Display Drivers Archives
July 2011 Open-Source Graphics Driver Comparison

Following last week's benchmarks of Intel's New Sandy Bridge Acceleration architecture with the very latest open-source driver code, it was decided to throw a few NVIDIA and ATI/AMD graphics cards into the mix to see where the open-source driver performance is comparatively at for some other hardware. This article presents these Linux graphics results for eight configurations.

22 July 2011 - 11 Comments
Testing Out Mesa's GLSL-To-TGSI Translator

Being merged into the mainline Mesa tree once Mesa 7.11 has been released is the GLSL-To-TGSI translator. This allows core Mesa to translate directly from GLSL IR to TGSI, rather than stepping through the crufty Mesa IR, before reaching the Gallium3D hardware drivers. It's more efficient this way -- leading to possible performance improvements -- and it's also a stepping-stone in bringing GL Shading Language 1.30 support, which is required for OpenGL 3.0 compatibility.

21 July 2011 - 26 Comments
AMD Radeon HD 6000 Gallium3D Attempts To Compete With Catalyst

Open-source code supporting the AMD Radeon HD 6000 "Northern Islands" GPU hardware has been available since January, but only in the past few days has this Linux code matured to the point of being stable and useful for testing. In this article are our first benchmarks of the AMD Northern Islands and Cayman graphics processors using the open-source Mesa Gallium3D driver and comparing its performance to AMD's proprietary Catalyst driver.

14 July 2011 - 68 Comments
Windows 7 vs. Linux w/ Sandy Bridge New Acceleration Architecture

The new benchmarks going out today on Phoronix are looking at the performance of Intel's Sandy Bridge graphics with the latest Microsoft Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux drivers. Not only are we using the very latest drivers, but there is also a separate Linux test run with SNA, the "Sandy Bridge New Acceleration" architecture enabled.

13 July 2011 - 9 Comments
Intel's Gallium3D Driver After Google's Work

As noted last week on Phoronix, Google has Chromium OS engineers making improvements to Intel's Gallium3D driver even though this open-source Linux driver isn't officially supported by Intel Corp. Google's interested in shipping the Intel Gallium3D driver on their Chromium OS netbooks in order to take advantage of the Low-Level Virtual Machine (LLVM) and other Gallium3D features to make up for the netbook's lack of vertex shader hardware. How does this community-maintained Intel 3D driver now compare performance-wise to Intel's official classic Mesa driver? Here is a fresh set of benchmarks from the latest Mesa Git code over the US holiday weekend.

7 July 2011 - 23 Comments
Nouveau Driver Power Management Against The NVIDIA Blob

Following last week's completion of the Radeon driver power management tests against the AMD Catalyst driver, now it is time to turn the tables on NVIDIA. In this article are some power consumption and thermal tests when comparing the latest open-source "Nouveau" driver code against NVIDIA's closed-source proprietary driver.

6 July 2011 - 14 Comments
Radeon Driver Power Management Has Room For Improvement

Today on Phoronix are not only new benchmarks of the proprietary Catalyst graphics driver compared to the open-source Radeon Linux driver alternative when looking at the OpenGL frame-rates, but also metrics on a number of other fronts. In this article is a graphics driver comparison when looking at the system power consumption, GPU operating temperature, and CPU usage too. The results are quite interesting and not commonly looked at on Phoronix or by users.

28 June 2011 - 52 Comments
Open-Source Radeon HD 6000 Series Still Borked

The first of the AMD Radeon HD 6000 "Northern Islands" graphics cards launched late last year, and while the open-source Linux driver support is technically there for those interested in this alternative to the proprietary Catalyst driver, the support is still largely broken. Here is a quick look.

25 June 2011 - 98 Comments
A Fresh Look At The Nouveau Gallium3D Performance

Last week we provided a fresh look at the AMD Radeon Gallium3D performance using the latest development code for the Linux 3.0 kernel and Mesa 7.11 library. Today we are now looking at the Gallium3D driver performance of the Nouveau driver that is reverse-engineered to support NVIDIA GeForce graphics processors.

