April 11, 2011 -- 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.
April 02, 2011 -- 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.
March 31, 2011 -- 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.
March 29, 2011 -- 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.
March 29, 2011 -- 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.
March 21, 2011 -- 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.
March 12, 2011 -- 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.
March 08, 2011 -- 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.
March 07, 2011 -- 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.
March 04, 2011 -- After some initial Linux troubles, last month we finally got Intel Sandy Bridge graphics working under Linux. The latest Intel CPUs (such as the Core i5 2500K) with integrated graphics are blazingly fast, and the classic Intel Mesa driver was fast compared to other open-source Mesa / Gallium3D drivers, but it still was a ways behind the low-end discrete graphics cards with the proprietary AMD / NVIDIA drivers for Linux. It was also shown that the Intel Linux Mesa driver is much slower than the Intel Windows driver for Sandy Bridge, as we had also found was the case for previous generations of Intel graphics. Committed to the Mesa mainline Git repository this week though was a very important Sandy Bridge change. While the commit only touched 13 lines of code (11 lines of new code, 2 lines of changed code), it has dramatically improved the Sandy Bridge Linux performance as our results show in this article.