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AMD Graphics Open Source Linux

Open Radeon 3D Driver Runs At 60~70% of Proprietary Driver Speed 245

An anonymous reader writes "AMD's Radeon HD 6000 series open-source Gallium3D driver for Linux is now working and running at 60~70% (in some cases, 80%) of the speed of the official proprietary 'Catalyst' driver. This is a big speed improvement in Mesa/Gallium3D compared to the times when the performance was crippling or even just a few years ago when AMD didn't support open-source drivers. When will NVIDIA change ways?"
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Open Radeon 3D Driver Runs At 60~70% of Proprietary Driver Speed

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  • A Grain of Salt (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ltap ( 1572175 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @08:47AM (#36773832) Homepage
    Remember, it's Phoronix.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, though Phoronix does frequently do reasonably useful benchmarks of the various 3D drivers, so I'll take this with a slightly smaller amount of salt than say their repeated claims that Steam is going Linux.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Friday July 15, 2011 @08:58AM (#36773932)

    I have CAD at home on Linux (Draftsight for 2D and Varicad (It's Linux native!!) for 3D), and there's no substitute for the Catalyst driver. The free drivers don't cut it. They may cut it for generic desktop stuff like playing video and spinning desktop cubes, but somehow combining the free driver and any CAD package gets you a very slow experience.

    Until performance really does reach 80 percent, I'm gonna have to stick with the proprietary one. And since this is only for the 6000 series and not the 4000 series (my card), I'm just gonna have to forget about it until I get new hardware.

    Hands up if you've ever had to call the ATI BBS in Peterborough, ON back in the day to get the driver of the week for Mach32 on any system.

    By the way, if you want free 2D Cad for Linux, get your ass over to Dassault Systems and download Draftsight.


    • somehow combining the free driver and any CAD package gets you a very slow experience

      Not quite true for me: Maya and Blender work fine. In fact, Maya is noticeably faster that it is on Windows 7 on the same machine, and I have taken no special steps to make it faster on Linux. I am using the laziest Linux distribution there is (Wubi Ubuntu, click click click until you have a working OS)

      Minecraft is faster and more solid too (not exactly a CAD, but it uses GPUs if I am not mistaken)

      • by bmo ( 77928 )

        Maya and Blender both are not CAD.

        And Minecraft certainly isn't.

        There's something about CAD that drives the free drivers over the edge.

        Like I said, in some situations, the free driver is certainly enough.

        I consider the driver as part of the card. I can't modify the card itself, and it doesn't bother me that I can't go mess around in the proprietary driver changing things around. In an ideal world, self help for fixing proprietary drivers would happen, but both ATI and Nvidia think that keeping features lo

        • Maya and Blender both are not CAD

          CAD = Computer Aided Design, right? Am I missing something here?

          keeping features locked away is a competitive advantage because it keeps "the other guy" from copying hardware or such.

          I could not agree more (see my post further below)

          • by bmo ( 77928 )

            >CAD = Computer Aided Design, right? Am I missing something here?



            • While you are correct, you are not informative... Chill dude, stop being elitist and give the guy a break, he doesn't know.

              For the GP: Basically CAD is used for design that will generally end up in a real world object. You can design for example a fancy box or even a desk/chair/house/skyscraper and then from your printouts (including the precise measurements) make the real thing. While you could do this in Blender, it is the wrong tool for the job. They're designed for modeling the real world not making s

              • by bmo ( 77928 )

                While I was dickish, I have neither the time nor the ability to even begin pointing out the differences between working in CAD to design something and "using a program that looks like CAD to design something."

                The reference by the other person in this thread to Minecraft was insulting, frankly.

                Just because you're working in 3D doesn't mean what you're doing is CAD.

                I'm also going to go out on a limb here and say that Maya and Blender, while resembling parametric solid modeling to the casual user, aren't.

                If th

                • by bmo ( 77928 )

                  I said

                  >Accurate representation is /everything/.

                  I can't leave it at that.

                  CAD is also used to generate code for machining in post-processing. If i do not have a really accurate model, I'm not going to have parts that come out to the tolerances I want.

                  How accurate are the surfaces generated by Blender or Maya? Do they even close? For film and graphics and such, this doesn't matter. Nobody's going to care. A milling machine or lathe with garbage code from garbage surfaces, is going to give you garbage p

                  • Fair enough. I wasn't suggesting you give him a full course(and my explanation wasn't intended to be complete either), but maybe rather than a simple "yes" a bit of "well here is something to get you started on understanding the difference..." might have been helpful to the poster...

          • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

            Yes, you really are I'm afraid.

            You just said the equivalent of "Powerpoint is good enough for DTP right, so why worry about slowness in InDesign?"

            Although that's not fair, actually, since Blender and Maya are actually pretty powerful in their own forte, but they're simply not CAD.

        • As long as they PROVIDE the driver, I don't care either. The whole free driver thing started because they didn't provide, and we didn't have a choice. Either you hacked a driver together, or you were SOL.

          Today, companies do much better.

      • You *really* didnt just make a comparison between CAD software..

            And Mindcraft.......

    • by ianare ( 1132971 )

      You're right, the current open drivers do not cut it, by far. But the ones mentioned in the article are not included yet in any major distro, do look for them in the next Ubuntu. As for your 4000 series card, it's probably time to upgrade to 6000 ... I just did for playing wine games and the difference between the two is pretty incredible.