16 June 2011 - 9 Comments
A Fresh Look At The AMD Radeon Gallium3D Performance

As noted earlier in the week, the open-source AMD Radeon "R600g" driver that supports 3D acceleration on Radeon HD 2000 series graphics cards through the latest Radeon HD 6000 and Fusion graphics processors, is becoming quite fit. The driver is nearing a point of stability, is mature enough for most desktop users, and it is beginning to receive some performance optimizations and other improvements. Thanks to this recent work, plus the ongoing development of the Linux 3.0 kernel, here is a fresh set of AMD Gallium3D Linux driver benchmarks.

10 June 2011 - 56 Comments
Radeon Gardenshed DRM + Gallium3D Benchmarks

It has been about a month since we last delivered ATI/AMD Radeon Linux benchmarks comparing the performance of the open-source driver against the high-performance proprietary driver. Since that point there's been various improvements to the Mesa/Gallium3D driver and there's also been the merge of the latest Radeon DRM code for the next kernel, which will likely be called the Linux 3.0 kernel, but in the DRM pull request was referred to as Gardenshed. Here are these benchmarks on several different Radeon graphics cards.

27 May 2011 - 33 Comments
A Historical Look At Intel Ironlake Graphics Performance

For the past five months when mentioning Intel graphics at Phoronix, it's been pretty much about their latest-generation Sandy Bridge hardware and most recently about their next-generation Ivy Bridge. The talk has either been about new hardware enablement, performance improvements, or bad regressions. In this article, we are going a generation back to look at how the Clarkdale/Arrandale-Ironlake graphics performance has evolved under Linux over the course of Ubuntu releases.

25 May 2011 - 3 Comments
Intel SNB Linux Driver Can Out Run Windows Driver

While last week we reported Intel Sandy Bridge graphics support is still troubling in Ubuntu 11.04 and also the support broke at the last minute in Linux 2.6.39, there's really good news to report this week from the Sandy Bridge Linux land. When using the very latest working Linux driver code, in many cases the OpenGL performance of this open-source driver stack is now faster than Intel's official Windows 7 driver.

23 May 2011 - 17 Comments
Open-Source AMD Fusion Driver Stabilizes

With the very latest open-source Linux driver code for the AMD Fusion E-350, the support is finally stable and comparable to that of other recent Radeon HD graphics processors with the open-source driver stack.

19 May 2011 - 32 Comments
Whoops, Intel SNB Is Borked At The Last Minute In Linux 2.6.39

This morning after writing Intel Sandy Bridge On Ubuntu 11.04 Is Still Troubling, I proceeded to build the latest Mesa / Linux kernel / libdrm / DDX Git stack to see where the latest Intel SNB code is at and how it's running for the popular Core i5 2500K processor. Before leaving three weeks ago, everything was running great, but to much surprise, this morning it was a broken mess. Intel just regressed hard in their Sandy Bridge support for the about-to-be-released Linux 2.6.39 kernel. Whoops!

18 May 2011 - 15 Comments
Intel Sandy Bridge On Ubuntu 11.04 Is Still Troubling

When Intel released their "Sandy Bridge" processors in early January with next-generation graphics, the Linux support was widely criticized as although they had been working on the open-source Linux driver for nearly one year at that time, it wasn't a pleasurable "out of the box" experience and building open-source graphics drivers on Linux can be a real pain. With Ubuntu 11.04, which was released at the end of April, this "Natty Narwhal" release still largely misses the Sandy Bridge support train.

18 May 2011 - 3 Comments
A Look At Nouveau Driver Power Usage

There's been many individuals asking how the work is going in tracking down the major Linux kernel power regression I brought to light late last month (actually, there's at least two power regressions in the kernel). Not much progress has been made since then as I've been out of the office (and country) so I've been preoccupied with other matters, but I do happen to have another power test today to satisfy other reader requests.

