A month ago we compared Intel's graphics performance between Ubuntu 8.10 and the latest Ubuntu 9.04 daily snapshot at the time. With those tests we found Intel's performance had degraded significantly. However, with many new graphics packages having been released since then, we have carried out some additional tests this morning to look at where the Intel Linux graphics performance stands today.
For this testing we used a Lenovo ThinkPad T400 notebook containing an Intel Core 2 Dup T9600 processor clocked at 2.80GHz, Intel Mobile 4-Series IGP Chipset, 1440 x 900 display, 160GB ST9160823AS hard drive, and 2GB of DDR2 system memory. Ubuntu 8.10 is made up of the Linux 2.6.27 kernel, X Server 1.5.2, xf86-video-intel 2.4.1, and Mesa 7.2, which were the latest stable packages at the time of the feature freeze for the Intrepid Ibex. Integrated as of the January 24th build of Ubuntu 9.04 is the Linux 2.6.28 kernel, X Server 188.8.131.521 (1.6.0 RC1), xf86-video-intel 2.6.1, and Mesa 7.3-rc3. The updated Mesa stack supports the Direct Rendering Infrastructure 2 and other features as we talked about in this Mesa 7.3 article. Additionally, the updated kernel supports the Graphics Execution Manager for GPU memory management. Both Ubuntu 8.10 and 9.04 were left at their defaults, which includes the use of EXA acceleration for both.
Managing our testing was the Phoronix Test Suite. For this set of tests we simply used OpenArena and QGears2, but we will certainly run more tests once Ubuntu 9.04 nears a finalized state. Originally, we were also going to use World of Padman and Urban Terror as well, but with the ThinkPad T400 and Ubuntu 8.10 they were unable to successfully finish. We will also do more testing of the packages being built from source atop the same distribution for all testing.