LLVMpipe is gaining traction on the Linux desktop as means of being the default software-accelerated OpenGL fallback. The open-source LLVMpipe driver is even being used for the Unity desktop and GNOME Shell fallback by some distributions when no GPU driver is available (although KDE doesn't plan to take the LLVMpipe route). In this article are benchmarks showing the Gallium3D LLVMpipe performance if attempting to run OpenGL games on this driver running atop a modern CPU.
In this article are just some reference benchmarks of the Mesa 9.0 release when using LLVMpipe on a high-end Intel Core i7 3960X CPU, a.k.a. the Sandy Bridge Extreme Edition processor. The Intel Core i7 3960X is still retailing for $1029 USD with its six physical cores plus Hyper Threading and 3.3GHz base frequency with 3.9GHz Turbo frequency. The i7-3960X EE remains one of the absolute best desktop CPUs currently available, well, until the Intel Ivy Bridge Extreme Edition processors make it out there. The i7-3960X LLVMpipe numbers are basically the best-case results now with even a slightly older CPU performing significantly worse for this software rasterizer.
With the Mesa 9.0 release, LLVMpipe is still officially at OpenGL 2.1 compliance and comes up short of OpenGL 3.0 support even though this is a software driver. For these benchmarks, the lightweight OpenArena, World of Padman, Urban Terror, and Warsow games were run at a variety of resolutions from 640 x 480 to 1920 x 1080 to show the Gallium3D LLVMpipe performance at various resolutions and how well the performance scales for this Intel processor with 12 logical cores and the latest instruction set extensions like SSE4 and AVX.