In recent weeks we have published a number of benchmarks showcasing the ATI Gallium3D driver that supports the R300-R500 graphics processors as this open-source driver has been maturing at such an exciting rate with impressive changes and measurable performance gains over a short period of time. This ATI Gallium3D driver in most instances is outperforming the classic Radeon Mesa driver that supports up through the ATI Radeon X1000 series graphics cards. However, how is the Nouveau driver maturing that supports NVIDIA's wide-range of GeForce graphics cards? In February we published some Nouveau Gallium3D benchmarks, but now we have a fresh set of numbers from three different NVIDIA graphics cards and we also compare the Nouveau Gallium3D driver to NVIDIA's proprietary Linux driver.
Sadly, the Nouveau driver remains to be just a community effort with no official support from NVIDIA even though the popular GPU company had dropped their open-source 2D driver. As such, the Nouveau driver has not been maturing as quickly as the open-source ATI Radeon driver stack that has more active developers along with official support from AMD. For our testing of the Nouveau Gallium3D driver today, we ran the open-source driver (and then NVIDIA's binary driver) on a NVIDIA GeForce 8500GT, GeForce 8800GT, and GeForce 9800GTX graphics cards.
The test system was based around an Intel Core i7 920 CPU clocked at 3.60GHz, an ASRock X58 SuperComputer motherboard, 3GB of system memory, a 320GB Seagate ST3320620AS, and a Samsung SyncMaster 30-inch 2560 x 1600 LCD display. On the software side, we were running an Ubuntu 10.10 daily snapshot with the Linux 2.6.35-5-generic (x86_64) kernel, GNOME 2.30.2 desktop, X.Org Server 1.8.2 RC2, xf86-video-nouveau 0.0.16, GCC 4.4.4, and an EXT4 file-system. Our open-source NVIDIA 3D driver was the Nouveau Gallium 0.4 driver in Mesa 7.9-devel as obtained from Mesa's Git master on 2010-06-26 with the latest libdrm from that day as well. The proprietary NVIDIA driver was the NVIDIA 195.36.24 driver as found in the Ubuntu Maverick repository at the moment. Compiz was disabled during all of the testing.
Benchmarks included OpenArena, World of Padman, Urban Terror, and Warsow, since all of these open-source games are capable of running with the current Gallium3D driver and Mesa state tracker. Each game was run at different resolutions from 800 x 600 through 2560 x 1600. Testing was done by the Phoronix Test Suite.