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.
4 March 2011 - 25 Comments
While Intel remains to be the only major graphics vendor standing strong behind their classic Mesa driver on Linux for open-source support rather than drawing up plans to move to the Gallium3D driver architecture, there is actually available a Gallium3D driver available for Intel hardware. This Intel Gallium3D driver has been around since close to Gallium3D's inception, but it targets the older generations of Intel IGPs and was developed by VMware as a proof of concept. The driver is incomplete, but our testing shows that for those with Intel 945 netbooks and other hardware, the "i915g" driver is usable. In this article are benchmarks showing how this Intel Gallium3D driver compares to Intel's officially supported classic Mesa DRI driver.
26 February 2011 - 11 Comments
AMD put out a rare beta Linux driver this Monday and they have now just announced the release of the Catalyst 11.1 driver as their stable monthly update for Linux and Windows users. With this Catalyst driver, there is though one interesting but hidden feature that is sure to please many ATI/AMD Radeon Linux desktop users.
26 January 2011 - 73 Comments
Earlier this month I reported on good and bad news for the Nouveau Gallium3D driver with the good news being that for the hardware that played well with this reverse-engineered open-source driver, the OpenGL performance was not too bad in most instances compared to NVIDIA's official proprietary driver. There still is quite a difference in performance between the two NVIDIA Linux drivers, but it is a usable experience in a number of cases and is not too bad for Nouveau being a community-driven driver. However, the bad news was that non-GeForce 8 hardware had regressed to being non-functioning. Since that article, however, using code that is some more recent I have the GeForce 9 and GeForce 200 acceleration working again. The current code though leaves a lot to be desired.
21 January 2011 - 148 Comments
A week ago I reported on the open-source ATI driver becoming a lot faster thanks to the KMS page-flipping support finally landing in the mainline Linux kernel and xf86-video-ati driver, tiling improvements, and lots of work going into the R300g/R600g Gallium3D drivers. The open-source ATI Gallium3D is not conclusively faster than the proprietary Catalyst driver is, but it's becoming a much more competitive race. In last week's article an ATI Mobility Radeon GPU was used to illustrate these improvements, but in this follow-up article are the Linux benchmark results for three discrete Radeon graphics cards using the stock Ubuntu 10.10 open-source ATI driver, the last R500-supported Catalyst Linux driver, and then the latest open-source driver bits from the Linux 2.6.38 kernel.
19 January 2011 - 59 Comments
For the past year or so we have been fascinated by the LLVMpipe driver on Mesa's Gallium3D driver architecture for accelerating OpenGL on your CPU (or any other Gallium3D state tracker) as a means of a more efficient and viable software rasterizer for Linux. Mesa's long-standing software rasterizer (swrast) driver is slow and next to useless while LLVMpipe is many times faster thanks to leveraging the Low-Level Virtual Machine and other optimizations atop Gallium3D. However, in order to run a basic OpenGL game purely on the CPU you still need a powerful CPU, but we are pleased to find there are some noticeable performance improvements to be found in Mesa 7.10.
17 January 2011 - 22 Comments
In testing of OpenBenchmarking.org and preparations for the release of Phoronix Test Suite 3.0-Iveland at the end of February from SCALE, a lot of benchmarks have been happening to test the various analytical features and other new capabilities of this open benchmarking platform. In fact, it is really an overwhelming amount of benchmarks; the power capacity in my office is maxed out as benchmark after benchmark and system after system there is all sorts of test scenarios being looked upon. The benchmarks coming out on Phoronix.com over the past two months have just been barely scratching the surface of what has been going into the OpenBenchmarking.org system. Recently a lot of OpenCL compute benchmarks were pumped in, and since we have only published a few OpenCL Linux benchmarks -- OpenCL on Linux vs. Mac OS X and OpenCL NVIDIA vs. ATI on Linux -- here's some more in this article.
14 January 2011 - 23 Comments
Now that the kernel mode-setting page-flipping for the ATI Radeon DRM kernel module has been merged into the Linux 2.6.38 kernel and the respective bits have been set in the xf86-video-ati DDX, we're in the process of running new open-source ATI graphics benchmarks under Linux. Our initial results (included in this article) show these latest improvements to cause some major performance boosts for the open-source ATI driver as it nears the level of performance of the proprietary Catalyst driver.
13 January 2011 - 116 Comments
With our big AMD Linux GPU / driver comparison we found its open-source Gallium3D driver to be noticeably faster than the classic Mesa DRI driver across an array of Radeon hardware from multiple generations. However, the official Catalyst driver was multiple times faster (roughly 5.18x faster) than the Gallium3D driver, not to mention its lack of proper support for OpenGL 3/4, VA-API/VDPAU/XvBA video playback, and many other features only found within the proprietary Catalyst driver. Now though it is time to see how the Gallium3D Nouveau performance compares to that of NVIDIA's proprietary Linux driver across different GeForce graphics cards.
10 January 2011 - 33 Comments
As was alluded to in our New Year greeting, we have been working on a massive graphics card / driver comparison under Linux. Beginning with ATI/AMD hardware, we have tested a series of graphics cards spanning the Radeon X1000, HD 2000, HD 3000, HD 4000, and HD 5000 generations using the very latest drivers. These drivers include the official Catalyst 10.12 Linux release as well as the very latest development code for the open-source Mesa and Gallium3D drivers. The results for seven ATI GPUs spanning four generations with three drivers are quite interesting.
5 January 2011 - 201 Comments
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