AMD Radeon Gallium3D Is Catching Up & Sometimes Beating Catalyst On Linux

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 17 November 2014 at 12:00 PM EST. Page 1 of 6. 36 Comments.

Last week I shared some preview benchmarks from Steam on Linux showing Radeon Gallium3D starting to beat Catalyst. In this article are the full results from comparing the open and closed-source AMD Linux graphics cards with sixteen Radeon graphics cards while testing Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on Linux. The results yield a very close race!

Last week I posted the original 16-way CS:GO and TF2 Radeon Gallium3D results while today's numbers have the Catalyst result added in using the fglrx packaged driver for Ubuntu 14.10. As mentioned in the earlier article, Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive were chosen as being two popular Steam on Linux games with CS:GO having only been released a brief time ago for Linux. Both games also meet our requirements for automation and interaction with the Phoronix Test Suite for fully automated and reproducible performance benchmarking.

The AMD graphics cards used for testing were a mix of old and new, low and high end AMD GPUs I had available at the time of testing:

Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 5450 512MB (650/400MHz)
AMD Radeon HD 5750 1024MB (700/1150MHz)
AMD Radeon HD 5770 1024MB (850/1200MHz)
Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 5830 1024MB (800/1000MHz)
HIS AMD Radeon HD 6450 1024MB (625/667MHz)
Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 6570 512MB (650/1000MHz)
Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 6870 1024MB (900/1050MHz)
Sapphire AMD Radeon HD 6950 2048MB (800/1250MHz)
ASUS AMD Radeon HD 7850 1024MB (860/1200MHz)
XFX AMD Radeon HD 7950 3072MB (900/1375MHz)
Sapphire AMD Radeon R7 260X 2048MB (1150/1650MHz)
Gigabyte AMD Radeon R9 270X 2048MB (1100/1400MHz)
XFX AMD Radeon R9 290 4096MB (947/1250MHz)

From Ubuntu 14.10 64-bit with the Xfce desktop, the open-source driver stack tested last week was the Linux 3.18 Git kernel, xf86-video-ati 7.5.99, LLVM 3.6 SVN, and Mesa 10.4-devel. The Catalyst testing was done using the stock Ubuntu 14.10 kernel (Linux 3.16) for Catalyst ABI driver compatibility and we used the packaged driver (fglrx 14.20.7 / OpenGL 4.4.12968) as the latest stable driver that supports X.Org Server 1.16.0. Sadly, AMD hasn't released any Catalyst Linux driver updates in recent weeks, likely due to being busy with the new "AMDGPU" unified Linux driver strategy or other factors.

Source Engine Open-Source Radeon vs. Catalyst Benchmarks

As with the earlier article, besides just looking at the raw OpenGL performance results for these Valve Linux games are also power consumption, performance-per-Watt, and GPU temperature data using the Phoronix Test Suite for benchmarking.

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