Mac OS X Intel Graphics Still Outperform Linux

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 14 February 2011 at 08:39 AM EST. Page 1 of 3. 18 Comments.

In recent weeks we have been talking about Intel's Linux advancements as it concerns their latest "Sandy Bridge" generation of processors with integrated graphics (and there are a few more articles on the way), but how is their latest open-source driver stack performing on the older generations of Intel integrated graphics? Previously, the Intel Linux graphics have been the real loser in our multi-OS comparisons, but is this still the case? At least when comparing the Linux and Mac OS X performance on Intel 945 hardware, yes, the Mesa driver falls behind at OpenGL acceleration.

Today we have updated results to deliver that compare the performance of Mac OS X 10.6.6, Ubuntu 10.10, and Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 under an Apple Mac Mini with Intel GMA 950 / i945 graphics. We also wanted to deliver results under Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1, but this older Mac Mini has EFI problems booting Windows 7 x64 and we do not have a copy of the 32-bit version of Windows 7. The Mac Mini has an Intel Core 2 Duo T5600 CPU, an Intel 945 Mobile + ICH7-M motherboard, 1GB of system memory, an 80GB Hitachi HTS54258 SATA hard drive, and Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics.

With Mac OS X 10.6.6, there is the 10.6 kernel, X Server 1.4.2-apple56, OpenGL 1.4 support, and the Journaled HFS+ file-system. On Ubuntu 10.10 there is the Linux 2.6.35 kernel, X.Org Server 1.9.0, xf86-video-intel 2.12.0 DDX, Mesa 7.9-devel, an EXT4 file-system, and the GNOME desktop. Under Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 is the Linux 2.6.38 kernel, X.Org Server 1.10 RC1, xf86-video-intel 2.14.0, Mesa 7.10, an EXT4 file-system, and Canonical's Unity desktop. Each OS was left in its stock configuration.

For comparing the Intel graphics performance under Mac OS X and Ubuntu Linux, Nexuiz, OpenArena, X-Plane, Warsow, and Urban Terror were run by the Phoronix Test Suite as they are capable of running with these Intel integrated graphics on Mesa and they are natively supported on both Mac OS X and Linux.

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