Gallium3D Continues Improving OpenGL For Older Radeon GPUs
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 16 May 2013. Page 4 of 4. 4 Comments

The Xonotic game with low-quality settings didn't evolve too much across the past five Mesa development cycles.

Running Xonotic with high quality settings was more exciting. After seeing a nearly 10% jump in performance out of Mesa 9.0, the performance for Mesa 9.2 is currently up about another 3%.

It's nice to see that the Radeon HD 4870 "RV770" performance continues to improve for the Mesa/Gallium3D open-source Linux driver. This five-year-old graphics card continues to be improved for the open-source driver at a time when AMD abandoned the support already from the Catalyst driver and many of the open-source graphics driver developers are focusing most of their attention on the more recent Radeon HD 5000/6000/7000 series of graphics hardware.

While there are performance improvements, these OpenGL results are still likely a ways below the performance levels of the AMD Catalyst driver supporting the HD 4000 series. (Tests to confirm this belief may come in a later article when installing an older Linux distribution where the AMD Catalyst driver is supported in this configuration.) There's also other shortcomings of this open-source driver with the RV770 hardware supporting OpenGL 3.3 but there only being OpenGL 3.1~3.2 support at present in the R600g software, UVD video decoding support didn't come until last month, there's still a lot left to be desired with power management, there is no form of open-source CrossFire support, and other more advanced features of the Catalyst driver are currently non-existent in the open-source world (more advanced AA modes, etc).

For more perspective on this matter, be sure to see the recent 15-Way Open vs. Closed Source NVIDIA/AMD Linux GPU Comparison.

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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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