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Intel Linux Driver For Ivy Bridge Still Catching Up To Windows

Michael Larabel

Published on 31 May 2013
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 3 - 17 Comments

After yesterday's Intel Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge Linux graphics comparison using the very latest Intel Linux graphics driver, here are new benchmarks using the latest Windows and Linux Intel OpenGL graphics driver. Facing competition this morning is Microsoft Windows 7 Pro x64 and Ubuntu 13.04 with its updated open-source stack.

Past Windows vs. Linux testing of Intel hardware with their in-house graphics driver has been mixed. Lately, the Linux OpenGL driver has been slower than Windows although the Linux driver has matured greatly. Back in 2011 though there was a time for Sandy Bridge hardware that the Linux driver could out perform the Windows driver, but then Intel came out with a feisty new Windows driver.

Besides the Windows driver outrunning the Linux driver, Intel's graphics driver under the Microsoft OS has also allows for taking full advantage of the graphics core's OpenGL capabilities. The Linux driver meanwhile with Mesa 9.1 stable is just at OpenGL 3.1. OpenGL 3.2~3.3 support is nearly complete and should be ironed out before year's end with Mesa 9.2, but this is at a time when Haswell is about to launch with full OpenGL 4 support. It's unfortunate, but don't get your hopes up for seeing OpenGL 4.0 compliance on Linux with the Intel Mesa driver before 2014. Beyond OpenGL, the Windows graphics driver supports OpenCL on the GPU side while the Linux driver really doesn't. There is the Beignet project but it isn't feature complete and has been even criticized by open-source developers.

Anyhow, out today are new benchmarks to see if the performance situation has changed on the Windows vs. Linux side when using an ASUS Ultrabook when using Intel HD 4000 Ivy Bridge graphics from an Intel Core i3 3217U low-power processor. Benchmarks occurred from Microsoft Windows 7 Pro x64 with the updated Intel Windows graphics driver against Ubuntu 13.04 x86_64 and then pulling in the Linux 3.10 Git kernel as of 30 May along with the latest Mesa 9.2.0 Git development driver and xf86-video-intel 2.21.8 Git.

Benchmarking on both Windows and Linux was handled in a fully automated and reproducible manner using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software. The results in this article can be compared against your own system's OpenGL implementation by simply running phoronix-test-suite benchmark 1305303-UT-WINDOWSLI14. The selection of games was chosen based upon those that work well with the Intel Windows/Linux driver (mostly a concern on the Mesa side) and where the game's port is of similar quality/richness on both platforms.

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