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Please write about NVidia's 2D performance problems

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  • Please write about NVidia's 2D performance problems


    Over the past two years the typical linux desktop has changed a lot.The XRender API has replaced the old X drawing model and composition introduced new visual possibilties.This also means that 2D drivers are now stressed much more and in different areas than 2-3 years ago.There are ongoing complains about poor 2D performance of NVidia GPUs, about 2 years ago it started with people complaining about slow text rendering with subpixel-antialiasing, but the more programs use the XRender api, the more complaints are posted.KDE4 which uses XRender a lot and also relies on more advanced feature is really slow (I would call it almost unuseable), also FireFox3 is no joy with nvidia's binary drivers. Often nouveau drivers with their EXA architecture offer better 2D performance than the binary drivers themself.There are also people calling nvidia to open-source their 2D driver, or at least provide specs to the nouveu project, because the think open-source projects could do it a lot better and are not that revenue-driven.Most of the discussions happen in the unofficial nvidia linux support forum: would be great if you could write a short arcticle about this topic, maybe it would change things to the better and make nvidia recognize that although people buy the cards because of 3D scores, they don't tolerate dog-slow 2D desktops.

    Anyone else interested? Anyone have their own experiences they would like to share on NVIDIA's 2D performance (or there the lack of)?
    Michael Larabel

  • #2
    i believe you should write about it, they dont seem to give a damn about it themselves..

    for instance, on 8xxx, openoffice is useless, im not kidding, its really really useless.

    open OO impress, use one of its wizards to generate a sample presentation, and scrolling will litterally take SECONDS, it is really really useless.

    Software rendering is faster.


    • #3
      Am I the only one not having these problems? Firefox 3's scrolling performance on my 9600GT subjectively feels just as smooth as I remember Firefox 2 being on my old 7600GT.

      I just tried "open OO impress, use one of its wizards to generate a sample presentation". Scrolling was smooth only while the entire presentation slide was visible. If I scroll such that part of it goes out of view and them back in, it does get a little choppy - like about 5 to 10 frames per second. But still nowhere near taking whole seconds...

      Gentoo Linux
      xorg-server version
      nvidia binary driver version 173.14.09
      Athlon 64 X2 4600+ overclocked to 2.52Ghz
      nVidia GeForce 9600GT


      • #4
        well... i cannot comment as to whether it works for you, but all i can say is, that for the ~5 boxes i've seen with 8xxx hardware, they've all had the problems..


        • #5
          Originally posted by Michael View Post
          Anyone else interested? Anyone have their own experiences they would like to share on NVIDIA's 2D performance (or there the lack of)?
          Yes, I have 8600M GS in my laptop and have an extremely bad performance with Ubuntu 8.04. First of all it's slow, especially text scrolling in gnome-terminal. When using Midnight Commander, trying to view/edit files is very painful. nvidia-settings -a InitialPixmapPlacement=2 (-a GlyphCache=1 doesn't work for some reason, there's no such setting in my case) helps with that, but somehow it manages to totally screw all the rest of my system, especially when I switch between windows. It's as if active window has cached fonts and everything is fast, but as soon as I switch to another window all the caches are dropped and nvidia starts rendering it cold. Note that all of this happens even without compiz. Compiz makes it worse. Compiz+Emerald make it unbearable, the delays are two and more seconds, and what's the most funny part, become noticeable without InitialPixmapPlacement=2.

          The latest 173.14 and 177.13 drivers added another bug to the mix: in gnome-terminal (and in Midnight Commander) when you edit a file and move your cursor it often leaves "trails" in its old positions and not always draws itself in its new position. Editing files is even more pain, you don't even know where you have your cursor at the moment! Press Ctrl+L and suddenly you could notice it's in the wrong line/column. Enabling TripleBuffering helps, but not always. It's still happening sometimes.

          Plus I've got an impression that 173.14/177.13 drivers have even more performance problems than 169.12 that is shipped with Ubuntu 8.04.

          Additionally, for quite some time I was attributing the slowness to Firefox 3.0 and Ubuntu 8.04 (I had performance problems on windows with early firefox alphas) and have been thinking anything from "why the hell firefox on windows works so much faster than on windows" to "what the hell did they break in Ubuntu 8.04 this time to make Linux so unbearably slow". That was until I switched to nv driver, which had absolutely no performance problems as far as I've seen. Of couse it doesn't have 3d acceleration (and some dithering problems) though, which is a showstopper for me and forces me to get back to Vista.

          Even worse is that a lot of people who scream "nvidia drivers work perfectly for me" might not even now they have the problem. They might think this is how it is supposed to work. You can spot performance problems only in the extremes on when comparing it with something else. And if they had neither it looks as if it's ok.

          All this means that it might force me and some of my friends (who don't even care for Linux but might want to try it some time in the future) to avoid NVIDIA like a fire next time. Some already did and decided to wait for the next ATI for their next upgrade. Their reputation of good Linux support turned out to be fake and I hope that more and more people will realise that.

          Plus what they don't realise is that their bad reputation on Linux causes their Windows users to reconsider buying from them next time. Just because they might want to try Linux. I can't imagine their marketing doesn't care about that.


          • #6
            Did you ever try something else besides from Ubuntu? I can not see problems with Kanotix where X is still Xorg 7.1.1 and Firefox - there called Iceweasel is 2.0.x by default.


            • #7
              9600GT concerned ?

              I've got no such problems with my 7600GT but I'm going to buy a 9600GT... is it affected by this regression ?


              • #8
                Originally posted by bacatta View Post
                I've got no such problems with my 7600GT but I'm going to buy a 9600GT... is it affected by this regression ?
                as far as i know, ALL 8xxx+ is


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Michael View Post
                  Anyone else interested? Anyone have their own experiences they would like to share on NVIDIA's 2D performance (or there the lack of)?
                  I'm absolutely interested what nVidia has to say about this. I become more aware of this problem whe I started testing KDE 4.1 beta 1. I couldn't figure out why my poor laptop with integrated ATI graphics and FOSS drivers is runing just fine and on my dual core machine with nVidia 7600GS everything is so slow. Digging further into this people also told me that KDE 4 is built on Qt 4 toolkit and Qt 4 relies much more on modern XRender architecture which appears to be dog slow on nVidia. Later I found out about a simple XRender Benchark and this one only proved how many times faster integrated ATI is compared to mVidia and their bad drivers. This has come to get out so more people is avare of this and nVidia starts doing something to correct this bad performance.


                  • #10
                    I have a 8600GTS running fine here. It runs on an old X server though: 6.8.2, and I don't run anything fancy. Mostly Gtk2 and some KDE3 applications (gwenview being to most 2D-graphics intensive I guess).

                    I have a mainboard with a K8M890 chipset, and a 3200+, pretty old stuff also.

                    Perhaps it's good to know what hardware the people have who experience these problems. There may be a relation to chipset/platform and these performance issues.

                    About X-render, I found this article on Phoronix: ; dated 3 december 2007. I can't find the benchmark with the E's though.

                    An old 2003 article on slashdot ( ) may also be of interest. I think it mentions the benchmark used in the phoronix article.