We have been covering the Linux benchmarking scene since 2004, but one area we have never really been satisfied with have been the OpenGL tests that are available. There are now plenty of free software games that are available for benchmarking, but with most of them being based around the open-source Quake 3 engine, they aren't that demanding upon the graphics processor. The ones generally good with stressing the graphics capabilities of the system are the id Software games (Doom 3, Quake 4, and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars) with native Linux clients. Under the workstation umbrella, there is just SPECViewPerf. On the Windows side though there are a number of OpenGL and DirectX games, tech demos, and other benchmarks. Thanks in part to the Phoronix Test Suite, however, we are starting to see a new era of OpenGL benchmarking that are able to stress the graphics card and are visually pleasing.
The Phoronix Test Suite has about 70 tests and 32 suites currently, but we are always looking for new and more demanding benchmarks. Currently we are in talks with several ISVs on integrating their software within the Phoronix Test Suite and to encourage them to port their software to the Linux platform where needed. Two of the projects we have been working with have been Lightsmark and Unigine.
Lightsmark is an OpenGL lighting benchmark (hence its name) that focuses upon real-time global illumination and penumbra shadows. This is a benchmark that's built around the Lightsprint SDK. Lightsmark 2008 was released this morning with a faster engine, improved image quality with per-pixel indirect shadows and color bleeding, all GPUs using the same render path, and a steadier scoring system. More importantly, however, this is the first public release with native Linux support. This lighting benchmark now fully supports both 32-bit and 64-bit Linux.
Running Lightsmark 2008 on Linux with a modern graphics card is able to deliver stunning results. Among the individual areas tested within this benchmark are real-time radiosity, global illumination, infinite light bounces, High Dynamic Range, color bleeding, indirect lighting, area lighting, hard shadows, soft shadows, and penumbra shadows.
Lightsmark 2008 is distributed freely and can be acquired from the Lightsmark website. Of course, we would recommend you run this benchmark from within the Phoronix Test Suite (v1.0.5 or newer). Running it within the Phoronix Test Suite will take care of downloading and installing Lightsmark automatically for x86 and x86_64 installations, taking care of the needed dependencies (GLEW, GLUT, and FreeImage), running the process with the selected resolution(s), and reporting the results. It's as easy as running phoronix-test-suite benchmark lightsmark. With a modern graphics card you can expect an average frame-rate of several hundred FPS. Lightsmark results uploaded to the web from the Phoronix Test Suite can be viewed here.
One of the other OpenGL benchmarks we have been after is using the Unigine engine. Unigine is a real-time engine that focuses upon photorealistic 3D capabilities for both gaming and virtual reality (VR) systems. Unigine has rendering engines for DirectX 9, DirectX 10.1, and OpenGL. Some of the other important features of the Unigine engine are multi-core CPU support, live physics, 3D sound, and some of the renderer capabilities (per-pixel dynamic lighting, 64-bit color HDR, volumetric fog and light, fire/smoke/explosion particle systems, GLSL/HLSL shaders, etc). For more information, check out the Unigine website.
A demo of the Unigine engine is available for both Windows and Linux, but in the coming days Unigine Corp will release an updated Linux version of the engine that does include a Phoronix benchmarking mode. Currently the Phoronix benchmarking mode is with their "Sanctuary demo", but at least one other demo scene is actively being worked on. Once this Linux benchmark is publicly available, we will have more information on it along with providing the Phoronix Test Suite profile.
Both Unigine and Lightsmark are able to effectively stress the system (particularly the graphics) and we are pleased to announce them as additions to the Phoronix Test Suite. Instantly these are now two of the best OpenGL demos available for the Linux platform. Head on over to Phoronix-Test-Suite.com to download the latest version, which includes the Lightsmark profile and a few other profile updates. Many thanks go out to everyone involved, particularly Wuppermann, Stepan Hrbek, Alexander Zaprjagaev, and Denis Shergin.