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July 2011 Open-Source Graphics Driver Comparison

Michael Larabel

Published on 22 July 2011
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 4 - 11 Comments

Following last week's benchmarks of Intel's New Sandy Bridge Acceleration architecture with the very latest open-source driver code, it was decided to throw a few NVIDIA and ATI/AMD graphics cards into the mix to see where the open-source driver performance is comparatively at for some other hardware. This article presents these Linux graphics results for eight configurations.

The testing was limited to hardware that was working well, which included the Intel Core i5 2500K and its HD 3000 graphics (with and without SNA acceleration), NVIDIA GeForce 8400GS, GeForce 9500GT, Radeon HD 4550, Radeon HD 4670, Radeon HD 5450, and Radeon HD 6570. The newer GeForce 200 series hardware wasn't working well with Nouveau using the latest snapshots, the FUC-free firmware code for Nouveau on GeForce 400/500 series isn't landing until the Linux 3.1 kernel (making it more of a nuisance to test right now), and there were a few issues with select Radeon HD graphics cards. However, a much larger comparison is planned for August or September once the Linux 3.1 kernel is maturing along with any other Mesa 7.12-devel advancements.

Testing was done on an Intel Core i5 2500K Sandy Bridge system with the ASRock H61M/U3S3 motherboard, 2GB of RAM, and 60GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD. Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 x86_64 was used with the Linux 3.0 kernel as of 12 July, Mesa as of 12 July using git-5d0d836, and the xf86-video-ati / xf86-video-intel / xf86-video-nouveau DDX drivers as of 12 July. They were built using GCC 4.6.1, on an EXT4 file-system, and with X.Org Server 1.10.2. For the NVIDIA and Radeon hardware, the respective Gallium3D driver was used while for Intel Sandy Bridge there is only a classic Mesa driver available.

With a larger round of testing coming up in just a matter of weeks, we will jump straight to these July findings. Results are published for five tests from OpenGL games using the Phoronix Test Suite.

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