Ubuntu 17.10 Radeon Performance: Stock vs. X-Swat Updates vs. Oibaf PPA vs. Pkppa vs. Padoka PPA
Written by Michael Larabel in Operating Systems on 14 November 2017. Page 1 of 4. 12 Comments

There are several Launchpad PPA options for Ubuntu users wanting to update their Mesa-based drivers. For those curious about the state of these different third-party repositories, here are a few words on them and benchmarks.

With a Radeon RX 580 and R9 Fury graphics cards, I tested the stock Ubuntu 17.10 Artful performance as well as compared it to the few different third-party options for those wanting to get fixes / better performance. The configurations right now on Ubuntu 17.10 come down to:

Ubuntu 17.10 Stock: Ubuntu 17.10 right now is relying upon Mesa 17.2.2 built against LLVM 5.0.0. And of course there's the stock Linux 4.13 kernel that none of these PPA options change unless explicitly going ahead and downloading a newer kernel from e.g. the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel PPA.

X-Swat Updates: This is the PPA maintained by Canonical's graphics maintainers. Right now this is Mesa 17.2.4 built against LLVM 5.0.0. This PPA tends to not be too exciting but rather just new point releases of the existing Mesa series supported by Ubuntu. Ubuntu does not do major version bumps of Mesa post-release. So this repository tends to be only worthwhile if you want semi-official support and are in need of some particular fixes added in later point releases. They also don't bump the LLVM version.

Oibaf PPA: One of the long-standing choices for Ubuntu users wanting bleeding-edge graphics driver support. Oibaf is regularly updated, usually a few times per week, built against the latest Mesa Git support. This currently means Mesa 17.4-dev. Unlike the to-be-mentioned Padoka PPA, Oibaf tends to build against stable LLVM versions, which right now for Artful is LLVM 5.0.1.

Pkppa: Also known as the Stable Padoka PPA, this is a newer Padoka offering that is built against Mesa stable/RC releases. Right now this is supplying Mesa 17.3.0-rc3 built against LLVM 5.0.0

Padoka PPA: The almighty Padoka PPA for providing the bleeding-edge open-source graphics experience in an easy-to-use manner on Ubuntu. This right now yields Mesa 17.4-dev built against LLVM 6.0.0 SVN.

That's the quick run-down on the different PPA options. If you are a Radeon user wanting to get the best and newest open-source graphics driver experience, the Padoka PPA is your best bet for pairing the very latest Mesa and LLVM. If you are an Intel or Nouveau user, Padoka PPA or Oibaf PPA will do the trick since there they are not relying upon any LLVM back-end like is the case with the still evolving AMDGPU LLVM code.

With the RX 580 and R9 Fury I ran some benchmarks in the each of these configurations but admittedly isn't the time of the cycle that is most distinguishable since Mesa 17.3 was just branched from Git master weeks ago and thus not too many changes compared to Mesa 17.4-devel, etc.

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