Intel Linux Driver Almost Neck-And-Neck With Windows 8.1

Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 28 November 2013. Page 1 of 4. 13 Comments

Intel released a big Windows graphics driver update that for Haswell hardware now provides OpenGL 4.2 support -- while the Intel Linux driver just hit the milestone of OpenGL 3.3 support. To see how the latest Windows and Linux Intel graphics drivers compare, I ran some new benchmarks on Windows 8.1 against Ubuntu 13.10 to see how the performance pans out in various OpenGL game benchmarks and other graphics workloads.

While NVIDIA's binary driver has parity between Windows and Linux due to a common driver code-base shared between platforms, the Intel drivers for each operating system are completely different and done by different teams. In past cross-platform benchmarks at Phoronix, the performance has been a mixed bag between operating systems while going back further games have generally been finding better performance on Windows.

With the recent Intel Windows driver update released, I ran some benchmarks with the latest driver available (Intel / 27 November) and then compared the performance to 64-bit Ubuntu Linux. The Linux test configurations included Ubuntu 13.10 "out of the box" with the Linux 3.11 kernel and Mesa 9.2.1, then upgrading to the Linux 3.13 Git kernel, and then lastly running Linux 3.13 Git along with Mesa 10.1-devel Git. With the Mesa 10.0 release there's many new features and among them are OpenGL 3.2 and 3.3 support for Intel's open-source DRI driver.

All benchmarks in this article were done from an ASUS Ultrabook with Intel Core i3 3217U "Ivy Bridge" laptop with Intel HD Graphics 4000. A fresh round of Windows vs. Linux "Haswell" benchmarks will come as soon as the new Haswell laptop arrives, plus maybe some new results from our Haswell desktop systems. All of the Intel Linux vs. Windows graphics testing was facilitated in an automated and reproducible manner using the Phoronix Test Suite. For feedback on the Linux GPU benchmarks used, read Running Benchmarks On Other New Linux Games.

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