ATI R300 Mesa, Gallium3D Compared To Catalyst

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 14 July 2010. Page 3 of 3. 84 Comments

Sticking with Tremulous but increasing the resolution from 1024 x 768 to 1400 x 1050 was rather interesting with the classic Mesa 7.9-devel R300 driver running much faster than when at the lower resolution (which is quite odd) while the Gallium3D driver lost more than half of its frame-rate. Increasing the resolution led to just a slight performance setback for the ATI Catalyst driver.

Our last results to share today are from Urban Terror, where to no surprise by now the Catalyst driver from 2008 continued to slaughter the current open-source Mesa drivers. The Gallium3D driver was actually noticeably slower than the classic R300 driver in this test, but at least its performance has improved significantly within Mesa over the past two years since the Mesa 7.2 release.

Compared to our earlier Gallium3D tests with ATI Radeon X1000 (R500) series hardware (for those not living and breathing open-source graphics, there isn't yet a properly working Gallium3D driver for the newer ATI Radeon HD 2000/3000/4000/5000 series hardware, but it's being worked on), these numbers from the much older ATI Mobility Radeon X300 (RV370) graphics processor were rather interesting. With this slower and older ATI GPU, Gallium3D did not boost the performance compared to the classic driver as we have seen in our other tests. The latest open-source 3D performance is also slower when using the DRI2/KMS defaults compared to the old Mesa stack from two years ago in many instances, with DRI2 and other areas still being able to benefit from greater performance optimizations. When running World of Padman we were surprised to see the current Mesa 7.9-devel code running faster than the Catalyst driver we tested, but in the other games the open-source ATI Linux drivers are still no match to their proprietary brother.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via TwitterLinkedIn,> or contacted via