AMD's Latest Open-Source Driver On Linux Is Getting Competitive With Catalyst 15.7

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 14 July 2015 at 10:38 AM EDT.

With the big Catalyst 15.7 Linux driver update released last week and the continued evolution of the open-source AMD Linux driver in the Linux kernel and Mesa Gallium3D, here are fresh benchmarks of six different AMD Radeon graphics cards when being tested on both the open and closed-source drivers to represent the AMD Linux gaming experience this summer.

The graphics cards used for this latest open vs. closed-source AMD Linux driver comparison were the Radeon HD 6870, HD 6950, HD 7950, R9 290, and R7 370. For the open-source driver stack there was Linux 4.1.1 with the Mesa 10.7-devel Git code as of last week and xf86-video-ati 7.5.99. The Oibaf PPA was used for easy reproducibility of the results by independent parties. Due to this, the stable LLVM 3.6 series was used and not LLVM 3.7 SVN for demonstrating the very bleeding-edge performance potential, but is still largely representative of what open-source gamers would see this summer given LLVM 3.7 will not be released as stable until the end of August. On the proprietary driver side was the AMD Catalyst 15.7 release. This testing is similar to last week's NVIDIA open vs. closed-source driver comparison.

Open-Source vs. Catalyst AMD Linux

With the open-source Radeon driver's support for OpenCL still sluggish, the compute performance wasn't compared. Likewise, the RadeonSI and R600 Gallium3D drivers are still presently bound to OpenGL 3.3 compliance so we were able to run games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but more demanding titles like Metro Last Light Redux do not work out-of-the-box on Mesa/Gallium3D at this time.

All of the benchmarks in this latest Linux graphics card comparison were facilitated via the open-source Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software.

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