AMD's RadeonSI Gallium3D Is Improving, But Catalyst Is Much Better
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 31 October 2013. Page 1 of 5. 21 Comments

After last week delivering a Linux hardware review of the AMD Radeon R9 270X graphics card with the binary Catalyst driver on Ubuntu, and then yesterday looking at the Radeon Gallium3D driver posing a threat to Catalyst when using the mature "R600g" driver on HD 5000/600 series hardware, up today are new open vs. closed-source benchmarks. In this article we're looking at the performance of the Radeon R9 270X GPU when using the Ubuntu 13.10 open-source graphics stack, then when upgrading to Mesa 10.0 with Linux 3.12 DPM, and then comparing those numbers to the proprietary Catalyst Linux graphics driver.

As shown in previous Phoronix articles, the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver that provides the open-source OpenGL driver for AMD Radeon HD 7000/8000 and Rx 200 series graphics cards is not nearly as mature as the R600 Gallium3D driver that supports from the HD 2000 series through HD 6000 series graphics processors. My tests from September showed RadeonSI still being troublesome with the performance having a long way to go and the OpenGL functionality being still behind R600g, which is still behind the hardware's potential and what's supported by the Catalyst driver. Features like GPGPU/OpenCL compute support are also still being worked on, etc.

With the Radeon R9 270X "Curacao XT" being a modified "Pitcairn" graphics core from the Radeon HD 7000 series, the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver already supports this graphics processor that launched earlier this month. The configurations that the Radeon R9 270X was tested under Linux today include:

Ubuntu 13.10 Stock - The standard "out of the box" configuration of the AMD graphics driver in Ubuntu 13.10 x86_64. The key components here are the Linux 3.11 kernel and Mesa 9.2.1.

Ubuntu 13.10 + Mesa 10 - The Ubuntu 13.10 installation when upgraded to the Mesa 10.0 Git state via the Oibaf PPA for easy reproducibility.

Ubuntu 13.10 + Mesa 10 + Linux 3.12 DPM - The Ubuntu 13.10 installation with Mesa 10.0 Git (like the last configuration) but then also upgrading to the latest daily package for the Linux 3.12 Git kernel and also enabling Radeon DPM for dynamic power management.

Ubuntu 13.10 + Catalyst 13.11 b6 - Installing the Catalyst 13.11 Beta 6 driver on Ubuntu 13.10. This was the latest AMD Catalyst binary driver for Linux as of test time.

All benchmarking was handled via the Phoronix Test Suite. Additional RadeonSI benchmarks from other available Radeon HD 7000 series graphics cards will come in November.


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