6-Way Ubuntu 14.10 Radeon Gallium3D vs. Catalyst Driver Comparison
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 29 October 2014. Page 1 of 4. 17 Comments

As a follow-up to last week's Ubuntu 14.04 vs. Ubuntu 14.10 AMD Performance Comparison and yesterday's Radeon R9 290: Gallium3D vs. Catalyst driver comparison, here's taking things further in looking at the performance of the open-source AMD Radeon Linux graphics driver in several configurations while compared against the closed-source AMD Catalyst graphics driver as found on Ubuntu 14.10.

The results in this article use six different Radeon graphics cards of multiple generations to show the performance of:

- Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS out-of-the-box with the open-source Radeon graphics driver at the time. Ubuntu 14.04.1 ships with the Linux 3.13 kernel, xf86-video-ati 7.3.0, and Mesa 10.1.3 as the notable graphics driver components.

- Ubuntu 14.10 out-of-the-box with the Linux 3.16 kernel, xf86-video-ati 7.4.0, and Mesa 10.3. Ubuntu 14.10 was just released last week.

- Ubuntu 14.10 when upgrading to the latest open-source Radeon Linux graphics driver code via using the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel PPA for Linux 3.17 and using the Oibaf PPA for Mesa 10.4-devel and xf86-video-ati 7.5.99.

- Ubuntu 14.10 while installing the fglrx-updates package from the Utopic archive to enable the AMD Catalyst Linux graphics driver (fglrx 14.20.7 / OpenGL 4.4.12968).

The tested graphics cards were those that ran out-of-the-box going back to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS earlier this year (which excludes hardware like the Radeon R9 290 where it only started working nicely on the open-source driver and isn't even accelerated out-of-the-box on Ubuntu 14.10 or the brand new Radeon R9 285 where there is no open-source support currently). With that said, the tested graphics cards for this six-way AMD GPU comparison with the four driver/OS configurations were:

- Radeon HD 4870
- Radeon HD 5770
- Radeon HD 6870
- Radeon HD 7850
- Radeon HD 7950
- Radeon R9 270X

With the HD 4870 we had to leave it out of the Catalyst testing on Ubuntu 14.10 since its proprietary driver support has long been dropped and the legacy driver is no longer compatible with modern Linux distribution releases due to xorg-server/kernel ABI changes.

All of the benchmarking in this article was facilitated using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software. While this is a nice look at the open-source vs. closed-source drivers, for those wondering about the latest Windows vs. Linux figures, I'll have some results coming out later this week and will be looking at the latest AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel graphics drivers. If you appreciate this frequent and exclusive benchmarking done at Phoronix, please consider subscribing to Phoronix Premium for ad-free browsing and viewing large articles (such as this one) all on a single page. Thanks and let's get straight to the results.

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