11 May 2011 - 8 Comments
May 2011: Gallium3D vs. Classic Mesa vs. Catalyst

The open-source graphics driver landscape is ever changing with new work going into Mesa / Gallium3D near daily. While many improvements have been made in recent time, the open-source drivers have a ways to go in competing with the proprietary competition. Even the open-source AMD driver, which is developed using documentation from AMD as well as code and engineering resources within the company, it has a tough time competing with the well-optimized Catalyst driver. Fortunately, the AMD driver is now largely centered on the two Gallium3D drivers: R300g and R600g, and have pushed away their classic Mesa DRI drivers into maintenance mode. The R300g supports the R300 through R500 ASICs (up through the Radeon X1000 series) while the R600g driver supports all ATI/AMD hardware past that point up through the latest Radeon HD 6000 series and Fusion. In this article, we are seeing where the performance is currently at for the classic Mesa, Gallium3D, and Catalyst drivers under Linux.

4 May 2011 - 28 Comments
Open-Source AMD Fusion Graphics Still Mixed

While AMD was very fast to provide open-source Fusion graphics driver support under Linux (along with official support in their proprietary Catalyst driver), the support has not ended up working out too well for us. It has regressed since the November push. As mentioned in March, the E-350 Fusion Linux support took a dive in terms of its graphics support with some outstanding bugs. Since then, the support has improved and is now largely usable, but there are still some big issues.

29 April 2011 - 16 Comments
Test Driving The QEMU-KVM KMS Driver

Just hours ago a new Linux KMS driver entered the world for the Cirrus GPU. Yes, as in that from Cirrus Logic for an ancient CL-GD5446 ASIC, this was a 2D-only 64-bit VisualMedia accelerator. But, fortunately, it is not for the actual hardware itself but rather the virtual incarnation that is emulated by QEMU and QEMU-KVM. Those running a Linux KVM virtualization stack with QEMU and the Cirrus adapter can now benefit from a kernel mode-setting driver.

19 April 2011 - 3 Comments
Where The Open-Source AMD Driver Is At For Modern GPUs

Earlier this week Sapphire launched the Radeon HD 5830 Extreme using the well-supported "Cypress LE" graphics processor at a very competitive price relative to the NVIDIA competition and the Radeon HD 5830 graphics cards from other AMD partners. With it being part of the HD 5000 series and not one of the newer HD 6000 series graphics processors, the Linux support is already spot-on for both the official Catalyst Linux driver and within the open-source stack. In this article are the open-source Gallium3D benchmarks for the Radeon HD 5830 along with other recent ATI/AMD GPUs to show where the latest Mesa/Gallium3D code is at today.

15 April 2011 - 60 Comments
The Major Open-Source ATI Improvements Over Two Years

The open-source ATI/AMD Radeon Linux driver stack has made a lot of improvements in recent times with their Gallium3D drivers becoming mature across all generations and support for new features (such as DRI2 page-flipping) landing in the mainline code and beginning to make its way to users. The time required to bring up support for new generations has also been reduced greatly and with the Radeon HD 8000 series there should be a turning point for their open-source strategy. In this article, we are providing an updated look at the course of the open-source driver's performance for the past two years.

11 April 2011 - 53 Comments
Another Look At The Open-Source Nouveau With Fermi

Earlier this week was benchmarks of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 "Fermi" with the open-source Nouveau driver. The reverse-engineered Nouveau support for the GeForce 400/500 series is incomplete and requires users to generate their own custom firmware before there is even 2D/3D/video acceleration support. The initial tests on the GeForce GTX 460 also yielded a disturbingly large performance difference between the open-source and closed-source NVIDIA drivers, where as with previous generations of NVIDIA GPUs the performance difference is more manageable. Here is another look at Nouveau for Fermi, but this time from a GeForce GTX 485M.

