RadeonSI Gallium3D Made Some More OpenGL Performance Gains This Year
This year the focus for modern Linux gaming really shifted to Vulkan with Feral's major new game ports being exclusively Vulkan-based, DXVK and Steam Play coming about for relying upon Vulkan for Direct3D 10/11 emulation on Linux, Vulkan 1.1 and subsequent point releases ironing out desired functionality by developers for this graphics API, and all of the open/closed-source drivers continuing to mature. But there is still a plethora of OpenGL-only Linux games out there and AMD's open-source driver team hasn't let up in continuing to improve and optimize their RadeonSI Gallium3D driver. Here are some benchmarks showing how the RadeonSI performance has improved over the past year on an AMD RX Vega graphics card.
Similar to yesterday's RADV Vulkan driver benchmarks over 2018, this article is taking some of the interesting Linux OpenGL titles to see how well RadeonSI has improved over the past year. Well, the testing was done going back to Mesa 17.2 from Q3'2017 and tested with each release series up through the current Mesa 19.0-devel code. Mesa 17.2.8, 17.3.9, 18.0.5, 18.2.7, 18.3.1, and 19.0-devel were the versions tested. Mesa 18.1 was left out since on that branch this Radeon RX Vega 64 graphics card was yielding severe corruption issues. Each Mesa release was built with the latest supported version of the AMDGPU LLVM back-end possible.
Via the Phoronix Test Suite various OpenGL tests were carried out.
The Deus Ex: Mankind Divided port by Feral Interactive remains one of the most demanding OpenGL-only Linux game ports where as past that point Feral began transitioning to Vulkan. While the RadeonSI OpenGL support really matured into great standing during 2016~2017, these results show the RadeonSI performance still improved nicely this year... Compared to a year ago, the Deus Ex performance on the Radeon RX Vega 64 is faster by about 10% though currently 19.0-devel appears to be slightly regressed compared to 18.3.1 stable.
Even the open-source Tesseract OpenGL game saw some minor performance benefits in 2018 out of Mesa 18.x.
Unigine Superposition is the most demanding OpenGL benchmark for Linux users. After regressing briefly at the start of the year, Unigine Superposition is looking good at this stage and slightly better than last year and a higher peak frame-rate.
From carrying out various benchmarks, the OpenGL performance of RadeonSI across the Mesa 18.x releases ranged from performing the same to in cases like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided being around 10% faster than just over one year ago. Not bad at all when considering most of the work on getting RadeonSI up to parity with their proprietary driver and the NVIDIA competition happened during 2016~2017 when it entered a really polished state.
The only main downside this year with the RadeonSI driver is that there is still no OpenGL 4.6 support due to the SPIR-V ingestion support not yet being complete... The proprietary AMD OpenGL driver meanwhile does support OpenGL 4.6 but for most Linux games runs slower than RadeonSI. Overall it was quite an exciting year for open-source Radeon graphics with these RadeonSI performance improvements, significant RADV Vulkan performance/feature work, ironing out various open-source driver issues, and now as we prepare for 2019 there is the long-awaited FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync support set to be merged with the upcoming Linux 4.21. Now we just need to cross our fingers that next year's Radeon Navi support will be in good open-source standing at launch.
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