Unigine Heaven Shows What Linux Gaming Can Look Like
This article was originally written in late 2009 based upon an internal development build we had at the time and held in a queue until the public availability of this technology demo, which finally has taken place today. These screenshots are also out of date and not using the most recent version nor with tessellation. Now that we have access to this new build of Unigine Heaven we will be delivering new benchmarks, screenshots, and details shortly.
Our friends over at Unigine Corp love to push the bounds of graphics realism in their Unigine Engine, which continues to be one of the most advanced commercial game engines, and right now is certainly the most advanced game engine for Linux. While there are not many game studios actually shipping products based on Unigine's technology right now, Unigine Corp is known for producing a couple technology demos and working with us on the Phoronix Test Suite. Their Unigine Sanctuary benchmark was phenomenal, their Unigine Tropics benchmark was even better yet and set a new Linux OpenGL precedent, and now Unigine Heaven takes it unbelievably further. Today Unigine Corp is finally unveiling the Linux version of Unigine Heaven with its OpenGL 3.2 renderer. We have had our hands on a pre-release copy of Unigine Heaven and so now we are able to share our thoughts on this impressive benchmark / tech demo along with performance numbers for an assortment of ATI / NVIDIA graphics cards.
Unigine Heaven is the latest technology demo / benchmark that shows off the latest state of the Unigine Engine, which continues to constantly advance and has picked up many new features since the Unigine Tropics release in 2008. Some of the features achieved by Unigine Corp's small development team this year included new physics and multiplayer support, volumetric clouds, continuous collision detection, a DirectX 11 renderer with Shader Model 5.0 for Microsoft Widnows, physical cloth effects, and then an OpenGL 3.2 renderer.
We originally talked about (and showed videos of) this new demo in Unigine Heaven Offers Heavenly Graphics as Unigine Corp had released this demo on the launch day of Microsoft Windows 7, which officially brought DirectX 11.0 support. Unigine Corp was the first to provide a DirectX 11.0 benchmark and it even exploited the hardware tessellation capabilities of the latest ATI graphics cards (the Radeon HD 5000 "Evergreen" series). Unigine Heaven also works with their OpenGL 3.2 renderer, but no Linux demo of Heaven was released that day because none of the Linux graphics drivers simply could handle this demanding engine. Since then though we provided two status updates (Unigine Heaven On Linux In A Month Or Two and also Unigine Heaven For Linux Status Update).
The non-tessellated version of Unigine Heaven will work on the NVIDIA side, while it will not be until they officially release the GeForce GT 400 "Fermi" series that there will be any tessellation support.
All of the screenshots you are seeing of Unigine Heaven are ones that we had captured with Unigine Heaven running natively under Ubuntu Linux 9.10 with the latest Catalyst drivers atop an ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics card. Also note that these screenshots were converted from TGA to compress JPEGs and that we were using the default Unigine Heaven settings -- we still can push the image quality settings even higher, but it will totally destroy the performance. These screenshots are from an old version of this tech demo, we will have new screenshots published shortly. This system was running with an Intel Core i7 920 quad-core processor clocked at 3.60GHz, an Intel X58 motherboard, and 3GB of DDR3 system memory. Unigine Heaven can be run from the latest Git snapshot of Phoronix Test Suite version 2.4 "Lenvik", which was used for carrying out all of these tests today. The standalone version can also be downloaded at Unigine.com. Before even thinking about trying out Unigine Heaven though you will want to make certain you have the very latest graphics drivers for your hardware. If you are not using either the proprietary NVIDIA or ATI drivers, do not even bother trying to run Unigine Heaven atop Mesa or even Gallium3D as it simply will not work.