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Intel/NVIDIA/AMD Compete On Open/Closed Source Linux GPU Driver Performance

Michael Larabel

Published on 8 July 2013
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 8 - 43 Comments

After recently delivering a 15-way open-source Intel/AMD/NVIDIA GPU comparison, here are the benchmarks when tossing in the proprietary AMD Catalyst and NVIDIA graphics drivers too. Besides comparing a diverse selection of graphics processors from the three main desktop GPU vendors, this comparison also shows how the current open-source Linux graphics drivers compare to the official proprietary drivers.

Testing happened from Fedora 19 KDE with the stock package selection found "out of the box" on this latest Red Hat sponsored Linux distribution release. Fedora 19 ships the Linux 3.9 kernel, Mesa 9.2-devel, and the latest X.Org drivers.

The graphics processors being compared in this article include the Intel HD Graphics 4600 (Haswell from a Core i7 4770K CPU) and then on the AMD side is the Radeon HD 5830, HD 6450, HD 6770, HD 6870, HD 6950, HD 7850, and HD 7950. On the NVIDIA GeForce product selection was the 9500GT, 9800GT, GTX 460, GTX 550 Ti, and GTX 680. The slimmer GeForce card selection comes down to traditionally AMD sending over more hardware samples to Phoronix than NVIDIA and that on the open-source driver side many NVIDIA GPUs are still problematic with Nouveau. The graphics card selection overall for this open vs. closed driver testing is slimmed down than the earlier 15-way open-source comparison since the older Radeon graphics cards no longer supported by the mainline Catalyst graphics driver were removed.

All testing happened from Fedora 19 on the Intel Core i7 4770K "Haswell" system. Aside from the stock Fedora 19 setup, the AMD Catalyst driver tested was the 13.6 Beta (OpenGL 4.2.12337 / fglrx 13.10.10) and the NVIDIA 319.32 binary driver for the GeForce GPUs. Intel has no proprietary Linux driver to test but all of their efforts are focused around their open-source Linux graphics driver.

All of this Linux OpenGL benchmarking was handled via the open-source Phoronix Test Suite software. The selection of Linux OpenGL games were limited to those that run well on Mesa across Radeon Gallium3D, Nouveau Gallium3D, and the Intel Mesa DRI driver -- of course, the games also run fine on AMD Catalyst and NVIDIA's binary driver too.

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