June 18, 2010 -- Last week prior to heading over to Germany for LinuxTag, I had ran a new set of ATI R500 Gallium3D benchmarks with an ATI Radeon X1950PRO graphics card and comparing the latest Mesa/Gallium3D graphics driver performance in the Mesa 7.9-devel Git code with both the Gallium3D and classic Mesa DRI drivers to the older Mesa stack found in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. The ATI "R300g" driver as its known continues to advance, and over the past week this driver has pushed forward even more. Here is another set of ATI Gallium3D tests.
June 16, 2010 -- There was a talk last week at LinuxTag in Berlin by Egbert Eich about kernel mode-setting and the DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) graphics stack on Linux. Egbert is, of course, a long-time X developer and openSUSE developer at Novell who was one of the masterminds behind the RadeonHD graphics driver and has worked on various pieces of X over the years. In Egbert's brief KMS talk he briefly covered the history of the Linux graphics stack, the user and kernel-space APIs for DRM mode-setting, and related topics. For those that missed out on his talk, below are his slides.
June 07, 2010 -- The past several months have been very exciting in the world of Gallium3D, the new graphics driver architecture for Linux and other operating systems that has been in development for years. This year we have witnessed the emergence of LLVMpipe to accelerate OpenGL commands on the CPU, Nouveau's Gallium3D driver starting to work well, and many other advancements. Over the past few months we have also been pleased with how the "R300g" driver has taken shape with this Gallium3D driver for ATI Radeon R300/400/500 series hardware (up through the Radeon X1000 series) stabilizing, performing well, and advancing beyond the classic Mesa 3D R300 driver. Today we have a fresh set of benchmarks looking at this ATI Gallium3D driver that soon will become the default.
May 26, 2010 -- Last week NVIDIA released their first 256.xx proprietary beta Linux display driver that brought many VDPAU improvements, installer improvements, support for new GLX extensions, various bug-fixes, and other enhancements. However, some user reports have shown the 256.xx driver is actually slower than NVIDIA's current pre-200.xx series drivers and so we have carried out a set of tests to see what things are looking like from within our labs. Our preliminary tests do indeed illustrate a drop in performance when upgrading to this new driver.
May 25, 2010 -- Yesterday we reported on VIA's Linux dreams not materializing with their GEM/TTM memory management support still missing even though we are half-way into 2010 -- more than two years after VIA announced its most recent open-source initiative. It turns out, however, for what VIA views as its memory management work is actually done. VIA has inconspicuously handed over some of its code to the OpenChrome developers in order to create a new driver that has been dubbed the "openvia" driver. VIA has supposedly provided the source-code to an X driver plus TTM/GEM DRM, but this new project largely remains a hidden mystery.
May 11, 2010 -- Last week we reported that the open-source ATI Linux driver had picked up improved power management in the form of dynamic power management and power management profiles that can be defined by the end-user. With the ATI Linux power management finally coming to fruition within the Linux kernel for its kernel mode-setting / DRM driver, we have decided to take a close look at how this power management support is working in the real world.
April 30, 2010 -- The software rasterizer used in Mesa that allows for software acceleration of OpenGL on the CPU without any assistance from the graphics processor has largely been useless. Even with a modern-day, multi-core processor, the performance of Mesa's software rasterizer has been abysmal. The performance of Mesa classic DRI drivers have traditionally been poor anyways compared to the high-performance, proprietary NVIDIA/ATI graphics drivers, but when dealing with just the software rasterizer there really aren't any games or applications that run well. Fortunately, software acceleration on Gallium3D is very much a different story thanks to LLVM.
April 15, 2010 -- We have already published a look at the Fedora 13 Beta, delivered ATI Radeon benchmarks atop Fedora 13 Beta, and have other articles on the way covering this new Fedora release, while in this article we are investigating Nouveau's power performance using this newest Fedora release. If you are a mobile user planning to use the Nouveau stack right now, or you care the least bit about energy savings with your desktop, its power consumption alone may rule this open-source driver out as even a current possibility.
April 15, 2010 -- With the release of Fedora 13 Beta earlier this week we have been testing out this Red Hat update on a few of our test systems. One area of interest to us has been to see how the open-source graphics are performing with Fedora 13, since after all Red Hat is known to always ship the very latest DRM/Mesa/DDX bits in Fedora due to all of their upstream involvement and this week is also the Fedora 13 Graphics Test Week. We already looked at the direction of Intel graphics with Fedora 13, so our next target was testing out the open-source ATI graphics with this Linux desktop release that is codenamed Goddard. In this article, we have ATI R500 tests using their open-source driver stack as we test out the OpenGL performance and the power consumption, compared to Fedora 12.
April 10, 2010 -- Yesterday we delivered benchmarks showing how the open-source ATI Radeon graphics driver stack in Ubuntu 10.04 is comparing to older releases of the proprietary ATI Catalyst Linux driver. Sadly, the latest open-source ATI driver still is no match even for a two or four-year-old proprietary driver from ATI/AMD, but that is with the classic Mesa DRI driver. To yesterday's results we have now added in our results from ATI's Gallium3D (R300g) driver using a Mesa 7.9-devel Git snapshot from yesterday to see how this runs against the older Catalyst drivers.