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Intel Graphics On Linux Still Behind Windows, With Sandy Bridge

Michael Larabel

Published on 16 February 2011
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 4 - 23 Comments

Now that I finally have Sandy Bridge graphics working under Linux, thanks to another H67 motherboard and Core i5 2500K processor from Intel that don't exhibit the earlier problems, there's many Linux benchmarks available. Overall the Core i5 2500K graphics under Linux with the latest kernel / DDX / Mesa are fast, for being Intel integrated graphics and much improved over their previous generations of hardware. But how do these first-cut Intel Linux Sandy Bridge drivers compare to the drivers of the same age under Windows? In this article are benchmarks comparing the Intel Core i5 2500K graphics performance under Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 and Ubuntu 10.10.

Historically, the Linux graphics driver performance has lagged behind Windows in terms of OpenGL performance even when both drivers are stable and mature. The tests earlier this week comparing Ubuntu Linux and Mac OS X with Intel 945 graphics indicate that even Apple's OpenGL drivers for Intel IGPs are still outperforming the Intel Mesa Linux driver too. Today though is the first time that the first-cut Intel graphics drivers are being compared under Linux and Windows with the Sandy Bridge hardware being just about one month old.

The Intel Core i5 2500K with its Intel HD 3000 Graphics were benchmarked under Microsoft Windows 7 x64 Professional with the Service Pack 1 Release Candidate and then under Ubuntu 10.10 with the updated Intel Linux graphics driver stack. The driver version on the Windows 7 side was Intel 8.15.10.2279. On the Linux side, our updated Intel Linux driver stack was the Linux 2.6.38-rc4 kernel, X.Org Server 1.9.3 RC1, xf86-video-intel 2.14.0, and Mesa 7.11-devel with the components being obtained from the Ubuntu xorg-edgers PPA and the Ubuntu mainline kernel repository.

The hardware consisted of the Intel Core i5-2500K Quad-Core running at its stock speeds of 3.3GHz with 3.7GHz Turbo Boost, the Intel H67 Bearup Lake motherboard, 2GB of DDR3 system memory, and an OCZ 60GB Vertex 2 SSD.

Our test arsenal for this first look at the Windows vs. Linux Sandy Bridge graphics performance included Nexuiz, OpenArena, Warsow, and Lightsmark as all of these OpenGL games have native Windows and Linux binaries and previous testing have shown them to be comparable across platforms. The testing was done with Phoronix Test Suite 3.0-Iveland and OpenBenchmarking.org.

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