Intel's UXA 2D Performance Improvements
In this month's AMD Catalyst 10.6 driver update for Linux they rolled out the ATI 2D Acceleration Architecture, which pleased many ATI Radeon customers, but they aren't the only ones working towards improved 2D support. Intel's open-source engineers have been working to optimize their xf86-video-intel DDX driver 2D performance with much of this work being clearly shown in the Intel 2.12 X.Org driver update. Here are some benchmarks showing the significant performance gains brought by this open-source Intel driver.
When it comes to 2D and Intel's UXA acceleration architecture there are many measurable performance improvements, some of which we have already talked about. These 2D performance improvements target the Intel 915G, 945G, and Pineview graphics chipsets and include speeding up the glyph rendering, avoiding software fallbacks when using extended desktops, better performance when using large windows (i.e. scrolling a window with Firefox), and avoiding migration ping-pong with gigantic drawings. Intel's own numbers show speed-ups in different tests ranging from 1.06x all the way up to 5.41x the older driver.
These 2D performance improvements are certainly appreciated seeing as just a year ago Intel had killed the netbook experience with its shoddy 2D experience and stability problems following the migration to KMS, DRI2, and the Graphics Execution Manager. To measure these performance improvements we used JXRenderMark, QGears2, GtkPerf, Render Bench, and x11perf from the Phoronix Test Suite. The test system was a Samsung NC10 netbook with an Intel Atom N270 processor, Intel 945G graphics, 2GB of system memory, and a 32GB OCZ Core Series SSD.
On a clean daily installation of Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat with the Linux 2.6.35-2-generic (i686) kernel, X.Org Server 1.8.2 RC1, GCC 4.4.4, and the EXT4 file-system, the stock xf86-video-intel 2.11.0 driver was tested. Ubuntu 10.10 will likely end up shipping with this xf86-video-intel 2.12.0 driver before it goes gold in October, but for now, it is using the stable 2.11 release. After testing the stable release the xf86-video-intel 2.12 RC1 (v2.11.901) release was tested. After testing the 2.11 and 2.12 RC1 releases on Ubuntu 10.10 we went back and did a clean install of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS to show its "out of the box" performance with the Intel DDX driver. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS uses the older xf86-video-intel 2.9.1 driver as it was the last release to carry both kernel and user mode-setting support and Lucid Lynx also carries the older Linux 2.6.33 DRM that was back-ported to the Linux 2.6.32 kernel.