AMD Radeon Open-Source Linux GPU Driver Performance: 2020 vs. 2021

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 7 January 2022 at 09:00 AM EST. Page 1 of 6. 19 Comments.

Across dozens of articles over the past year I have covered a variety of different open-source AMD Radeon Linux graphics driver optimizations from their kernel driver through their Mesa RadeonSI Gallium3D driver and the popular RADV Vulkan driver, among other interesting open-source AMD contributions. For those wondering what the cumulative gain was for 2021 from all these AMD graphics driver changes, here are some end-of-year 2020 vs. 2021 benchmarks across a number of different Linux games while testing on Vega, Navi, and Navi 2 graphics cards.

Today's article is summing up the overall impact of AMD's 2021 Linux graphics driver optimizations. For reasonably looking at that cumulative impact the following software configurations were tested:

- Ubuntu 20.10 with Linux 5.9 and Mesa 20.2 for looking at the state of the graphics driver support from late 2020 as shipped by that popular Linux distribution release.

- Ubuntu 21.10 as the current stable release with Linux 5.13 and Mesa 21.2. Basically a direct year-over-year look for the graphics performance on Ubuntu Linux.

- Ubuntu 21.10 but shifting to Linux 5.16 Git and Mesa 22.0-devel from the Oibaf PPA as of the start of the new year for the very bleeding-edge, development code for where the open-source AMD Linux graphics driver performance sits today on that very rich driver stack.

These three software stacks were tested on a Radeon VII, Radeon RX 5700 XT, and Radeon RX 6800 XT graphics cards (for those that frequently ask over not using the flagship card, no RX 6900 XT for testing with never having received any Radeon RX 6900 XT review sample for Linux testing). Tests went back as far as Vega but not beyond that considering most of the AMD driver activity is focused on the newer hardware generations.

AMD Radeon 2021 End Of Year Linux Benchmarks

With that set of cards and software configurations, a wide variety of Linux-native and Steam Play (Proton + DXVK) games were benchmarked for measuring up AMD's 2021 open-source GPU driver performance gains.

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