1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking.org

Performance Counters Stuck For Linux GPU Drivers

Free Software

Published on 02 February 2013 10:41 AM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software
6 Comments

While it mostly concerns developers, another current shortcoming of the open-source Linux graphics drivers is the lack of suitable performance counters support.

During Ian Romanick's discussion at FOSDEM about, "GPU hardware detection for automatic configuration of game quality/performance settings", Martin Peres of the Nouveau project brought up performance counters for being able to read exposed information by the hardware that helps driver developers and game developers with useful real-time hardware performance information such as about cache usage, PCI-E bandwidth utilization, and other hardware attributes.

The details about Romanick's interesting talk will be shared in a separate article, but when it comes to performance counters for open-source Linux GPU drivers it is another area where open-source drivers lag behind the proprietary graphics drivers. The open-source state comes down to:

Intel: They don't support any performance counters for their graphics hardware by the open-source driver. Intel has lots of developers to work on the support, but for now at least they're being blocked by the Intel legal department. It looks like Intel's trying to keep their graphics performance counters a closely-guarded secret since it exposes so many low-level hardware details.

The Intel GPU performance counters have been described as being extremely programmable and do allow for on-the-fly adjustments. The available counters on the graphics side are said to be similar to Intel's CPU performance counters but with even more options for developers. The problem is that it's too much and so Intel doesn't want to make it all public. Intel Open-Source Technology Center developers are pushing for portions of the performance counters infrastructure to be opened at least for the most important and commonly sought after counters.

Nouveau: Martin Peres says the reverse-engineered NVIDIA graphics driver has figured out how to read the GeForce performance counters, but they really aren't sure what the data means.

Radeon: That's unknown since no Radeon developers showed up to FOSDEM.

When the open-source graphics drivers on Linux begin to expose their hardware performance counters, the data will likely be exposed to application/game developers through an OpenGL extension like the already existing GL_AMD_performance_monitor.

About The Author
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 and or contacted via .
Latest Linux Hardware Reviews
  1. Trying The Configurable 45 Watt TDP With AMD's A10-7800 / A6-7400K
  2. Sumo's Omni Gets Reloaded
  3. AMD A10-7800 & A6-7400K APUs Run Great On Linux
  4. Radeon Gallium3D Is Running Increasingly Well Against AMD's Catalyst Driver
Latest Linux Articles
  1. CPUFreq Scaling Tests With AMD's Kaveri On Linux 3.16
  2. Enabling HyperZ Is Still An Easy Way For Faster RadeonSI Performance
  3. AMD Kaveri: Catalyst vs. RadeonSI Gallium3D On Linux
  4. Linux OpenCL Performance With The Newest AMD & NVIDIA Drivers
Latest Linux News
  1. Systemd 216 Piles On More Features, Aims For New User-Space VT
  2. Mesa 10.2.6 Has Plenty Of OpenGL Driver Bug Fixes
  3. Wasteland 2 Gets An Official Release Date
  4. Dead Island For Linux Appears Imminent
  5. LXQt 0.8 Is Being Released Soon
  6. Linux 3.17 Lands Memfd, A KDBUS Prerequisite
  7. Humble Jumbo Bundle 2 Shafts Linux Gamers
  8. Ubuntu 14.10's Feature Freeze Is This Wednesday
  9. New VM Software Claims To Be 4.5x Faster Than QEMU
  10. Kpatch Gets Exposure This Week, kGraft Misses Out
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. Dead Island for Linux (?)
  2. Updated and Optimized Ubuntu Free Graphics Drivers
  3. AMD Offers Mantle For OpenGL-Next, Pushes Mantle To Workstations
  4. The dangers of Linux kernel development
  5. Next-Gen OpenGL To Be Announced Next Month
  6. OpenGL 4.5 Released With New Features
  7. Updated graphics drivers for Ubuntu 12.04 Precise LTS
  8. Builder: A New Development IDE Being Built For GNOME