AMD Radeon RX 5700 / RX 5700XT Linux Gaming Benchmarks
While last month we could talk all about the specifications for the Radeon RX 5700 series, today the embargo has lifted concerning the Radeon RX 5700/5700XT graphics cards so we can finally talk about the actual (Linux) performance. The road is a bit rougher than we had hoped, but it's possible to drive these new Navi graphics cards today using their open-source graphics driver stack at least for OpenGL games/applications. Over the weeks ahead, the Linux driver support for Navi will continue to improve.
As we've been talking about for months, the Radeon RX 5700 series (Navi 10) has Linux kernel support for the AMDGPU DRM driver pending in DRM-Next for the upcoming Linux 5.3 cycle. That is the kernel kicking off development in the days ahead though will not be released as stable until September, but at least this kernel version should be found in the likes of Ubuntu 19.10 and Fedora 31 later in the year for providing the necessary kernel support for these new graphics cards.
In user-space, just days ago the initial RadeonSI OpenGL driver support for Navi 10 landed. This is the initial support and will continue to be refined over the weeks ahead. The Mesa 19.2 feature freeze is in early August while it will release around the end of August or early September. Expect performance optimizations to come as this initial-cut RadeonSI driver support isn't hitting optimal performance as you'll see from these benchmarks today.
There isn't though any open-source Vulkan driver support at this time. The RADV driver is left up to the community developers so we really don't know when the Navi support will be there but hopefully for Mesa 19.2. For the official AMDVLK driver there is code expected to be released in the days ahead once clearing IP/legal/internal reviews.
Long story short, when it comes to the popular mainline/open-source Radeon driver support, there are bits floating out there but for those using stable kernel/Mesa releases that will all come together in September and in turn for Q4 Linux distributions should work nicely-out-of-the-box. There is also LLVM 9.0 as another requirement for the AMDGPU shader compiler back-end and that is coming out around September.
AMD will be issuing a new Radeon Software for Linux driver today or in the coming days to provide this packaged Open/PRO driver support, but that is only supported on their primary enterprise Linux distributions like RHEL/CentOS, SUSE, and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. So for those wanting an easy Navi Linux support experience right now, that will be the easiest path forward at least for the near-term -- assuming you are using a supported Linux distribution.
But this Radeon Software for Linux driver is really racing down to the finish-line that we haven't even been ensured if it will be posted today or a few days out. In fact, AMD wasn't able to provide us with this packaged driver in advance as they normally do with "press drivers" for testing.
Without any Linux packaged driver in advance and no Vulkan driver code published yet, this does mean for our launch-day testing it is limited to only RadeonSI... OpenGL. A bit of a shame considering most newer Linux games are Vulkan-only and for Steam Play / Proton the best experience is using DXVK for mapping DirectX to Vulkan. But for today we can just deliver OpenGL results while waiting on the packaged driver and/or AMDVLK/RADV support. Once those pieces come out, we'll deliver Vulkan benchmarks for Navi.