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Intel's Gallium3D Driver After Google's Work

Michael Larabel

Published on 7 July 2011
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 4 - 23 Comments

As noted last week on Phoronix, Google has Chromium OS engineers making improvements to Intel's Gallium3D driver even though this open-source Linux driver isn't officially supported by Intel Corp. Google's interested in shipping the Intel Gallium3D driver on their Chromium OS netbooks in order to take advantage of the Low-Level Virtual Machine (LLVM) and other Gallium3D features to make up for the netbook's lack of vertex shader hardware. How does this community-maintained Intel 3D driver now compare performance-wise to Intel's official classic Mesa driver? Here is a fresh set of benchmarks from the latest Mesa Git code over the US holiday weekend.

Back in February I put out Intel Gallium3D benchmark results for the Mesa code at the time. That article also provides a brief Gallium3D overview as it relates to Intel. With those February numbers, the classic Mesa driver that is officially worked on by Intel Open-Source Technology Center (OSTC) engineers was faster than Gallium3D for the most part. Since February, there have been the many "i915g" patches from Google and other community developers, including VMware who originally wrote this driver. Read The Different Gallium3D Drivers Available if you are confused by the options.

This testing is using the Mesa "master" Git code from 2 July 2011, which is now onto Mesa 7.12-devel, for both the classic and Gallium3D Intel "915" drivers. The latest Linux 3.0 kernel code and libdrm from 2 July was also used. This testing was done atop an Ubuntu 11.04 32-bit installation with X.Org Server 1.10.1, GNOME 2.32.1 with Compiz, EXT4 file-system, GCC 4.5.2, and LLVM 2.8.

The hardware in use was a Samsung NC10 netbook with an Intel Atom N270, Intel 945 integrated graphics, 2GB of RAM, and a 32GB OCZ Core Series SSD. Via the Phoronix Test Suite, OpenArena, World of Padman, Urban Terror, Tremulous, Warsow, and VDrift were benchmarked.

Unfortunately, the state of the current Intel Gallium3D code is not perfect. Nexuiz has regressed to not rendering all textures correctly and ultimately it hangs the system after a while. Lightsmark also fails with the i915 Gallium3D driver. The colors were also off for a few items like the window close button.

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