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Intel - It Was One Heck Of A Year For Sandy Bridge Graphics

Michael Larabel

Published on 12 December 2011
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 2 of 5 - 3 Comments

The above screenshots represent just some of the problems with Sandy Bridge graphics under Linux at the beginning of the year. (All of the OpenGL issues have since been worked out.) To show how far Sandy has matured over the course of 2011, I have carried out benchmarks of each quarterly release of Intel's graphics stack plus additional tests using the very latest development code as of the time of testing. The testing comes down to the following configurations:

2011Q1: Linux 2.6.38 kernel, xf86-video-intel 2.15.0, Mesa 7.10.2. The official features of this quarter were VA-API VC1/H.264 support, power savings, and performance improvements.

2011Q3: Linux 3.0 kernel, xf86-video-intel 2.16.0, Mesa 7.11. (There was not any Intel 2011Q2 graphics package.) The official Intel features of this quarter were alpha support for Ivy Bridge (2D RENDER, X-Video, OpenGL, and VA-API) along with H.264 encoding support for Sandy Bridge with stability/performance improvements too.

2011Q4: Linux 3.1 kernel, xf86-video-intel 2.17.0, Mesa 7.11.2. The features of this recent package are talked about here.

2011-12-08 Git: The very latest upstream Git components of the Linux kernel (v3.2), xf86-video-intel (v2.17+), and Mesa (7.12-devel).

2011-12-08 Git + RC6: The same 8 December Git stack, but when enabling RC6 support, which will soon be on by default for Sandy Bridge. RC6 can save power and boost performance.

This testing was done from an Ubuntu 11.10 (x86_64) base setup on an Intel Core i5 2500K system with HD 3000 graphics. Here is the system information from the Phoronix Test Suite:

Now for the OpenBenchmarking.org results from a variety of OpenGL benchmarks. There were 2D and video acceleration improvements made over the course of 2011 too, but this article is just focusing upon the OpenGL performance.

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