With AMD having published the Catalyst 11.12 driver yesterday, the year is now complete as far as their graphics drivers are concerned. As such, for the sixth year, it's time for the year-in-review articles looking at how the NVIDIA and AMD GPU drivers have matured over the past twelve months in terms of features and OpenGL performance.
A thorough performance look at the Intel Core i7 3960X "Sandy Bridge" Extreme Edition processor will be published very soon, but in this article are some benchmarks of using Gallium3D's LLVMpipe driver on this six-core processor with Hyper Threading.
The year began with Intel launching their "Sandy Bridge" processors. While the CPU performance was very impressive for these latest-generation Intel processors, the graphics performance under Linux was a problem. The drivers were not ready in time. Well, they actually were technically available, but in Git source form and not easy for Linux desktop customers. There were also some initial hurdles in the Sandy Bridge Linux graphics support. However, over the past year, the Intel OSTC developers working on the open-source graphics support have dramatically improved the situation. As this article recaps the performance over the past year, Sandy Bridge is now rocking under Linux and Ivy Bridge is ready to go.
What happens if you build Mesa/Gallium3D with LLVM's Clang compiler or the LLVM DragonEgg plug-in with GCC? It has been asked before, so here is an answer.
It's been a while since last looking at the state of power management for Radeon GPUs, but here's an updated look at the various options surrounding power management for modern ATI/AMD graphics processors and their effectiveness. Various drivers, graphics cards, and tuning options are compared.
For those that are thinking about trying out the Sandy Bridge New Acceleration (SNA) architecture option for 2D graphics acceleration by the xf86-video-intel X.Org Linux driver, here are some benchmarks from the recent xf86-video-intel 2.17 release.
Earlier this month I showed the Intel graphics performance hasn't improved much in the Linux 3.2 kernel (but there might be a boost when RC6 is flipped on), but how is this new kernel shaping up for NVIDIA hardware owners wishing to use the open-source and reverse-engineered Nouveau driver? In this article are some benchmarks of the Nouveau DRM driver from recent Linux releases.
As reported earlier this week, HiZ support is now ready for Intel Sandy Bridge graphics under Linux with the Mesa driver. A set of more than three dozen patches were published that finalize this support for Sandy Bridge (Gen6) while the Ivy Bridge (Gen7) support is almost there but there are some performance regressions still being worked out by Intel's OSTC developers.
Back in September I provided the most comprehensive AMD Radeon Linux graphics comparison that took 28 graphics cards from all supported ATI/AMD Radeon product families and tested them under Linux using the latest Catalyst driver as well as the open-source Mesa/Gallium3D driver. In this article is a similar comparison on the NVIDIA side as I take most of the GeForce graphics cards at my disposal and try them under the NVIDIA binary Linux driver and the community-developed open-source "Nouveau" driver. Not only is the OpenGL performance looked at for multiple generations of NVIDIA hardware, but the thermal and power consumption is compared too. In certain OpenGL workloads, the open-source Linux driver is now faster than NVIDIA's own driver for select graphics cards in a fair comparison, but overall the NVIDIA blob still reigns supreme.
While KVM may be very fast for Linux virtualization, one of the areas where VMware and VirtualBox are superior is when it comes to the ability to provide hardware-accelerated 2D/3D support to guest virtual machines that ultimately is passed onto the host and its graphics card / driver. In this benchmark is a look at the gaming performance of Oracle's VM VirtualBox 4.1 when using their "Chromium" driver to enable guest Linux OpenGL acceleration.
A few days back when testing the Linux 3.1 kernel with Intel's Sandy Bridge hardware and then the Intel RC6 power-savings support, I also ran some updated benchmarks of SNA, the new Intel acceleration architecture available from their graphics driver.
In September the 2011 Linux Graphics Survey came to an end, but due to Oktoberfest, AMD Bulldozer Linux testing, OpenBenchmarking.org developments, and other matters, I didn't have time to look at the survey results until this weekend when getting ready for the Ubuntu Developer Summit. Here's the 2011 results looking at what Linux desktop end-users are running when it comes to graphics cards and drivers as well as their key concerns.
The Linux 3.1 kernel was released earlier this week and it further enhances the Intel Sandy Bridge graphics support while also prepping the open-source kernel driver for Intel's next-generation Ivy Bridge processors.
While there's many ongoing improvements for Intel's Sandy Bridge graphics and the next-generation Ivy Bridge graphics within the Linux kernel, Mesa, and xf86-video-intel (namely the SNA acceleration for the DDX), here's some benchmarks from two older Intel systems using the latest Linux 3.1 kernel to see if there are any improvements there.
Here's something interesting or perhaps odd: AMD has been porting the open-source Radeon Linux driver to Windows Embedded Compact 7 (WEC7) as its graphics driver.
If you are not taken by today's release of Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot", here are some new Radeon graphics benchmarks comparing the Catalyst driver on Ubuntu 11.10 to the latest R600g driver from Mesa 7.12-devel on the soon-to-be-released Linux 3.1 kernel.
Tom Stellard, the former Google Summer of Code student who worked on ATI R300 GLSL compiler improvements and a new register allocator, has been looking into the area of Radeon OpenCL support while now being employed by AMD. However, Tom is working on other open-source Radeon work too. Recently he made improvements to the R300g driver's instruction scheduler to make better use of the texture semaphore.
