Back in August we looked at the gaming performance between Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.04 using a Lenovo ThinkPad W510, and the results were not too dramatic, but since then there has been a new release of Ubuntu (the 10.10 Maverick Meerkat) and new graphics hardware has been released. After receiving an ASRock Vision 3D system recently, which will soon be reviewed at Phoronix, we decided to compare its performance of the brand new GeForce GT 425M graphics processor under Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64 and Ubuntu 10.10 x86_64.
The GeForce GT 425M is one of NVIDIA's newest GPUs that launched in early September and is based upon their Fermi architecture for notebooks and small form factor devices such as the ASRock Vision 3D computer. The GT 425M supports technologies such as PhysX, 3D Vision, and Optimus. The Optimus technology allows seamless switching between GPUs, but sadly, it will not come to Linux. The NVIDIA GeForce GT 425M boasts 96 CUDA cores, 560MHz core clock, 1120MHz shader clock, and 1024MB of dedicated DDR3 memory clocked at 800MHz with a 128-bit interface. The other new Fermi-based notebook GPUs from NVIDIA include the GeForce GT 415M, GT 420M, GT 435M, GT 445M GTX 460M, and GTX 470M.
The ASRock Vision 3D system we are using for this comparison has an Intel Core i3 370M clocked at 2.40GHz (32nm, dual-core + Hyper Threading, 3MB of L3 cache, 35W TDP), ASRock HM55 motherboard, the GeForce GT 425M, 4GB of DDR3-1066MHz system memory, Blu-ray combo drive, and a 500GB 7200RPM Serial ATA 2.0 hard drive. The NVIDIA driver in use on the Windows side was their 260.66 driver release and on the Linux side was the 260.19.06 release. The open-source Nouveau driver does not yet provide Gallium3D support for Fermi hardware (there isn't even Fermi mode-setting support without 2D acceleration in Ubuntu 10.10 as it requires the Linux 2.6.36 kernel or later), but even if it did the performance would still be very slow.
The Windows 7 Ultimate x64 performance was compared to that of Ubuntu 10.10 x86_64 with the Linux 2.6.35 kernel, GNOME 2.32.0, X.Org Server 1.9.0, GCC 4.4.5, and an EXT4 file-system.
The OpenGL gaming tests we ran in this article included OpenArena, Urban Terror, Lightsmark, Unigine Sanctuary, Unigine Tropics, and Unigine Heaven as they are supported well under both Linux and Windows and are available via the Phoronix Test Suite for standardized, comparable results on both platforms. Besides the earlier gaming benchmarks on Windows and Linux, our other tests involving Windows 7 this year included Windows 7 vs. Linux workstation benchmarks, and Mac OS X 10.6.3 vs. Windows 7 vs. Ubuntu 10.04 benchmarks.
On a side note, this is our first Phoronix article where we are displaying a preview of the new result graphs rendered by very early code under Phoronix Test Suite 3.0 "Iveland" with its improved pts_Graph library. These graphs are much-improved from previous versions already, but we're not yet done and by the time Phoronix Test Suite 3.0 and OpenBenchmarking.org is launched in the first quarter of next year, there will be SVG-powered graphs in supported web browsers on Phoronix.com and within the Phoronix Test Suite Results Viewer. Not only are these graphs more visually pleasing, but also the standard error (SE) is reported for each result to confirm the statistical accuracy of all benchmark numbers and there are also error bar indicators shown where relevant. We are currently looking for feedback on these initial static graphs. Providing comments and more information on these Iveland graphing improvements can be found in this posting.