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Windows 8 Beats Ubuntu Linux For Intel "Haswell" OpenGL Performance

Michael Larabel

Published on 24 July 2013
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 6 - 30 Comments

While we have published many Linux articles about Intel Haswell since the debut of the processors a month and a half ago, coming out now are our first benchmarks of the Microsoft Windows 8 performance against Ubuntu 13.10 Linux when using an Intel Core i7 4770K processor with HD Graphics 4600. Past Phoronix benchmarks have shown the Intel OpenGL performance to be superior on Windows over the Intel open-source Linux driver, but is this the case for Haswell?

Earlier in July I provided updated Windows vs. Linux OpenGL benchmarks for HD 4000 Ivy Bridge graphics on an Intel Ultrabook in anticipation of this Haswell testing. The Ivy Bridge testing showed that even with the latest Windows drivers and all of the brand new Linux driver code and kernel, Microsoft's operating system still delivered better gaming performance than Linux.

Aside from the Windows driver delivering better performance, other advantages it's had include support for OpenGL 4.x where as the Linux driver is presently capped to OpenGL 3.1 (though with the Mesa 9.2 release in August, OpenGL 3.2~3.3 compliance is nearly -- but not entirely -- in place) and there isn't any working Intel OpenCL Linux graphics support.

Overall though, since the Sandy Bridge days (2011), the Intel Open-Source Technology Center team responsible for the development of the HD Linux graphics driver stack has truly stepped up their game. The Intel Linux graphics performance continues to improve, the OpenGL compliance is slowly but surely catching up (though I wouldn't expect any OpenGL 4.0 compliance prior to this time next year), and other features are being implemented.

For this i7-4770K testing between Windows and Linux, Windows 8 Pro x64 was used and compared against Ubuntu 13.10 x86_64. All available updates for each operating system were applied as of the time of testing. On Ubuntu 13.10, the Linux 3.11 Git kernel was installed along with the latest Mesa 9.2 Git driver code. On the Windows driver side, the latest Windows 8 64-bit Intel Iris/HD graphics driver offered through Intel.com was used, which was version 15.31.9.3165. The same hardware was used throughout the Intel Linux and Windows testing.

A variety of OpenGL 2.x and OpenGL 3.x benchmarks were used for this round of testing where native Linux and Windows clients are available and the level of the Linux/Windows support is similar (as judged by other testing to ensure the binaries for each operating system are fair). All of the Intel Haswell OpenGL benchmarking under Ubuntu Linux and Windows 8 was handled via the open-source Phoronix Test Suite software with OpenBenchmarking.org integration.

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