Now that I've shared eight good features and eight bad traits of Mesa 8.0, which is the open-source graphics hardware library that's now supportive of OpenGL 3.0, it's time to begin looking closer at the performance. In this article are benchmarks of ATI/AMD Radeon graphics cards spanning five generations to show how the Mesa 8.0 performance compares to the previous release (Mesa 7.11) and the proprietary Catalyst driver.
Mesa 8.0 was branched from Git master on Wednesday and is set to be officially released in early February. There's been many benchmarks on Phoronix in the months since the release of Mesa 7.11 last June, but these are the first benchmarks since it became Mesa 8.0 and was branched, which now puts it in a bug-fixing and feature-freeze state. Previously the Mesa version was set as 7.12-devel, until the OpenGL 3.0 / GLSL 1.30 support was complete.
The graphics cards being tested in this near-final testing of Mesa 8.0 include the Radeon HD 6950, Radeon HD 5750, Radeon HD 4670, Radeon HD 3850, and Radeon X1800XL.
If you have not done so already, before jumping to the results be sure to first read:
Eight Reasons You Can Enjoy Mesa 8.0 - There's new hardware support, video playback improvements, a nearly re-written VMware driver, Gallium3D enhancements, better CPU-based software acceleration, Android support, etc.
Where Things Fall Short: Eight Shortcomings Of Mesa 8.0 - Shortcomings include incomplete OpenGL 3.0 compliance, missing support for newer versions of OpenGL, no OpenCL support, slow performance, no mainline S3TC support, other patented features being disabled, and missing hardware support.
Besides the Radeon Mesa 8.0 benchmarking, tests under the Nouveau Gallium3D (for NVIDIA GeForce hardware) and Intel Sandy Bridge performance tests will also come in future articles doing a similar comparison to this Mesa 8.0-devel vs. Mesa 7.11 vs. Catalyst driver roundabout. The “R600" Gallium3D driver bangs the Radeon HD 3850/4670/5750/6950 graphics cards in Mesa 8.0 while the older “R300" Gallium3D driver powers the Radeon X1800XL graphics card. Coming up for Mesa 8.1 will also be a new Gallium3D driver that is needed for supporting the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series.