Radeon Gallium3D Can Beat AMD's Catalyst In Select Workloads

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 25 February 2013. Page 5 of 6. 8 Comments
AMD Radeon R500 Catalyst Legacy Ubuntu 13.04

Unigine with low quality settings performs fairly well for the modern Gallium3D driver compared to the discontinued Catalyst R500 driver.

AMD Radeon R500 Catalyst Legacy Ubuntu 13.04
AMD Radeon R500 Catalyst Legacy Ubuntu 13.04

When the visual intensity of Xonotic increases by moving to high quality settings, the Radeon Gallium3D driver falls noticeably behind Catalyst.

The modern Radeon Gallium3D driver for Radeon X1000 (R500) graphics cards as will be found in Ubuntu 13.04 is finally competing with the discontinued R500 Catalyst legacy driver for more Linux OpenGL games. However, the performance parity mostly comes down to the games using lower-quality visuals and not very demanding game engines (i.e. ioquake3 engine rather than id Tech 4). With the more demanding games and settings, the Catalyst Linux graphics driver from five years ago is still much faster than the Gallium3D driver from this year.

It's nice to see the Radeon Gallium3D driver performing better against the Catalyst driver, but it's taken a half-decade to get to this point. There is also still the performance of the Radeon HD 2000/3000/4000/5000/6000/7000 series that is in worse shape relative to the Catalyst Linux driver. With the newer Radeon series there is also still limiting OpenGL support being capped at around OpenGL 3.1 conformance on the open-source driver while Catalyst can support OpenGL 3.3/4.3.

Moreover, there are other features that continue to be non-existent within the open-source Radeon Linux graphics driver such as reputable power management, CrossFire, UVD video decoding, and the various other anti-aliasing modes.

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