It Can Be Worthwhile Upgrading Your Open-Source Radeon Driver On Ubuntu 15.10
Written by Michael Larabel in Radeon on 31 January 2016 at 05:10 PM EST. 6 Comments
Whew, tons of Linux graphics benchmarks this weekend, in large part for getting more eyes looking at the new web interface that's now in beta so feedback can be received and get it all tuned up for the official release in February. The latest of these benchmarks this weekend is comparing the out-of-the-box Ubuntu 15.10 performance against the speed when upgrading the Linux kernel and Mesa for the AMD R600g and RadeonSI Gallium3D drivers.

While it shouldn't surprise many Phoronix readers, upgrading your Mesa and kernel on even a few-month-old distribution like Ubuntu 15.10 can mean big speed gains. On Ubuntu 15.10 it's easy upgrading your Mesa and other user-space components (libdrm, the DDX drivers, etc) along with the LLVM back-end by using the Padoka PPA. If you want to also upgrade the kernel (primarily for AMDGPU users and other newer features found since Linux 4.2), there is the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel PPA.

From a Radeon HD 6870 and Radeon R9 290 I ran some comparison tests of the Ubuntu 15.10 stock performance (Linux 4.2 and Mesa 11.0.2) compared to Mesa 11.2-devel Git and Linux 4.5 Git using the respective archives. All the benchmarks, of course, were driven via the Phoronix Test Suite.

Even for the older Radeon HD 6870, the open-source Radeon driver stack is still maturing and getting faster. You can see all of these comparison benchmarks via this result file.

With the R9 290 on RadeonSI, those gains are even more profound. You can see those benchmark results via this result file.

Stop by our forums if you run into issues with driver upgrades or are wondering how to upgrade your open-source drivers on another Linux distribution.
About The Author
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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