Image Quality Comparison: Radeon Gallium3D vs. Catalyst
Written by Michael Larabel in AMD on 13 February 2012 at 05:25 AM EST. 106 Comments
Coming up in the next few days will be benchmarks of Mesa 8.0 with Morphological Anti-Aliasing (a.k.a. MLAA) plus some other imaging-oriented work/announcements to come in the near future. With that said, this weekend prior to leaving for Munich I ran some tests of the Radeon Gallium3D and Catalyst drivers when comparing the image quality.

This article is just a first-look from Mesa 8.0 and the proprietary Catalyst driver with two supported graphics cards. As a bonus is also a Radeon X1800XL on the R300g driver to show how the image quality compares to the R600g driver.

The screenshots in this article are of Nexuiz since there is the Nexuiz Image Quality test profile on OpenBenchmarking.org for use by the Phoronix Test Suite. While it's the raw performance, power consumption, CPU usage, or other metrics that I commonly look at on Phoronix.com, the Phoronix Test Suite has full support as well for doing image quality comparisons. It can also look for pixel-by-pixel differences, among other features, with the Phoronix Test Suite. I implemented all of that back in 2009 as talked about in this article, but it's just not used so often in the public spotlight. For example, anyone can run their own image quality comparison by running phoronix-test-suite benchmark nexuiz-iqc.

Anyhow, first up are some Nexuiz screenshots with a Radeon X1800XL on Mesa 8.0 R300g, Radeon HD 5770 on Mesa 8.0 R600g, and the Radeon HD 5770 on Catalyst fglrx 8.91.4 as found in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. There's some subtle differences if looking closely.


Now to end off this very brief preview, here's some screenshots of the Radeon HD 6570 graphics card on Mesa 8.0 R600g and Catalyst fglrx 8.91.4 from the same software stack as used in the other tests. Additionally, since this is just a two-way comparison, the third render was generated by the Phoronix Test Suite analyze-image-delta option. This analytical option compares the two images on a pixel-by-pixel basis and highlights differences on the third composite.

About The Author
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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