While there are still several days left of this year's Oktoberfest, to take a short break this morning from benchmarking the wonderful beer, food, and Bavarian females, here are benchmarks of the new Intel HiZ Linux support. Just a few days ago a new, nearly ready patch-set was published for implementing hierarchical Z support within Intel's Mesa DRI driver.
While it's rare for a few days to pass at Phoronix without pulling the latest development code for Mesa / Gallium3D and the Linux kernel DRM in order to run updated Radeon, Intel, and Nouveau Linux graphics benchmarks, LLVMpipe isn't benchmarked as commonly. LLVMpipe is the new CPU-based software acceleration method for the Gallium3D that leverages the Low-Level Virtual Machine to provide better performance than the classic Mesa software rasterizer or Softpipe. Fortunately, upon running a brand new set of tests, the results show a bit more promise but there is still much work ahead.
While AMD's open-source strategy was announced on Phoronix on 7 September 2007, it was on 17 September of the same year that the Novell/SUSE developers did their first public release of their xf86-video-radeonhd driver. This was the X.Org driver created by the Novell Linux engineers in months prior for R500 and R600 GPUs. Here is some special reading -- a letter that was volleyed from Novell to AMD that kicked off this entire process -- to celebrate what would have been the fourth birthday of this open-source Linux driver.
After the benchmarks a few days back of Intel Sandy Bridge Acceleration On Non-SNB Hardware, Chris Wilson of Intel who has been responsible for much of the "Sandy Bridge New Acceleration" work requested more tests, but this time to see the effect that the compositing window manager has on this new acceleration architecture. As a result, here is some quick tests of Intel's Sandy Bridge graphics under the Unity, Unity 2D, and GNOME Shell desktops.
Last week benchmarks were published of Intel's New Sandy Bridge Acceleration architecture (SNA) that showed several performance improvements for 2D and 3D, but the new acceleration architecture still wasn't mature with a few regressions compared to the normal UXA back-end. While the focus of this SNA support is on speeding up operations for Sandy Bridge (SNB) and forthcoming Ivy Bridge (IVB) hardware, SNA is supported for older Intel graphics processors too. Here are some benchmarks of the Sandy Bridge New Acceleration architecture when using the Ironlake and Gen3 back-ends.
In preparing for XDC2011 Chicago, the X.Org developers' summit that begins in just ten days that I have organized, the schedule is being worked out at the moment. One of the items that is set to be talked about at XDC2011 during the Nouveau driver discussion is TimeGraph. This is an open-source GPU command scheduler that sounds fairly interesting.
In early June there was the introduction of the Sandy Bridge New Acceleration Architecture by Intel that dramatically excelled the 2D and 3D performance of their processor graphics on their Sandy Bridge hardware along with previous-generation IGPs. Here is a look at how the SNA acceleration architecture is performing today.
A month ago we looked at the Radeon HD 6550D graphics performance from the AMD Fusion A8-3850 (a new "Llano" APU) under Linux when using the Catalyst driver. However, bugs at the time had barred a comparison of the Llano graphics under Linux with the open-source Mesa/Gallium3D driver. Fortunately, we now have a working open-source Radeon driver configuration to deliver these comparative AMD Llano Linux OpenGL benchmarks.
While the Linux power consumption may be up on recent kernels depending upon your hardware configuration, there's a few known but not too commonly used tweaks for reducing your system power consumption and extending your battery life when using Intel integrated graphics on your favorite Linux distribution.
While the BFS scheduler is getting ready to celebrate its second birthday, in just three weeks AMD's open-source Radeon graphics driver strategy for Linux will be turning four years old. It was on the 6th of September in 2007 that I exclusively broke the news to the world on AMD's open-source strategy, which has ended up being a game-changer in the Linux world. AMD continues to support open-source hardware enablement on their latest graphics processors and recently even hired more developers to work on the code and documentation. How far have they come though in four years?
Besides boosting the Intel Sandy Bridge performance, the Linux 3.1 kernel is also great for open-source graphics in that it has improved support for NVIDIA GeForce 400/500 "Fermi" graphics cards via the reverse-engineered Nouveau driver. The Linux kernel has already supported kernel mode-setting for these GPUs and then more recently there was 2D/X-Video acceleration as well as 3D acceleration when paired with the Nouveau Gallium3D "NVC0" driver. The accelerated support though has required manually extracting the graphics processor's microcode after the GPU was initialized by the proprietary driver. With the Linux 3.1 kernel, Nouveau can generate its own "FUC" microcode to circumvent this problem. In other words, there is now "out of the box" open-source support for NVIDIA GeForce 400/500 graphics cards.
Last week the DRM pull went in for the Linux 3.1 kernel. For the Intel DRM graphics driver in the Linux kernel there is frame-buffer compression clean-ups, high color support, ring frequency scaling, shared LLC support, and hang-check module disabling. Compared to the Linux 3.0 kernel, the driver improvements significantly boost the open-source graphics performance for Intel Sandy Bridge hardware.
After a short delay, Mesa 7.11 has been released. This is the user-space library for providing OpenGL support under Linux for the open-source Intel, ATI/AMD, and NVIDIA drivers, among other hardware and software-based drivers. The Mesa 7.11 release also offers updates to the Gallium3D driver architecture. Here is some of what you can expect to find on Mesa 7.11.
730 display drivers articles published on Phoronix.