NVIDIA's Linux Driver On Ubuntu 14.10 Can Deliver Better OpenGL Performance Than Windows 8.1
Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 31 October 2014. Page 1 of 5. 51 Comments

Yesterday we looked at the Windows vs. Ubuntu 14.10 Intel OpenGL performance using Haswell HD Graphics to kick off our latest round of Windows vs. Linux OpenGL driver benchmarking. Out today is now our NVIDIA GeForce graphics card comparison on Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu 14.10 using the latest NVIDIA binary drivers. NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980 Maxwell graphics cards were tested as well as the mature GTX 780 Ti.

The same Intel Core i7 4770K system used for yesterday's Windows vs. Linux graphics benchmarks were used when benchmarking the GeForce GTX 780 Ti, 970, and 980 graphics cards. Windows 8.1 Pro x64 had all available system updates at the time and was running the NVIDIA 344.48 WHQL binary driver that was their latest release at the time of testing. When running Ubuntu 14.10 x86_64 on the system with its Linux 3.16 kernel, the NVIDIA 343.22 driver was used. The 343.22 driver was the latest publicly available proprietary Linux driver at the time of testing and their first to support the GTX 970/980 under Linux. All of the same hardware was used under each operating system and each OS was with its software default settings as were the driver settings.

Testing of the open-source NVIDIA (Nouveau) Linux driver was left out since it's simply not up to scratch. The GeForce GTX 970/980 graphics cards aren't yet supported by the Nouveau driver, with the GeForce GTX 750 Maxwell support still being worked on and for that original Maxwell GPU doesn't yet even have re-clocking support or the ability to provide acceleration without first initializing the GPU with NVIDIA's binary blob in order to produce a firmware/microcode dump. The GeForce GTX 780 Ti will run with Nouveau, but re-clocking is incomplete so the performance is less than stellar with the graphics card not running at its rated frequencies.

Following this article will be the AMD Linux vs. Windows testing that will include the open-source Radeon driver too given its more mature and near feature complete state. All of the OpenGL benchmarking under Windows and Linux was done using the Phoronix Test Suite using OpenGL games / tech demos known to be of similar quality and performance potential under both Linux and Windows.