Linux Graphics Trends Over The Past Five Years

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 13 January 2018 at 07:25 AM EST. 4 Comments
Yesterday I posted some Linux hardware statistics going back to 2011 using data collected by the Phoronix Test Suite and Those yearly metrics hadn't contained any GPU/driver data, but here are those numbers.

The graphics numbers were omitted from yesterday's article as I had to make some tweaks to its parser and post-processor due to the wide assortment of graphics driver/hardware combinations, joining the ATI and AMD data, etc compared to the statistics collection on more basic/uniform hardware components. The sample set used was a maximum of 100,000 systems per year with the data being collected through the Phoronix Test Suite and

First up is a look at the GPU vendor reporting for the past five years...

AMD has held about a 23% average, NVIDIA a 27% average, and Intel at about 25%. The "other" in this case is significant and due in part to the Phoronix Test Suite being used a lot on servers and VMs. So there is a lot of "Cirrus" devices, even some old Matrox display adapters in workstations show up on occasionally, virtual devices from VirtualBox/VMware, AST display hardware on server/workstation boards, etc. But of the proper graphics hardware it shows NVIDIA, Intel, and AMD all competing with a slice of the market.

Here's a better look at things when looking at the OpenGL driver vendors, which eliminates some of the "other" noise... The NVIDIA driver is used on about 40% of the systems while Mesa is on average around 60%. The Intel and AMD drivers use Mesa most commonly but Mesa also shows up when using LLVMpipe as is commonly the case on server/workstation systems not normally dealing with graphics, VirGL for pass-through from VMs more recently, the VMware VMWgfx driver stack, the newer Intel (Open)SWR rasterizer, etc. "Other" then comes down to fglrx/AMDGPU-PRO, the VirtualBox guest driver, etc.

Lastly for now is a look at the DDX (X.Org driver) statistics... We see xf86-video-modesetting taking over since 2015 and is shooting up there where now it's the most common X.Org DDX on Linux desktops. This isn't too surprising since Debian/Ubuntu and others are now defaulting to it in place of hardware-specific DDX drivers. Intel and AMD are also encouraging xf86-video-modesetting over their own DDX drivers, etc. So it's not really surprising with xf86-video-modesetting being universal, 2D is piped over OpenGL with GLAMOR, and this modesetting DDX driver continues getting better.
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Michael Larabel

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 20,000 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, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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