AMD Radeon Gallium3D Starting To Out-Run Catalyst In Some Cases
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 12 February 2013. Page 5 of 5. 55 Comments

Warsow 1.0 wouldn't run on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, but going from Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS to Ubuntu 13.04 shows a very big jump in performance for the open-source AMD Linux graphics driver.

When running Xonotic with low quality settings, the frame-rate for the Nexuiz successor has more than doubled when going back to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS with its old Mesa Radeon R600 driver. The biggest improvement though came from Ubuntu 10.04 LTS to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS while there's still a nice jump when continuing to Ubuntu 13.04. When Mesa 9.1 is incorporated into Ubuntu 13.04, the performance might edge even higher.

The Catalyst driver controlling the Radeon HD 4830 is still faster when running Xonotic with high quality settings, but the open-source Radeon Linux driver is closing in on the binary blob.

Coming up next will be more benchmarks comparing Ubuntu Linux releases going back several years. The AMD Radeon X1000 series using the very old Catalyst driver that still offered R300/R500 support will be benchmarked too against the modern day open-source Linux graphics driver.

While the open-source Radeon Gallium3D driver is being more competitive with -- and in some cases out-running -- the Catalyst binary driver, AMD's proprietary driver still has much better OpenGL support (GL 3.2/3.3 and OpenGL 4.0/4.1/4.2), better OpenCL/GPGPU, and other features yet to be matched by the open-source Linux driver. Additional Phoronix tests will explore other areas and hardware where the open-source driver may be evolving to be a bigger competitor to Catalyst.

If you appreciate this testing that allows you and others within the Linux desktop community to make more informed hardware buying choices, please consider subscribing to Phoronix Premium or making a PayPal tip to allow these large, time-consuming hardware tests to continue.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.


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