Squeezing More Performance Out Of Intel Tiger Lake Xe Graphics By Using Mesa Git
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 18 July 2021 at 07:00 AM EDT. 2 Comments
For those that may have upgraded to an Intel Tiger Lake notebook and making use of the Gen12 Xe Graphics while running a distribution like Ubuntu 21.04, if you are wondering whether upgrading the kernel or Mesa are worthwhile here are some benchmarks.

While Ubuntu 21.04 was just released a few months ago, it makes use of Linux 5.11 and Mesa 21.0 that is already a bit dated in the open-source world when it comes to the constantly evolving driver support especially for new hardware. If you are wondering whether upgrading past those versions are worthwhile, these benchmarks are for you.

These tests with the Core i7 1185G7 Tiger Lake in the Dell XPS 13 9310 were using Ubuntu 21.04's stock kernel/Mesa, upgrading to Mesa 21.3-dev (Git master) from the Oibaf PPA, switching to Linux 5.13 stable with Mesa 21.3-devel, and then trying Linux 5.14-rc1 with Mesa 21.3-devel. Thus a straight-forward comparison for helping to show whether moving to a newer kernel or Mesa may provide a meaningful boost for the Xe Graphics performance with Tiger Lake.

Basemark showed a sizable boost to the graphics performance when moving to the newer Mesa code and using the engine's Vulkan renderer.

The open-source DDNet game was also showing nice improvements from using Mesa Git. The kernel versions beyond Linux 5.11 weren't showing any real difference in this case.

For OpenGL games the performance benefits to Mesa Git tended to be smaller than with the Vulkan tests. More benchmark results here. But in any event during the OpenGL and Vulkan testing I haven't run into any issues or regressions when using the current Mesa Git, thanks to Intel's very reliable QA/CI these days around their open-source graphics driver stack. Moving to this latest Mesa code for some Tiger Lake Xe Graphics benefits is easily achievable on Ubuntu systems by way of the Oibaf PPA. As it pertains to the Xe Graphics performance. at this stage there wasn't any clear benefit from moving past the Linux 5.11 kernel as shipped by Ubuntu 21.04.
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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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