With the Intel Haswell product launch coming up soon, here's a look at how the Intel "Ivy Bridge" HD 4000 graphics support has matured on the seven most recent Linux kernel releases. This benchmarking shows how the performance of the Intel DRM driver has changed between the Linux 3.2 kernel and the Linux 3.8 kernel that's presently under development when using the integrated graphics found on the latest-generation Core i7 CPU.
While this article is just looking at the kernel-side performance impact of using Intel HD 4000 graphics on a Core i7 3770K "Ivy Bridge" processor, similar benchmarks on the same hardware looking at the recent Mesa Intel DRI driver releases will be coming out next week. Beyond that, similar benchmarks but updated looks at NVIDIA GeForce on Nouveau and AMD Radeon graphics hardware is coming out soon too, with this being an interesting time due to the forthcoming Linux 3.8 kernel release and Mesa 9.1 setting to ship in late February.
The Intel Core i7 3770K kernel comparison was happening using the Ubuntu mainline PPA for obtaining the kernels in a vanilla manner and can be easily obtained by others for easy reproducing of these automated benchmark results generated by the Phoronix Test Suite. Ubuntu 13.04 x86_64 was the base operating system with X.Org Server 1.13.2 RC1 and xf86-video-intel 2.20.19. The Xfce 4.10 desktop rather than Unity/Compiz was employed during this testing. Mesa 9.1-devel was built from Git as of this week and the same Mesa release -- as with all other software components aside from the Linux kernel -- were maintained during this latest Intel DRM driver comparison.
The first release of each Linux kernel series was used during benchmarking, except for the Linux 3.2 and 3.3 kernels where the latest available point releases (3.2.37 and 3.3.8, respectively) were used. Linux 3.2 and 3.3 wouldn't boot cleanly on this Ivy Bridge system on those kernels but had worked fine using the later point releases. On the Linux 3.2.x kernel, OpenGL 2.1 is only exposed for the Ivy Bridge graphics core with Mesa 9.1-devel due to its DRM driver rather than OpenGL 3.0+ on newer kernels.