December 17, 2010 -- At the end of each year for the past five years we have delivered "year in review" articles looking at the performance of NVIDIA's (and ATI/AMD's) proprietary Linux drivers. Both in terms of new features introduced during the year in their driver updates and benchmarking the driver releases to see how the performance has evolved over twelve months. With 2010 coming to an end, it is time for this year's driver reviews. We are starting this year seeing how the NVIDIA performance has matured in 2010.
November 23, 2010 -- Yesterday we shared benchmarks of the ATI R600 Gallium3D driver compared against the classic Mesa R600 driver and then the proprietary AMD Catalyst driver. The proprietary driver was much faster than the open-source drivers were, but the Gallium3D driver did possess higher performance in most of the tests than with the classic Mesa driver. This is similar to the R300 Gallium3D driver being faster than its now-deprecated R300 classic driver. Meanwhile though Intel continues to back only their classic Mesa DRI driver and there are no signs of them switching over to the Gallium3D architecture anytime soon. It is not as if Intel's current Mesa driver is feature-complete and performance-optimized as our tests from earlier this year show Intel's Linux graphics performance being far behind their Windows driver. In this article though we are seeing where the Intel Mesa performance is at when using the very latest DRM and Mesa code.
November 22, 2010 -- While we are still waiting on open-source support for the AMD Radeon HD 6000 series of graphics cards that were released last month, today AMD is releasing their initial open-source support for their Ontario hardware. AMD's Ontario is their low-powered Fusion processor designed for use in netbooks and other such devices. This dual-core chip with integrated Radeon HD 6250 graphics is only starting to ship now, but the open-source support for this first AMD Fusion chip is now available to Linux users, complete with 3D support.
November 22, 2010 -- While we have already published two exciting articles today looking at the native ZFS file-system for Linux and also new benchmarks of OpenSolaris / BSD / Linux, here's a third article for the day. We might as well test our new Phoronix serving infrastructure while already having excess load today due to Slashdot, etc (it's good practice for OpenBenchmarking.org), so here are benchmarks of AMD's newest Gallium3D driver compared to their classic open-source Mesa driver and also their proprietary Catalyst driver. Oh yeah, a fourth article is also in the queue for today or the very near future when AMD has a major Linux driver announcement to share.
November 12, 2010 -- In August we reviewed Apple's Enhanced OpenGL Stack that was introduced as an update to Mac OS X 10.6.4. This Snow Leopard Graphics Update 1.0 came out following Valve bringing Steam and its games to Mac OS X and collaboration via Apple, NVIDIA, and ATI/AMD to better the Mac OS X graphics stack with supporting new OpenGL extensions and making other optimizations, such as adding OpenGL occlusion queries support. While we tested this major Apple graphics update under a NVIDIA MCP79-based Mac Mini, which is a GPU that did not receive as many performance optimizations as those higher-end NVIDIA ASICs in newer Macs, the performance improvements were noticeable in some cases. In select games, however, Ubuntu Linux with NVIDIA's proprietary driver was still faster than Mac OS X 10.6.4 + SLGU. With Apple having released Mac OS X 10.6.5 this week that "addresses stability and performance of graphics applications and games," among other changes, we have carried out some new Mac OS X benchmarks seeing how the performance has changed, if at all.
October 28, 2010 -- After years of development work by Tungsten Graphics (now VMware) and the open-source community at large, the Gallium3D driver architecture is finally getting ready to really enter the spotlight of the normal Linux desktop user. With the recent Mesa 7.9 release, the open-source ATI developers switched their R300 driver (that supports up through R500 ASICs, the Radeon X1000 series) from the classic Mesa to their newer Gallium3D driver as the default choice. Vendors are now preparing to do the same as well within Fedora and other distributions, and it was just agreed upon this week Ubuntu 11.04 will use R300g. There will finally be a real, common hardware driver that is based upon Gallium3D and is used by mass amounts of people on a daily basis in a production environment.
October 13, 2010 -- Last month we carried out our fourth annual Linux Graphics Survey in which we sought feedback from the Linux community about the most common graphics drivers and hardware in use, what display/GPU-related features desktop users are most interested in, and collect other metrics to aide developers. Here are the results from this year's survey.
October 08, 2010 -- While LLVM 2.8 was just released, we have been curious to see how the latest Low-Level Virtual Machine compiler code affects the performance of the LLVMpipe driver. This is the Gallium3D graphics driver that lives in Mesa and leverages the unique modular LLVM compiler to efficiently handle processing the graphics rendering workload on a modern CPU as a much faster alternative to that of their legacy software rasterizer. To see how much of a performance impact - for better or worse - that LLVM 2.8 has on this open-source software driver we tested it when being built with LLVM 2.6, 2.7, and the 2.8 SVN code.
October 06, 2010 -- Not only have we been busy testing Mesa 7.9 with the Intel and ATI/AMD drivers along with the Gallium3D drivers (including LLVMpipe), but the Nouveau driver that continues to be developed by the open-source community for NVIDIA GPUs received a fresh round of tests too. Our first published benchmarks of the Nouveau Gallium3D driver were back in February when it was nearing a decent state in terms of supported features and stability. Its DRM also finally entered the mainline Linux kernel earlier this year thereby allowing many Linux distributions to now use the Nouveau KMS driver even though not many have yet adopted the Gallium3D driver for OpenGL acceleration. We delivered updated Gallium3D benchmarks in June with the latest Mesa code at that point, but since then there was the integration of a new GLSL compiler into Mesa and many Nouveau changes, so here are our most recent OpenGL benchmarks from this open-source NVIDIA driver.
October 01, 2010 -- As we have talked about in numerous articles now and delivered various benchmarks for different graphics processors from those using a classic Mesa DRI driver to the newer NVIDIA/ATI hardware with Gallium3D support, Mesa 7.9 brings a lot to the table. There are many new features to be found in Mesa 7.9 for all drivers, but in this article, we are specifically looking to see how the OpenGL performance of the classic R600 driver has changed compared to Mesa 7.7 and Mesa 7.8.