Intel Broadwell HD Graphics 5500: Windows 8.1 vs. Linux
Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 24 January 2015. Page 6 of 6. 36 Comments

With the newest Mesa open-source driver code, the other synthetic OpenGL benchmarks of GpuTest ended up running well against Windows 8.1 and edging past the proprietary Microsoft operating system with Intel's closed-source Windows graphics driver.

While the Intel Linux graphics driver for Broadwell ended up running good in the synthetic tests, in other areas it shows that much more optimization work is needed: in particular, the Xonotic game results were in favor of Windows by about 33%. While Unigine struggles greatly with the HD Graphics 5500 hardware, the end result also favored Windows 8.1 with the latest Intel Broadwell driver.

The Windows 8.1 driver also provides OpenGL 4.3 support whereas officially the Intel Linux driver is still at OpenGL 3.3 (with GL4.0~4.2 coming in the months ahead). The OpenCL support is also lagging behind on Linux but is catching up thanks to the Intel China team working on Beignet.

Even though the Broadwell Linux results didn't blow Microsoft out of the water, they are rather good considering this hardware is brand new to the marketplace. Intel's been publicly working on open-source Broadwell enablement publicly since the end of 2013 (there's already public Skylake Linux code too for months) but there's still more work needed. The Broadwell Linux graphics experience on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon has been much smoother than other launches, particularly Sandy Bridge where at-launch the Linux support was quite sour and not working out-of-the-box for many users. I didn't pull up my first-run Ivy Bridge and Haswell numbers for this article, but from what I recall, these Broadwell Linux vs. Windows numbers are closer in competition than they were for Intel's two previous generations of HD Graphics.

If you wish to see how your own Linux system's graphics performance compares to all of the numbers in this article, install the open-source Phoronix Test Suite benchmarking software and run phoronix-test-suite benchmark 1501231-DE-BROADWELL28 to facilitate your own side-by-side, direct performance comparison with the same tests, settings, and results as shown in this first-run Broadwell Linux article.

Coming up in the days ahead I will be comparing this Core i7 5600U system to other laptops around Phoronix to compare the performance to previous generations of Intel hardware. I'll also be running the X1 Carbon with other Linux distributions, running some compiler comparisons, and carrying out other interesting Broadwell Linux benchmarks. If you have any other interesting test requests, be sure to let me know. As always, if you appreciate all of the unique Linux benchmarking done exclusively at Phoronix, please consider subscribing to Phoronix Premium or placing a PayPal tip to allow this niche work to continue.

If you enjoyed this article consider joining Phoronix Premium to view this site ad-free, multi-page articles on a single page, and other benefits. PayPal tips are also graciously accepted. Thanks for your support.


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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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