaming tests. When running Nexuiz at 1440 x 900 (the native resolution of the Mac Book Pro's LCD panel), Ubuntu 10.10 was well more than twice as fast as Mac OS X 10.6.5. Apple has done a lot to improve its OpenGL performance and supported capabilities via their enhanced OpenGL stack (the Snow Leopard Graphics Update 1.0) that came after Valve brought Steam to Mac OS X, but evidently not enough to bring it up to a performance parity with NVIDIA's proprietary Linux driver, which performs at roughly the same speed as their Windows and Solaris/FreeBSD drivers too, due to the largely common code-base.

With the Qfusion-powered Warsow game, Ubuntu 10.10 continued to run faster than Mac OS X 10.6.5, but by a smaller margin. Last month we did deliver Mac OS X 10.6.5 benchmarks when this point release came and in that article used a 2009 Apple Mac Mini with NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics as a follow up to our original tests of Apple's Snow Leopard Graphics Update where Ubuntu with NVIDIA's blob for the most part continued to run faster than the Mac OS X driver in most tests. With the more powerful GeForce GT 330M, NVIDIA's official Linux driver is even faster than the Apple driver in many areas.

Running the ioquake3-powered OpenArena game led to a 37% frame-rate advantage on Linux with NVIDIA's proprietary driver over Apple's stock Mac OS X 10.6.5 driver.

With Urban Terror, which is powered by the ioquake3 engine too, the frame-rate advantage for Ubuntu Linux increased to 60%. This performance advantage for Ubuntu Linux though can only be found when using NVIDIA's official driver, but if using the open-source, community-created Nouveau driver that is clean-room reverse-engineered from NVIDIA's driver and built upon the Gallium3D driver architecture, you will find much slower performance.

That is it for our native cross-platform gaming tests for now. Overall, Ubuntu 10.10 with the NVIDIA proprietary driver is faster than that of the Mac OS X driver. Next up are our OpenCL benchmarks atop the NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M, so let us see how the respective graphics drivers do there.

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