Blender Developers Find Old Linux Drivers Are Better Maintained Than Windows
Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software on 1 May 2019 at 01:31 PM EDT. 20 Comments
FREE SOFTWARE --
To not a lot of surprise compared to the world of proprietary graphics drivers on Windows where once the support is retired the driver releases stop, old open-source Linux OpenGL drivers are found to be better maintained.

Blender developers working on shipping Blender 2.80 this July as the big update to this open-source 3D modeling software today rolled out the Linux GPU requirements for this next release.

The requirements themselves aren't too surprising and cover NVIDIA GPUs released in the last ten years, AMD GCN for best support, and Intel Haswell graphics or newer.

In the case of NVIDIA graphics they tend to do a good job maintaining their legacy driver branches. With the AMD Radeon and Intel graphics, Blender developers acknowledge older hardware may work better on Linux.

Of trying to use pre-GCN (HD 7000 series) graphics cards with Blender 2.80, "No Terascale OpenGL drivers have been released for Windows in the last 3 years. On Linux, drivers do continue to be updated and Blender tends to work better. But for good performance GCN is still required."

Similarly with Intel graphics on Linux, "On Windows, earlier GPU generations have issues with Eevee due to bugs in the driver. No significant driver updates have been released in the last 3 years for these GPUs. On Linux, the situation is better as the drivers continue to be updated, but for good performance newer GPUs are recommended."

The better Radeon and Intel driver support on Linux for vintage GPUs isn't that surprising considering the quarterly Mesa cadence of these OpenGL drivers that continue to be maintained along with their DRM kernel driver counterparts. But while Blender and other 3D software may work, it's generally a much better experience and performant upgrading to the latest hardware. Especially now with Intel OpenGL attention turning to Iris Gallium3D, that only supports Broadwell and newer. On the Radeon side, the R600g driver seldom sees new commits these days and still hasn't ironed out its NIR or limited GL 4.x functionality.

These 2.80 driver/GPU requirements published today are listed on Blender.org.
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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 10,000 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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