      For games, I will stick with the closed driver until the open one is just as good or better. AMD has promised to make the open driver have the same development cycle as th

      • The problem with your statement bubba is the fact that I just bought a replacement system in March that includes an HD4220 Radeon IGP with no PCIe Video Card Slot. This is a business system so upgradeability is limited. As a small business owner, I'm not willing to replace a working system for at least 5 years as the IGP is sufficient to handle the Win7 Aero Needs and such with reasonable performance. Keep in mind this system was not bought for Gaming/Fun. It's a Business machine, thus makes money.

    • So what did you use a few years ago, when your 2D and 3D acceleration were slower than the open drivers are today?
  • The nvidia-glx package has been broken for a week or two in Debian wheezy, and the nouveau driver makes my GPU fan spin as if I was trying to calculate a trillion decimals for pi. Result: I am booting Windows XP right now. Guess who's going to be buying ATI next time he replaces his computer?

    • by Chryana ( 708485 )

      Replying to myself... I should have read the article first. Power management is still not too good. Geez, I don't play Crysis on Linux, I don't mind too much if the video acceleration is not on par with the proprietary driver, but I can't stand my video card SCREAMING AT ME ALL DAY LONG. Oh well, I guess I'll have to stick to the proprietary drivers for now.

      • What issue you having with nvidia? I have been using Nvidia for years (primarily due getting into CUDA v.early) and I've not seen any power management problems, or fan issues actually. My fan's generally are quite quiet (I can override this though if I want). If you want to try overriding the fan control then have a look at the "nvclock" program. It can also do over/underclocking if that's your thing.
    • Considering the nVidia drivers and OpenGL libraries are shipped as one piece, the fact that you specifically mention 'nvidia-glx' sounds like it's some thing broken apart by the Debian wheezy package managers. I would bet they are at fault for any issues you may be having, not nVidia.

      Regardless of any argument performance-wise, nVidia has been releasing reliable Linux drivers for the better part of a decade. Their OpenGL implementations work, they're standard, and they're not full of bugs. They're video

      • by rgviza ( 1303161 )
        Likely a kernel update without a nvidia driver reinstall.
        First try to update the nVidia debian package.
        If that doesn't work:
        Remove the debian package for the nvidia driver. Download the driver package directly from nVidia, and pay attention to your debian updates. If debian updates the kernel, re-run the nVidia package. Use the nVidia install script instead of the debian package for your video driver and this won't happen...

        The nVidia compile process prompts the kernel to export it's latest symbol table (wh
        • by Chryana ( 708485 )

          Thanks for your help, but I am pretty sure the package is broken in my case. I have been following the instructions at [], and this is not the first time that graphics support breaks on my computer, so I have dealt with this issue before. I have uninstalled all the nvidia packages and reinstalled them, and some of them complain of missing dependencies... I would show you the console output, but I am away from my main desktop right now. The problem, however, looks su

      • by Chryana ( 708485 )

        I am not blaming nvidia for my woes, I am just saying that if an open source driver for ATI or nvidia comes out that is competitive with the proprietary one, which has power management that actually works, I will switch because I just don't want to go through the hassle of compiling the nvidia release, switching to another distro packaged driver which does not work so well or wait it out on Windows. All the video cards I have ever bought were from nvidia, and the fact that they have a good reputation on Lin

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Debian's nvidia driver has always been an iffy proposition. Try removing all the nvidia packages and install with nvidia's installer.

    • That's a problem on Debian, not your video card... As anoying as it is, I'd have to say, works well on stable. But I bet you had other problems on Debian hurting you because of that card, I've had plenty of bad experiences running proprietary video drivers. It is hard for any distro to keep proprietary software in a good condition.

      Anyway, I've already taken that route, and the last GPU I brought was an ATI. The free driver isn't as fast as the other computer that has an nvidia with the proprietary driver (a

    • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

      Pi is exactly 3.

  • Dammit I do not know - but it is not going to be soon; how could they opensource it and prevent disclosing secrets to their competitors at the same time?
    • by gmack ( 197796 )

      Knowing NVIDIA it will be the same as it was for their chipset drivers so not before the FOSS drivers are nearly on par with the proprietary ones and they suddenly realize it's less work to fix the open driver rather than keep working on the proprietary.

  • When will NVIDIA change ways?

    When the open AMD driver gets to at least 100% of the proprietary driver's speed in ALL cases, AND when AMD's sales start jumping up because of it, AND when Ubuntu decides to stop making it easy to install the Nvidia proprietary driver*. In other words, when they have a market reason to change ways and when competition is threatening to creep up on them if they don't.

    Wow, that was easy enough. Next question?

    *: Face facts, among Linux users who are going to want to use high-end video cards, the vast majori

  • I understand the benefit of having a FOSS driver, but why would anyone in their right mind buy a $300-500 video card, then cripple the shit out of it by using the FOSS driver when their exists a proprietary driver that will give you 100% of the card's potential performance? It seems to me that instead of targeting the top-of-the-line GPUs, the Gallium3D project should be targeting the older GPU's that are more at risk of fading into obscurity. Yeah it's great they they can get the cutting-edge GPU's worki
    • by epine ( 68316 )

      I understand the benefit of having a FOSS driver, but why would anyone in their right mind buy a $300-500 video card, then cripple the shit out of it by using the FOSS driver when their exists a proprietary driver that will give you 100% of the card's potential performance?

      There's actually some logic here. The virtues of open source are similar to the virtues of slow cooking. The slow cooking approach is to pay $150 for a video card, then cripple the shit out of it with open source drivers, for any applic

  • When will NVIDIA change ways?

    That totally depends on who buys NVIDIA after Intel and AMD squeeze them to death. At that point, the answer could be anywhen between "immediately after that" and "never."

  • will never open up fully. And Microsoft will by up their IP at the fire sale to fuck over Linux just a bit more.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger