The World of Padman frame-rate on the ioquake3 engine goes up by 19% between 2011Q3 and 2011Q4. With the latest Mesa 7.12-devel + Linux 3.2 kernel Git code, the frame-rate is up an additional 25%.
Urban Terror and Smokin' Guns, two more ioquake3-based games, also experienced improvements over the course of the year after being flaky with the 2011Q3 snapshot.
Sandy Bridge graphics under Linux have gone from being somewhat of a shit-wreck at first to now being a very reliable and impressive experience under Linux. Intel Sandy Bridge graphics still are not as fast as the discrete graphics solutions, but it is quite viable for a composited Linux desktop with light gaming. With VA-API video acceleration, the video playback experience is also quite pleasant. With frame-buffer compression and RC6 support added this year, the power management is also in better standing than many of the other open-source Linux graphics drivers.
Now it is just a matter of waiting for the OpenGL 3.0 support in Mesa to be finished up and for Intel to release Ivy Bridge next year... In the mean time, for those interested, coming up in another article are similar benchmarks to what is found in this article, but for previous-generation Intel Ironlake graphics. Sandy Bridge Extreme benchmarks are also forthcoming.