With Mesa 7.8 arriving this month, we took the time to benchmark a few recent releases of the Mesa 3D stack with the Radeon DRI driver to see how the OpenGL performance has changed -- if at all -- over the past few months. In this article are our R500 Mesa benchmarks from the Mesa 7.6, 7.7, 7.8-rc1, and 7.9-devel releases.
We built the Mesa 7.6, 7.7, 7.8-rc1, and 7.9-devel (pulled from Git on 2010-03-19) from source on an Ubuntu 10.04 development system with the Linux 2.6.32-16-generic kernel, GNOME 2.29.92, X.Org Server 1.7.5, xf86-video-radeon 6.12.191, and GCC 4.4.3. Releases prior to Mesa 7.6 could not be tested as the 3D support was effectively broken. An Intel Core i3 530 processor with an ECS H55H-M motherboard, 2GB of DDR3 system memory, a 64GB OCZ Vertex SSD, and the graphics card was an ATI Radeon X1950PRO (RV570), powered the system.
We tested these four Mesa releases by running World of Padman, Tremulous, OpenArena, and Urban Terror within the Phoronix Test Suite. Each game was tested at eight different resolutions: 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1280 x 1024, 1400 x 1050, 1680 x 1050, 1600 x 1200, 1920 x 1080, and 2560 x 1600.
There was not too much deviation in performance under World of Padman with the Mesa 7.7, 7.8-rc1, and 7.9-devel version, but the frame-rate for these newer versions of Mesa was a definitive improvement over Mesa 7.6. Between Mesa 7.6 and 7.7 the OpenGL performance improved by close to 40%. Only when testing at 2560 x 1600 was the frame-rate close between Mesa 7.6 and 7.7/7.8/7.9.
While gains with the more recent versions of Mesa were spotted in World of Padman, with the Tremulous game the performance was almost identical between the four tested versions of the open-source Mesa stack with the Radeon R500 driver.