Open-Source NVIDIA Driver Approaches Stable State
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 13 April 2012. Page 7 of 12. 9 Comments

Running the Lightsmark test profile at 1920 x 1080 is finally a good look between the two drivers for the ten graphics cards. In large part due to re-clocking issues, the Nouveau driver performance remains disastrous compared to the NVIDIA proprietary driver. The GeForce GTX 460 is nearly 20x faster with the official NVIDIA driver and 7.4x faster for the fellow GTX 550 Ti Fermi, which were both able to re-clock to the proper core frequency but hit memory re-clocking snafus.

The GeForce 9500GT was one of the graphics cards that successfully ran at the same speed as the proprietary NVIDIA Linux driver (there's just one performance level), but even still the Nouveau Gallium3D driver pushed out just 27 FPS while the proper Linux driver was running at over 60 FPS. Similarly, the GeForce GT 220 was able to run at the same clock speeds, but its frame-rate was at 60% the official Linux driver. It will be interesting to see how these graphics cards perform with the upcoming libdrm improvements.

OpenArena 0.8.5 is not too demanding on the GPU (though OpenArena 0.8.8 was recently released and is now incorporated into the Phoronix Test Suite), but for the most part due to re-clocking differences and other problems the Nouveau Gallium3D performance is trashed. There is though two very nice highlights from this: the GeForce 9500GT and GeForce GT 220 performance. With both cards running at the same clock speeds between drivers, this ioquake3-based GLSL-less game was actually a few frames faster with Nouveau Gallium3D than the NVIDIA binary driver! Those two graphics cards do nicely but the rest of the numbers are disappointing for Nouveau.


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