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Nouveau Performance Is Faster With Linux 3.12

Michael Larabel

Published on 15 October 2013
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 4 - 7 Comments

In following the AMD Radeon performance is incredible on Linux 3.12 article that benchmarked ten different AMD graphics cards on the Linux kernel, followed by the reason why AMD Radeon graphics are faster on Linux 3.12, here's now some benchmarks of the open-source NVIDIA driver with GeForce graphics cards. The testing in this article is a few NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards with the Nouveau driver when comparing the Linux 3.11 and 3.12 kernels in a similar fashion to the AMD Linux OpenGL performance testing. Like the AMD results, there are some notable gains to find with the yet-to-be-released 3.12 kernel.

If you didn't read the two previous articles, do so first as there is a lot of information to cover. Long story short, the Nouveau driver performance can also benefit from the CPUfreq changes found in the Linux 3.12 kernel. However, for the Nouveau driver the performance improvements will be a tougher find unless you happen to have a GeForce GPU working well with re-clocking. With most modern NVIDIA GPUs by default having low clock speeds and Nouveau not supporting Fermi/Kepler re-clocking yet and other GPUs having haphazard support, you may not see improvements from the 3.12 kernel. If your GPU is stuck running at a low clock-speed or you have a slow graphics processor to begin with, you're less likely to see any impact by the CPUfreq ondemand governor improvement.

For the testing done today, a NVIDIA GeForce 9800GTX, NVIDIA GeForce GT 220, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 were used in testing Nouveau on the Linux 3.11 and 3.12 kernels with an Ubuntu 13.10 x86_64 base operating system. The Core i7 4770K Haswell system was still the base hardware for the testing. The NVIDIA GeForce GT 220 and 9800GTX both successfully were able to manually re-clock (see the Nouveau re-clocking steps) while the GeForce GTX 680 "Kepler" doesn't yet have support for re-clocking in the open-source driver. I had also attempted to test the GeForce 8600GT, 8800GT, 9800GT, and a couple of other older NVIDIA graphics cards but they all either had rendering artifacts or stability issues when running at their re-clocked frequencies.

As with all tests at Phoronix.com, the tests were done in a fully automated and reproducible manner using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite software. On the following pages are the Nouveau tests that were done just today following the Radeon Linux 3.12 CPUfreq discoveries. There were also today's Linux 3.12 performance governor tests if you missed those as well like the AMD APU benchmarks on Ubuntu Linux.

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