AMD vs. NVIDIA Vulkan & OpenGL Linux Performance With The New Drivers
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 22 March 2016. Page 1 of 3. 113 Comments

Thanks to AMD having released their new GPU-PRO "hybrid" Linux driver a few days ago, there is now Vulkan API support for Radeon GPU owners on Linux. This new AMD Linux driver holds much potential and the closed-source bits are now limited to user-space, among other benefits covered in dozens of Phoronix articles over recent months. With having this new driver in hand plus NVIDIA promoting their Vulkan support to the 364 Linux driver series, it's a great time for some benchmarking. Here are OpenGL and Vulkan atop Ubuntu 16.04 Linux for both AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards.

The AMD GPU-PRO Beta driver stack released last week was used on the Radeon side. On the NVIDIA side was the 364.12 beta driver made public on Monday. All of the tests happened on an Ubuntu 16.04 x86_64 system (Linux 4.4) with Intel Xeon E3-1280 v5 Skylake processor that has a 3.7GHz base clock frequency and 4.0GHz boost frequency. The system was utilizing a MSI C236A Workstation motherboard, 16GB of DDR4-2133 EUDIMM, and 120GB Samsung SSD 850. The AMD graphics cards in my possession that are natively supported by the AMDGPU kernel driver as mandated by the GPU-PRO stack is the GCN 1.2 based R9 285 (Tonga) and R9 Fury (Fiji). The PRO stack with its DKMS module does enable the experimental CIK/GCN1.1 support, so I was also able to test a Radeon R9 290 (Hawaii) as part of the mix. On the NVIDIA side, thanks to the company continuously sending out review samples for Linux testing, was the entire GTX 900 Maxwell line-up with the GeForce GTX 950, GTX 960, GTX 970, GTX 980, and GTX 980 Ti.

The Vulkan benchmark utilized was The Talos Principle with testing the OpenGL and Vulkan renderer for each graphics card. Complementing those Vulkan vs. OpenGL TTP benchmarks were also a few other OpenGL benchmarks run via the Phoronix Test Suite for seeing how the new AMD GPU-PRO driver stack is comparing to NVIDIA's 364 Linux beta driver series.

As more Vulkan benchmarks become available, you can of course expect to find more Linux GPU tests/comparisons on Phoronix of the different driver options. In a few days will also be some OpenCL benchmarks showing the compute performance between these latest NVIDIA/AMD drivers on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.


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