AMD's Windows Catalyst Driver Remains Largely Faster Than Linux Drivers
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 4 November 2014. Page 6 of 6. 14 Comments

Xonotic with ultra image quality settings still showed Windows 8.1 leading while the gap between the open and closed-source Linux drivers widened. The Radeon R9 290 remained a slow performer due to a re-clocking issue or other problem: it was just with the Linux 3.17 kernel and latest AMD microcode files that the Hawaii GPUs began working with acceleration for the open-source driver, one year after the hardware premiered.

Lastly with Xonotic at ultimate image quality settings, the R9 270X was the fastest with the Catalyst Linux run while the R9 290 was neck-and-neck with Catalyst on Windows and Linux. The RadeonSI Gallium3D driver was running at 80% the speed of Catalyst for the R9 270X with this demanding open-source, cross-platform game.

Overall the Windows driver was leading over Catalyst on Linux in most of the cross-platform, OpenGL benchmarks. In some cases the Catalyst Linux driver did though take the lead.

When it came to the open-source driver performance, the Radeon R9 270X was usually running between 60~80% the speed of Catalyst, which is decent and close in regards to expectations previously expressed by John Bridgman and Alex Deucher where they expect the driver to perform in relation to Catalyst for the effort they're investing. With the Radeon R9 290 the performance started out fine with Linux 3.17 but then hit performance problems later on that will hopefully be overcome with time. The Radeon R9 285 open-source support remains non-existent.

At least going forward the AMD Linux open and closed-source drivers will hopefully be made stronger thanks to their new unified driver strategy that will begin to materialize in the months ahead.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of 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 automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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