1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking.org

A 14-Way Comparison Of NVIDIA vs. Nouveau Drivers

Michael Larabel

Published on 9 November 2011
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 10 of 24 - 21 Comments

That about covers all of the general details for the various generations of NVIDIA graphics cards being tested. Simply put, the NVIDIA binary Linux driver support is generally spot-on in terms of features and performance to the Windows driver. There are a few exceptions, like the lack of Fermi overclocking support and NVIDIA Optimus support, but overall there is not much more than one could ask from their binary blob.

When it comes to the Nouveau driver support, there is usually a lot to be desired. The performance of the Nouveau driver with Gallium3D is usually much slower than the proprietary driver (though the Radeon Gallium3D situation isn't too different, except when Nouveau fails at re-clocking to the nominal speeds), the support usually comes several months after the hardware launches due to no support from NVIDIA and the clean-room reverse-engineering that must take place on limited manpower, and there's far from being a feature parity to NVIDIA's official Linux driver.

The Nouveau driver can be usable for those that just care about a basic composited Linux desktop for office and Internet tasks, but for gaming and other demanding workloads it is not too viable. Nouveau use-cases are also limited for many due to the lack of reputable power management and fan management support. For mobile users with the Nouveau driver can find themselves with a very warm laptop. Mobile and desktop users can also be annoyed by the Nouveau driver, due to the associated noise level by pushing the fan at its maximum speed by default.

Making matters worse for Nouveau is that due to the lack of official NVIDIA support and the only documentation coming about via community reverse-engineering, is that regressions are all too common in Mesa/Gallium3D and the kernel driver, which leads to the Russian Roulette situation. With frequently testing different hardware and driver combinations, I am commonly hit with show-stopping regressions in the mode-setting becoming either borked or stability issues under OpenGL workloads, which seem to be the most common problems.

This testing was done using the latest Mesa 7.12-devel (Git master), xf86-video-nouveau DDX, and Linux 3.2 kernel as of 7 November. Ubuntu 11.10 x86_64 was the operating system used with the Unity desktop. The latest NVIDIA binary Linux driver was also utilized. The setup used for this NVIDIA graphics card testing was the AMD FX-8150 "Bulldozer" kit. Both drivers were tested in their stock configurations. This includes driver options and the default Nouveau performance levels, etc.

Besides running a variety of OpenGL games/benchmarks that are capable of running on the open-source Mesa/Gallium3D in the stock configuration, additional tests were carried out by the Phoronix Test Suite to look at the CPU usage, GPU core temperature, and system power consumption for the range of NVIDIA graphics cards under both drivers.

Now let's begin with the results...

Latest Linux Hardware Reviews
  1. A Walkthrough Of The New 32 System Open-Source Linux Benchmarking Test Farm
  2. Habey MITX-6771: Mini-ITX Board With Quad-Core J1900 Bay Trail
  3. OCZ Vector 150 SSD On Linux
  4. Noctua i4 CPU Cooler: Great For Cooling High-End LGA-2011v3 CPUs
Latest Linux Articles
  1. AMD Kaveri: Open-Source Radeon Gallium3D vs. Catalyst 14.12 Omega Driver
  2. 12-Way AMD Catalyst 14.12 vs. NVIDIA 346 Series Linux GPU Comparison
  3. AMD Catalyst 14.12 Omega Driver Brings Mixed Results For Linux Users
  4. 6-Way Winter 2014 Linux Distribution Comparison
Latest Linux News
  1. After 10+ Years, NetworkManager Reaches v1.0
  2. VDPAU Updated To v0.9
  3. An Open Hardware Random Number Generator Proposed
  4. LLVM 3.6 Will Be Branched Next Month
  5. Opera Browser Puts Out Linux Updates For The Holidays
  6. GNOME Shell 3.15.3 Adds Support For High-Contrast Themes
  7. Linux 3.19: ThinkPad Muting Redone, New Dell Backlight Support, Acer Is Banging
  8. KVM Drops Support For IA64 While Adding Various x86 Improvements
  9. GCC 4.8.4 Officially Released
  10. FSF's High Priority Project List Now Has A Committee
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. XLennart: A Game For Systemd Haters With Nothing Better To Do
  2. Need some hand holding with upgrading xserver
  3. Debian init discussion in Phoenix Wright format
  4. The New SuperTuxKart Looks Better, But Can Cause GPU/Driver Problems
  5. FPS capped on Linux (AMD fglrx drivers)
  6. Are there an app using HSA ?
  7. Bench specific mount point
  8. Tool for measuring FPS in games