Benchmarks Of Nouveau's Gallium3D OpenGL Driver
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 17 February 2010. Page 3 of 3. 29 Comments

Unreal Tournament 2004 is playable with both NVIDIA graphics cards tested using the open-source Gallium3D driver.

Lastly are the results from Warsow. Neither the 8600GTS nor 9800GTX was playable with this free software game when using the current Nouveau driver stack. When running Warsow at 1920 x 1080, the GeForce 9800GTX was 15x faster with the NVIDIA 195.36.03 beta driver than using the open-source Nouveau driver that uses the Gallium3D driver architecture.

While the Nouveau Gallium3D driver is not nearly as fast as NVIDIA's proprietary graphics driver, it's good to just see the Nouveau 3D driver working and being easy to get going by just installing a single RPM package. We would not be surprised if this Gallium3D driver is actually installed by default with the Fedora 14 release later this year. The Nouveau driver still has a ways to go in polishing up its 3D support for all NVIDIA graphics cards and particularly the very latest GPUs on the market, but they are starting to make great headway and after years of work, the driver is entering a usable state by normal Linux desktop users. Once this driver matures some more its performance will likely improve and other issues worked out (such as the NV84 8600GTS outperforming the NV92 9800GTX). For reference, the NVIDIA GeForce 8600GTS is currently retailing for around $50 USD while the GeForce 9800GTX has a street value of roughly $140.

At this point if you have a mid to high-end NVIDIA graphics card the Gallium3D driver from Nouveau should work and allow you to run Compiz or play ioquake3-type games at a modest speed. Though if you are looking for the best performance or are wanting to play newer titles like Enemy Territory: Quake Wars or Prey, you will need to stick to the binary blob for the time being. As the Fedora 13 release nears and the Nouveau driver stack matures, we will be back with more Gallium3D benchmarks from a wider assortment of NVIDIA graphics cards and comparative numbers to the open-source drivers for ATI and Intel hardware. While the software stack is vastly different, we have published open-source ATI R600/700 3D benchmarks from the same Core i3 system with a variety of Radeon HD 2000/3000/4000 graphics cards.

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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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