New AMD GPU Performance To Be Boosted By Linux 4.5; How It Compares To The Binary Blob

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 23 December 2015. Page 1 of 4. 22 Comments

Last week I posted some AMD proprietary vs. open-source AMD Linux driver benchmarks using the very latest code. Left out of that earlier comparison was the R9 Fury series with Fiji GPU as well as newer graphics cards using the Tonga GPU. These graphics cards are supported by the AMDGPU DRM driver rather than the long-standing Radeon DRM driver. As I've been mentioning a lot this week, Linux 4.5 will bring the PowerPlay power management / re-clocking support to AMDGPU. In this article are showing benchmarks of the Fiji and Tonga GPUs under Linux 4.4 and Linux 4.5 DRM-Next along with the Catalyst 15.9 driver as shipped by Ubuntu 15.10.

With the Linux 4.5 kernel, graphics cards using this newer AMDGPU DRM driver will finally be able to perform better than previous kernel releases where the graphics cards have been bound to running at whatever their clock frequencies were at boot time. With higher-end graphics cards, these boot frequencies are very low due to the complex power management of modern GPUs. With Linux 4.5 there is PowerPlay in place, but it's not enabled by default. See How To Use AMDGPU PowerPlay On The Linux 4.5 Kernel for the two-step process to enable power management on the Linux 4.5 release.

Besides the power management, there are other AMD changes too as outlined yesterday. The 4.5 DRM kernel used for this benchmarking was this Ubuntu kernel spin I've made public for others wanting to test out the experimental code and/or reproduce my results. The Linux 4.4 kernel was just a Git snapshot from earlier this week.

On both of the kernels tested, Mesa 11.2-devel and LLVM 3.8 SVN were obtained from the Padoka PPA as of earlier this week. Additionally, I manually enabled DRI3 for better performance on the open-source drivers. On the binary blob side, the R9 285 and R9 Fury were tested with the Catalyst 15.9 driver as it's the default proprietary AMD driver on Ubuntu 15.10.

Radeon AMDGPU 2015 Open vs. Closed

All of these OpenGL Linux benchmarks of Steam games and other titles were driven in a fully-automated and reproducible manner using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite. First up are results for these Linux gaming benchmarks at 1080p followed by 4K.

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