GeForce RTX 30 vs. AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series Vulkan Ray-Tracing On Linux

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 13 August 2021. Page 1 of 4. 18 Comments

Given this week's launch of the Radeon RX 6600 XT and that also bringing the new Radeon Software for Linux 21.30 driver, I was curious to see how the Vulkan ray-tracing performance compares now against the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 series on Linux.

While many Radeon Linux gamers prefer using the Mesa RADV Vulkan driver for its competitive performance, Valve developers contributing optimizations and improvements to the RADV driver, and it being found out-of-the-box by all major Linux distributions, ray-tracing support is one of the advantages to using the Radeon Software for Linux packaged driver.

This spring the Radeon Software for Linux packaged driver added Vulkan ray-tracing support within its "PRO" closed-source Vulkan driver. AMD has not yet added any ray-tracing support to the AMDVLK driver that shares the same sources but as part of the open-source strategy uses the AMDGPU LLVM shader compiler back-end rather than their internal shader compiler back-end.

RADV has been working on ray-tracing support but it's currently very slow. Thus for now that leases the AMD Radeon Vulkan packaged (closed-source) driver on Linux if wanting to use Vulkan ray-tracing on Linux outside of NVIDIA and their proprietary driver stack with RTX graphics cards. Hopefully it will only be a few months before RADV has viable and performant ray-tracing support.

But even with the packaged driver's Radeon Vulkan ray-tracing, earlier builds this year were said to be buggy by various external developers and in some benchmarks the performance was rather slow. Thus with this week's Radeon Software for Linux 21.30 driver I was curious to see how the performance compared to that of NVIDIA's latest 470.63.01 build.

Vulkan Ray-Tracing August 2021

On the AMD side with their new driver the cards tested were the RX 6600 XT, RX 6700 XT, and RX 6800 XT with not having any RX 6900 XT available for testing. On the NVIDIA side with their latest Linux driver was the complete RTX 30 line-up of the RTX 3060, RTX 3060 Ti, RTX 3070, RTX 3070 Ti, RTX 3080, RTX 3080 Ti, and RTX 3090.

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