When plugging in one of the Radeon HD 4870s into a test-bed, the graphics card had worked "out of the box" with Catalyst 8.6 on Ubuntu 8.04 LTS. As we mentioned in another article, the Radeon HD 4870 already works with the open-source ATI driver. Some of the notes from our Radeon HD 4850 Linux article remain relevant here: CrossFire will be supported on these cards by the fglrx driver later this quarter, the dynamic power management features are supported on this graphics card under Linux, and only the standard AA/AF features are supported on OpenGL under Linux and not any of the new image quality settings found within the Windows Catalyst Suite. Two of the current limitations of the Linux Catalyst Suite are no OverDrive support for overclocking or thermal monitoring of the GPU and the lack of UVD2 support. The Unified Video Decoder 2 may be supported at some point in the future under Linux, but for now you will be limited to using X-Video for playback.
For testing we ran the same setup used in our Radeon HD 4850 preview. This setup consisted of an Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 overclocked to 4.00GHz, ASUS P5E3 Premium (Intel X38) motherboard, 2GB of OCZ DDR3-1333MHz memory, and SilverStone Zeus ST75ZF power supply. Running on the software side was Ubuntu 8.04 LTS 32-bit with the Linux 2.6.24 kernel, X Server 1.4.1 pre-release, and the Catalyst 8.6 driver. The graphics cards being used for comparison on the NVIDIA side were the GeForce 8800GT 256MB and GeForce 9800GTX 512MB. On the ATI side was the Radeon HD 3870 512MB and Radeon HD 4850 512MB.
When delivering our Radeon HD 4850 results, we had found the NVIDIA GeForce 9800GTX to outperform the Radeon HD 4850 in a majority of the tests and there wasn't much of a difference between the Radeon HD 3870 and HD 4850. We were not hitting a CPU bottleneck either, as the Core 2 Duo "Wolfdale" was running at 4GHz, but instead we were hitting a bottleneck within the fglrx driver. Since then, we have pushed the Radeon HD 4850 harder via anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering settings. Once pushing the RV770 GPU harder, there is a much greater delta and the lead then falls into ATI's lap -- and is then similar to the results found on Windows.
With the Radeon HD 4870 testing we had ran the Phoronix Test Suite with the Phoronix Certification & Qualification Suite for graphics. Among the tests are Nexuiz, OpenArena, Doom 3, Quake 4, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, X-Plane 9, and GtkPerf. We had ran these tests without any AA or AF override, but then we proceeded to run the Phoronix Test Suite again when the anti-aliasing was forced to 8x and a third time when the anti-aliasing was set at 8x and the anisotropic filtering set to 16x. The AA/AF settings were controlled through each driver's control panel.