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Nouveau With Mesa 7.9 Is Better, But Still Slow

Michael Larabel

Published on 6 October 2010
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 3 - 26 Comments

Not only have we been busy testing Mesa 7.9 with the Intel and ATI/AMD drivers along with the Gallium3D drivers (including LLVMpipe), but the Nouveau driver that continues to be developed by the open-source community for NVIDIA GPUs received a fresh round of tests too. Our first published benchmarks of the Nouveau Gallium3D driver were back in February when it was nearing a decent state in terms of supported features and stability. Its DRM also finally entered the mainline Linux kernel earlier this year thereby allowing many Linux distributions to now use the Nouveau KMS driver even though not many have yet adopted the Gallium3D driver for OpenGL acceleration. We delivered updated Gallium3D benchmarks in June with the latest Mesa code at that point, but since then there was the integration of a new GLSL compiler into Mesa and many Nouveau changes, so here are our most recent OpenGL benchmarks from this open-source NVIDIA driver.

This test system was running with an Intel Core i5 750 CPU clocked at 2.67GHz with a Turbo Frequency of 3.2GHz, an ECS P55H-A motherboard, 4GB of DDR3 system memory, a 500GB Western Digital WD5000AADS-0 SATA HDD, an Acer P243W LCD monitor, and for the NVIDIA graphics cards we used a NVIDIA GeForce 8600GTS 256MB (675/1008MHz) and NVIDIA GeForce 9800GTX 512MB (675/1100MHz).

On the software side, we were running an Ubuntu 10.10 development snapshot with the latest Linux 2.6.36 kernel code from Git as of 2010-09-08, X.Org Server 1.9.0, xf86-video-nouveau 0.0.16, GCC 4.4.5, Mesa 7.9-devel Git master as of 2010-09-08, and an EXT4 file-system. The Nouveau Gallium3D driver for Mesa 7.9-devel was tested, but unfortunately the Nouveau driver in the Mesa 7.8 branch for Mesa 7.8.3 is currently broken so we had just used this most recent Mesa code with the NVIDIA NV84 (8600GTS) and NV92 (9800GTX) graphics cards. We did compare the performance of the Mesa drivers though to that of NVIDIA's official Linux driver using the NVIDIA 260.19.04 beta driver, which implements OpenGL 3.3.0 support (and OpenGL 4.0 for newer hardware) compared to OpenGL 2.1 with Gallium3D.

Benchmarks were done via the Phoronix Test Suite and included OpenArena, World of Padman, Nexuiz, and Urban Terror.

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