ATI's Gallium3D Driver Is Still Playing Catch-Up
Yesterday we delivered benchmarks showing how the open-source ATI Radeon graphics driver stack in Ubuntu 10.04 is comparing to older releases of the proprietary ATI Catalyst Linux driver. Sadly, the latest open-source ATI driver still is no match even for a two or four-year-old proprietary driver from ATI/AMD, but that is with the classic Mesa DRI driver. To yesterday's results we have now added in our results from ATI's Gallium3D (R300g) driver using a Mesa 7.9-devel Git snapshot from yesterday to see how this runs against the older Catalyst drivers.
We were using the same ThinkPad T60 notebook with the Intel Core Duo T2400 processor, 1GB of system memory, a Hitachi 80GB HTS541080G9SA00 SATA HDD, and the Mobility Radeon X1400 graphics processor. We started where we ended with yesterday's tests and then proceeded to build a Git snapshot of Mesa from 2010-04-09 with the R300g Gallium3D driver enabled. The R300g Gallium3D driver is compatible with ATI R300/400/500 series ASICs while the newer Gallium3D driver for ATI R600/700/Evergreen hardware is still in the early stages of development. A few weeks back we delivered Gallium3D vs. Classic Mesa benchmarks with ATI R500 hardware and found Gallium3D to do rather well for still not yet being the default ATI driver, but since then even more performance improvements have been committed for Mesa 7.9.
With the Gallium3D driver enabled, the graphics were reported as "Gallium 0.4 on RV515" with an OpenGL version string of "2.1 Mesa 7.9-devel." The experience using this Gallium3D driver continues to be rather pleasing and we are hoping that R300g will become the default over the classic Mesa R300 driver with Mesa 7.9 or the succeeding release.
Again, with the Phoronix Test Suite the tests we were able to run with these drivers and Mobility Radeon X1400 GPU were Tremulous, Warsow, World of Padman, and Urban Terror.