2 April 2011 - 12 Comments
Intel Sandy Bridge Performance Goes Up Again

At the beginning of the month I reported on a small patch to Mesa that resulted in a huge performance improvement for Intel Sandy Bridge graphics, but Intel's OSTC developers have bumped up the performance of the latest-generation graphics processors even more. With the LLC caching patch-set, which should be committed to the Linux 2.6.40 kernel (not the current 2.6.39 cycle), there are measurable OpenGL performance improvements.

31 March 2011 - 31 Comments
Benchmarking The New Radeon R300 Register Allocator

This morning I mentioned that work from last year's Google Summer of Code project on improving the ATI Radeon R300 compiler for the Mesa Gallium3D driver had never stopped. Tom Stellard's latest R300 GLSL compiler work has been focused on improving the register allocator. Tom's initial figures showed roughly a 10% boost for software with intensive OpenGL shaders, but here is what my test results show for this yet-to-be-merged code.

29 March 2011 - 5 Comments
NVIDIA GeForce 400 "Fermi" Series On Nouveau

With NVIDIA still not providing any open-source support or technical documentation for their graphics processors, for those in the open-source community who seek to use their GeForce 400/500 "Fermi" GPUs without NVIDIA's binary driver, they are left to use the reverse-engineered, community-created Nouveau driver. Fortunately, the support for the NVIDIA Fermi GPUs is coming along at a respectable pace -- with even working OpenGL acceleration -- considering that NVIDIA is providing no support at all. In this article are the first benchmarks of this experimental GeForce 400/500 "Nouveau NVC0" driver versus NVIDIA's official proprietary driver.

29 March 2011 - Add A Comment
Nouveau's OpenGL Performance Approaches The NVIDIA Driver

As I began to share over the weekend, the community-created Nouveau driver that's open-source and is written by clean-room reverse-engineering the NVIDIA binary display driver, has reached a serious milestone. For low-end NVIDIA GPUs, the Nouveau driver based upon the Mesa Gallium3D architecture is now as fast, or even faster, than NVIDIA's official proprietary driver.

21 March 2011 - 94 Comments
Intel Graphics Get A Boost With Linux 2.6.38, Mesa 7.11

Earlier this week I talked about the direction of ATI Radeon graphics in Ubuntu 11.04, which is quite positive with there being measurable 3D performance improvements in the latest open-source driver code, after a week prior talking about a massive Intel Sandy Bridge performance fix that is able to now put the open-source Linux performance closer to being on-par with Intel's Windows OpenGL driver. How though is the performance of Intel's previous-generator Clarkdale/Arrandale graphics looking? Quite good too. Here are some quick benchmarks.

12 March 2011 - 27 Comments
The Direction Of ATI Radeon Graphics In Ubuntu 11.04

With Ubuntu 11.04 arriving in a little more than a month, the key packages to be found in this "Natty Narwhal" release are nearly settled. For those concerned about the open-source ATI graphics stack, the packages to note are the Linux 2.6.38 kernel, Mesa 7.10.1, and xf86-video-ati 6.14.0. What does this mean for the conventional user? This article provides a brief look at the state of open-source ATI in Ubuntu 11.04.

8 March 2011 - 24 Comments
Intel Sandy Bridge VA-API Performance

There have been a number of Intel Sandy Bridge articles on Phoronix since the January launch of this next-generation Intel CPU micro-architecture. It's ranged from the Linux support being challenging to dealing with motherboard problems and then the graphics performance being fast relative to previous generations of Intel graphics and for being based upon the classic Mesa driver architecture, but much slower than Windows. Last week then the Sandy Bridge Linux performance became much more interesting after a simple patch led to a huge performance win to the point that the open-source Linux driver performance is much closer to their full-featured Microsoft Windows driver. What is the next chapter in the Intel Sandy Bridge Linux story? A look at the VA-API video acceleration playback performance.

7 March 2011 - 48 Comments

730 display drivers articles published on Phoronix.