Mesa's New "Crocus" OpenGL Driver Is Performing Well For Old Intel Hardware
Landing this week in Mesa 21.2's development code is Crocus Gallium3D providing a new Intel OpenGL driver for i964 "Gem4" through Haswell "Gen7" graphics. While even Haswell graphics are showing their age these days, I couldn't help but to fire up a few benchmarks seeing how this new Crocus open-source OpenGL driver performs against the existing "i965" classic open-source driver for Linux systems.
Using an Intel Core i7 4770K Haswell system with Ubuntu 20.10, I fired up some benchmarks comparing the existing (and default ) i965 Mesa classic driver against the new Crocus driver option. As mentioned a few times in various articles, Crocus is just a new Gallium3D-based option for Intel Haswell back through the vintage 965 chipset series graphics. For Intel Broadwell and newer is the Intel Iris Gallium3D driver that was introduced a few years ago with Crocus not impacting those more recent Intel generations.
Crocus does allow for OpenGL 4.6 on Haswell compared to OpenGL 4.5 being exposed on the i965 driver. Additionally, Crocus allows for OpenGL ES 3.2 rather than OpenGL ES 3.1 on Haswell. Aside from that the drivers are in similar shape for the most part.
For this round of benchmarking Mesa 21.2-devel as of yesterday was used. For easy reproducibility, Mesa 21.2 was fetched on Ubuntu from the Oibaf PPA. The Oibaf package archive is building the Crocus Gallium3D driver now and can be loaded at run-time using the MESA_LOADER_DRIVER_OVERRIDE=crocus environment variable.
Various OpenGL benchmarks were then run on this Core i7 4770K benchmark, keeping in mind the selection of OpenGL tests is limited given the age of the hardware at this point.