NVIDIA 190.16 Driver Brings OpenGL 3.2 To Linux
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 22 July 2009. Page 2 of 5. 24 Comments

NVIDIA was quick to support the OpenGL 3.0 and 3.1 revisions and now they are being extremely quick to support OpenGL 3.2 within their driver. Of course, NVIDIA works quite closely with the OpenGL working group as part of the Khronos Group. ATI/AMD on the other hand has taken a bit longer in supporting the latest revisions to this graphics API. Likewise, NVIDIA already has an OpenCL Linux driver ready, where as publicly, AMD has been quiet on the matter. When it comes to the open-source graphics drivers and OpenGL 3.0/3.1/3.2, there really is not much activity at all. In fact, with the classic Mesa drivers, do not expect to see much beyond where things are at right now with many of the drivers being limited to OpenGL 1.4 (and for Intel, 2.0). The open-source graphics drivers will hopefully begin to play catch-up quite soon when an OpenGL 3.1 state tracker is released for Gallium3D. While such a state tracker will be nice (along with an OpenCL state tracker), Gallium3D drivers still have a way to go before they will be stabilized and feature complete.

There really is not too much we can say at this point beyond there being OpenGL 3.2 support within the NVIDIA 190.16 Beta Linux driver. Graphics hardware that is compatible with OpenGL 2.1/3.0/3.1 should remain compatible with this forthcoming graphics API revision. While there are not any OpenGL 3.2 benchmarks for Linux at this time, we had carried out a few performance tests anyways with this new driver to look for any performance differences from the other work that has gone on within the NVIDIA 190.xx series. Our test system consisted of an Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 clocked at 4.00GHz, an ASUS P5E64 WS professional motherboard with Intel X48 Chipset, 2GB of DDR3 memory, a 160GB Western Digital SATA hard drive, and a NVIDIA GeForce 9800GTX 512MB graphics card. On the software side, we had Ubuntu 9.04 (x86_64) with the Linux 2.6.28 kernel, GNOME 2.26.1, X Server 1.6.0, and an EXT3 file-system.

We had compared the performance of the NVIDIA 190.16 Beta display driver to the latest official drivers in the 180.xx and 185.xx series. The latest NVIDIA 180.xx driver was 180.60 and 185.18.14 for the 185.xx series. Due to the 180.60 driver being buggy with OpenGL, for our testing we had to use the 180.51 driver instead. To perform our quantitative performance analysis of these three NVIDIA proprietary drivers we had used the Phoronix Test Suite with the latest 2.0 Sandtorg code-base. The tests we ran with PTS Sandtorg were Nexuiz, Doom 3, Unigine Sanctuary, Unigine Tropics, GtkPerf, and QGears2. We had run some other graphics too, but there were no evident performance changes.

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