April 09, 2010 -- We are in the process of conducting a set of tests looking at how the performance of Ubuntu Linux has evolved through their Long-Term Support (LTS) releases beginning with their first 6.06 "Dapper Drake" version followed by Ubuntu 8.04 "Hardy Heron", and then the Ubuntu 10.04 "Lucid Lynx" release that will be released by month's end. These benchmarks will look at how the performance of Ubuntu Linux has changed over the past four years, but first we deviated from our original plans to get a look at how the current open-source ATI R500 graphics driver in Ubuntu 10.04 provided by the Mesa stack performs against older proprietary ATI Catalyst drivers.
March 29, 2010 -- Over the past two weeks, we have published a variety of articles looking at different aspects of the open-source Linux graphics stack. These articles range from comparing the Gallium3D and classic Mesa performance to comparing the kernel mode-setting and user-space mode-setting performance. Today we are continuing with this interesting Linux graphics coverage by publishing benchmarks comparing the performance of the Radeon Mesa DRI graphics driver to AMD's Catalyst 10.4 proprietary driver. Is the open-source driver finally catching up to AMD's highly optimized driver? Continue reading to find out.
March 26, 2010 -- NVIDIA's open-source Linux efforts as it concerns their GPU support have historically been minimal. The xf86-video-nv driver has been around that provides very basic 2D acceleration and a crippled set of features besides that (no proper RandR 1.2/1.3, KMS, power management, etc) while the code has also been obfuscated to try to protect their intellectual property. However, NVIDIA has decided to deprecate this open-source driver of theirs. No, NVIDIA is not working on a new driver. No, NVIDIA is not going to support the Nouveau project. Instead, NVIDIA now just recommends its users use the X.Org VESA driver to get to NVIDIA.com when installing Linux so they can install their proprietary driver.
March 26, 2010 -- Last week we published benchmarks looking at the ATI Radeon KMS vs. UMS performance and found the user-space mode-setting support with the ATI driver (that is also limited to using DRI1 with these older code-paths) to perform significantly faster than the newer kernel mode-setting routes in most instances. To see how the performance difference is on the Intel side between the kernel mode-setting and user-space mode-setting implementations we ran a set of benchmarks on this side as well using Ubuntu 10.04.
March 25, 2010 -- With Mesa 7.8 arriving this month, we took the time to benchmark a few recent releases of the Mesa 3D stack with the Radeon DRI driver to see how the OpenGL performance has changed -- if at all -- over the past few months. In this article are our R500 Mesa benchmarks from the Mesa 7.6, 7.7, 7.8-rc1, and 7.9-devel releases.
March 23, 2010 -- Earlier this month AMD rolled out a new workstation graphics card driver, which is effectively the same Catalyst driver used by the consumer-oriented Radeon graphics cards but with greater testing and certification for the ATI workstation offerings. The press release announcing this new driver was titled "Application Performance Increases By Up To 20 Percent with Latest ATI FirePro Graphics Driver," so we decided to see if this proprietary driver really lives up to its claims under Linux.
March 22, 2010 -- Gallium3D, the graphics driver architecture started by Tungsten Graphics to overhaul the hardware driver support in Mesa, has been around for a few years but it is finally getting close to appearing on more desktop systems. Now that the Nouveau DRM code is in the mainline Linux kernel and its main 3D driver is Gallium3D-based, we will hopefully be seeing that adopted by more distributions soon -- it's already being flipped on with Fedora 13. On the ATI side the "r300g" Gallium3D driver that provides Gallium3D support for the R300-R500 (up through the Radeon X1000 series) is also being battered into surprisingly good shape. To see where the Radeon Gallium3D support is at for these older ATI graphics cards we have run a set of tests comparing the OpenGL performance under the latest Mesa 7.9-devel code with the Gallium3D driver to running the classic Mesa DRI driver.
March 18, 2010 -- Earlier this week we published comparative benchmarks of Mandriva, PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu, and openSUSE. In the discussion that followed, a number of people requested a set of tests that compare the performance of the ATI Radeon Linux graphics driver stack with kernel mode-setting (KMS) vs. user-space mode-setting (UMS), so today we have such results to deliver.
February 17, 2010 -- As we shared a few days ago, Fedora 13 will provide OpenGL acceleration support for NVIDIA graphics cards via the Nouveau driver when installing the Mesa DRI experimental drivers package. There is finally 3D acceleration for NVIDIA graphics cards using an open-source driver on Linux without having to depend upon NVIDIA's official binary driver. What makes this open-source 3D support for NVIDIA GPUs even more interesting is that it is atop the Gallium3D driver architecture rather than classic Mesa. With that said, we are providing early benchmarks of the Nouveau Gallium3D driver in Fedora 13 with two GeForce graphics cards as we compare the performance to NVIDIA's official Linux driver.
February 09, 2010 -- As we alluded to last week, we have been in the process of benchmarking many Radeon HD 2000/3000/4000 series graphics cards using the open-source ATI Linux graphics stack with the Mesa R600/700 DRI driver. We have now carried out our first batch of R600/700 3D tests using this constantly evolving open-source driver to provide OpenGL acceleration and here are the results.