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More Steam Linux Tests/Benchmarks Might Be Coming

Valve

Published on 24 April 2014 05:39 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Valve
3 Comments

Thanks to changes being made to the Steam Linux client, it looks like we might be closer to being able to deliver more often benchmarks of Steam Linux games.

For those not familiar with the reasons why Steam on Linux games aren't more frequently benchmarked on Phoronix as part of our graphics testing but tend to benchmark older titles and non-Steam games, read Finally, Team Fortress 2 Benchmarks For Phoronix! and Running Benchmarks On Other New Linux Games. Long story short, tests run at Phoronix must meet strict requirements for reproducibility and turn-key deployment capabilities... This is just not to save me time with constantly benchmarking new Linux software and hardware, but also to make it reproducible to third-parties wishing to verify the test results or to carry out similar tests within different environments.

All testing is automated via the open-source Phoronix Test Suite software with OpenBenchmarking.org to deliver the best Linux benchmarking experience. This just isn't about self-promotion but nearly all major IHVs and ISVs using the Phoronix Test Suite internally in some fashion.

More Steam Linux Tests/Benchmarks Might Be Coming

With using Steam the problems have traditionally come down to the Steam runtime being too controlling for wishing to run the external game processes outside of it, Steam controlling game updates when wishing to obtain a specific revision of a game for ensuring accuracy of the comparison, and many of the games not being easily automate-able for benchmarking purposes that can cleanly start -> benchmark -> quit. For QA and automated testing purposes, it works much better being able to fetch a specific binary with a guaranteed state.

The good news now is that I've heard from a Valve Linux developer that additions to the Steam API will finally allow us to at least record universally a build revision/number for each game... Up to now it's been rather hard to tell if two separate copies of a Steam game being benchmarked were actually the same version (and thus comparable) or not since there wasn't an expressed build number across the board of all Steam games. With the latest Steam API work, it looks like we finally have that ability to record a build number for Steam games to make sure the same version of a game is being benchmarked.

Unfortunately, there's nothing much that can be done from Valve's end for being able to fetch older versions of a game -- if you wish to see how your modern hardware is doing against a Phoronix article with results from a few months ago, how new drivers are comparing to an older release of a game where older drivers were benchmarked at length, etc. There isn't much in the way of revision control capabilities on Steam for rolling back to an older version of a game and it doesn't appear there will be that capability added due to size/interface restraints.

Beyond the work to be able to expose build/version information, there might be some news shortly on another front when it comes to playing back OpenGL traces of popular proprietary game titles via APITrace and VOGL... Stay tuned for hopeful more information in the days ahead. At least for Valve games I already have assurance of being able to use their OpenGL traces without concern for copyright/license matters.

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 .
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