Legacy Radeon Gallium3D Performance Drops On Mesa 9.2
It's been a while since delivering any benchmarks from legacy ATI/AMD Radeon hardware like the X1000 (R500) series on Linux. However, with the release of Mesa 9.2 from late August, here are new benchmarks of the Radeon X1000 series GPUs on the open-source Radeon "R300g" Gallium3D graphics driver.
The last time I believe I've put out any major Radeon X1000 benchmarks was early this year when Mesa 9.1 was released. The Radeon R300 Gallium3D driver supports ATI R300, R400, and R500 class GPUs -- up through the Radeon X1000 series -- while the R600 Gallium3D driver is what supports the HD 2000 through HD 6000 series hardware. (There's also now the RadeonSI driver that presently supports the HD 7000/8000 series GPUs.) The R300g driver is no longer actively as developed as the R600g or RadeonSI drivers, but it still sees new code commits and minor changes from time to time.
For today's benchmarking I pulled out an ATI Radeon X1800XL and Radeon X1950PRO from the storage bin to see how their open-source driver performance is with the latest code. Unfortunately there aren't any comparisons against the Catalyst driver since the Radeon X1000 series support there was removed in 2009 and the legacy 2009 driver release no longer works on modern Linux distributions due to X.Org Server / Linux kernel compatibility issues. But next time I have running an old system that works with 2009 Linux distributions, I'll see about a comparison to the open-source driver of today against the proprietary driver from four years ago.
Xubuntu 13.10 with the Linux 3.11 kernel and X.Org Server 18.104.22.1681 and xf86-video-ati 7.2.99 were running on the Intel Core i7 4770K Haswell system used for this most recent Mesa 9.2 driver testing. Compared for this article were Mesa 9.0.3 git-1041bfe, Mesa 9.1.6 git-93670a7, Mesa 9.2.0 git-9586f4d, and Mesa 9.3-devel git-2924b5f.
A variety of Linux OpenGL games were used as the benchmarks for this review. All benchmarking was handled by the Phoronix Test Suite software. In terms of the Linux game benchmark selection used at Phoronix, read this article while feedback/suggestions can be sent on Twitter.