Last week we delivered our first Linux benchmarks of Intel's Core i3 Clarkdale processor with a variety of computational tests through the Phoronix Test Suite. While the Core i3 packs a nice performance punch, that is not all it has to offer. Also found on the Clarkdale (and mobile Arrandale) processors is an integrated 45nm graphics processor that is supposed to offer a decent level of performance in comparison to earlier Intel IGPs normally found on the motherboard's Chipset. In this article are these first Intel benchmarks for the Clarkdale graphics processor as we see how its open-source Intel driver stack compares to that of AMD with their open-source Radeon stack up through the Radeon R700 series.
As was mentioned in a previous posting, the Clarkdale graphics processor does work with recent Linux distributions and there actually has been open-source support (even 3D) prior to the availability of the hardware. In fact, the support process began months ago. This support is not perfect as it was common to run into GPU crashes (as mentioned in the aforementioned posting), but we have found out this issue is not specific to Clarkdale but is also occurring for some others using an updated Intel Linux driver stack. Besides these GPU crashes, everything was working fine, but these crashes are a glaring problem if you plan to use this chipset for any light OpenGL gaming. Compiz and just using the desktop seemed to work fine without any crashes during our days of testing.
The hardware used for this testing was the Intel Core i3 530 clocked at 2.93GHz, an ECS H55H-M motherboard, 2GB of OCZ DDR3 memory, and a 64GB OCZ Vertex SSD. On the software side was an Ubuntu 10.04 daily snapshot with GNOME 2.29.4, X Server 1.7.4 RC2, Mesa 7.7, and we had manually updated the Linux kernel to the Linux 2.6.33-rc5 release as well as the Intel X.Org driver to the xf86-video-intel 2.10.0 DDX.
We compared the performance of the Intel Clarkdale graphics using the same system to the following ATI graphics cards with their open-source stack: Radeon X800XL (400/490MHz), Radeon X1950PRO (581/702MHz), Radeon HD 2600PRO (600/650MHz), and Radeon HD 4670 (750/1000MHz). This was with the same system components aside from switching to the xf86-video-ati 6.12.99 driver and obviously the Radeon DRI driver in Mesa 7.7. The proprietary ATI Catalyst driver was not used in testing. As the Core i3 530 is not compatible with older Intel motherboards using the GMA 4-Series graphics on the chipset, we had not carried out a performance comparison to their previous generations, but you can find our GMA X4500HD benchmarks still from 2008.
The Linux graphics tests we ran in this article included 1080p H.264 X-Video playback in MPlayer, Warsow, World of Padman, VDrift, Urban Terror, GtkPerf, QGears2, and JXRenderMark. Benchmarking was done through the Phoronix Test Suite.