Open-Source AMD Radeon Graphics Had A Wonderful 2013
A few days ago I published the AMD Catalyst 2013 Year-In-Review that looked at all of AMD's binary Linux GPU driver releases of 2013. The state of Catalyst in 2013 was rather sad, especially compared to NVIDIA's very exciting year. Fortunately, on the open-source side, the AMD Gallium3D-based driver had a great year with many improvements made that are beginning to make the open-source driver sufficient for gaming with Radeon GPUs.
2013 brought OpenGL 3.0 and 3.1 support to the R600 Gallium3D driver (almost GL 3.2/3.3), the RadeonSI driver is starting to mature and become viable for Radeon HD 7000 series hardware and newer, and there's been many performance optimizations. Testing I did back in November showed that even for AMD APUs the Gallium3D performance can be 80%+ of Catalyst, the Gallium3D driver is on-par with the legacy Catalyst driver, etc. The big features that landed for the open-source AMD driver in 2013 were Radeon Dynamic Power Management and UVD video acceleration. For more on my open-source Radeon 2013 thoughts, see the end of the Catalyst 2013 year-in-review or the many graphics driver articles on Phoronix.
For this latest round of open-source Radeon Linux driver benchmarking, the "out of the box" performance on Ubuntu 12.10 was compared to the current development state of Ubuntu 14.04. This provides a look at the Radeon R600 support at the end of 2012 to now where it is at the end of 2013. Due to the Radeon driver consisting of code within the Linux kernel, Mesa/Gallium3D, xf86-video-ati, etc, it's not as easy to run a straightforward comparison like with the proprietary drivers where there is a single binary to install. As such, this open-source Radeon graphics comparison was done by testing Ubuntu 12.10 and Ubuntu 14.04 development from a Core i7 3770K system.
A Radeon HD 4890 and Radeon HD 6950 graphics cards were used for the OpenGL Linux game performance testing between Ubuntu 12.10 and Ubuntu 14.04 with the Phoronix Test Suite automated benchmarking software.