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Valve Shares Performance Numbers On Port of Left4Dead 274

New submitter nschubach writes in with an update on Valve's progress porting one of their games to GNU/Linux. From the article: "One factor in creating a good gaming experience is throughput. This post discusses some of what we've learned about the performance of our games running on Linux. ... After this work, Left 4 Dead 2 is running at 315 FPS on Linux. That the Linux version runs faster than the Windows version (270.6) seems a little counter-intuitive, given the greater amount of time we have spent on the Windows version. However, it does speak to the underlying efficiency of the kernel and OpenGL. Interestingly, in the process of working with hardware vendors we also sped up the OpenGL implementation on Windows. Left 4 Dead 2 is now running at 303.4 FPS with that configuration." nschubach adds "It seems there are good things coming out of this for both Operating Systems!"
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Valve Shares Performance Numbers On Port of Left4Dead

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  • by FTWinston ( 1332785 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @09:52AM (#40855407) Homepage
    To be fair, it was their porting to to Open GL that improved the windows Open GL performance. What I find more interesting, to be honest, is that Open GL is (slightly) outperforming Direct 3D on a windows/nvidia box.
  • Efficiency (Score:3, Interesting)

    by defender.tx ( 2699199 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @09:54AM (#40855441)
    Takeaway: the linux kernel and OpenGL are arguably more efficient than their Windows-based counterparts. I think a lot of people have thought this to be true for years, but it's always nice to see solid comparisons. It's a good time to have a linux box!
  • Re:Efficiency (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Urza9814 ( 883915 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @10:00AM (#40855493)

    Yea, I noticed several years ago, back when I used to play WoW and my computer could barely handle, that it would run faster in Linux on Wine with OpenGL than it would on Windows XP. I mean I'm talking ~5fps on windows to ~15fps with better graphics on Linux -- not really playable on Windows, barely playable on Linux.

  • by kav2k ( 1545689 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @10:09AM (#40855595)

    What I find really interesting is the fact that this port spurred impovements in proprietary OpenGL drivers, in close collaboration with manufacturers.

    This push by Valve may benefit everyone, even people who never will use Steam.

  • by defender.tx ( 2699199 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @10:10AM (#40855619)
    See for yourself. Download the Heaven DX11 Benchmark []. Run it in DX11 API mode and then OpenGL mode and see the difference. There is a difference, but it's fairly minor. Usually DX11 or OpenGL will be the first to support a new feature, then the other supports it in the next release. The end result is that they normally produce a similar graphics quality.
  • by synapse7 ( 1075571 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @10:11AM (#40855631)
    Does the openGL driver/port have the same graphic detail as the directX version?
  • Re:Year of... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Deorus ( 811828 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @10:18AM (#40855729)

    Linux Desktop? Nope. Desktops are dying anyway, almost everyone has moved to laptops.

    This is unfortunate. Ever since I became a nomad (and switched to Apple) that I miss actually shopping for desktop hardware. Every time I enter a retail store and look at the high-end video cards I really really want to build a desktop, but it can't fit my luggage... The desktop PC is far from being dead and I am already missing it, I think it's gonna be one of those things that I will remember from early 21st century just like I miss tinkering with analog electronics in the 80s (no, I'm not old, I was born in that decade).

    Year of the Linux game console, perhaps?

    Rumor has it that Valve is building a console with PC hardware, so I wouldn't rule out that possibility. They feel that the Windows and Mac App Stores represent a threat to Steam as a third party, so this may be part of their strategy to build a platform of their own. Blizzard has expressed similar feelings, which makes sense if we consider the rumor that they had and probably still have a third party service like Steam planned for (at least according to the leaked schedules [] which have been quite accurate, though third parties is overdue at this point).

  • Re:Episode 3 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @10:35AM (#40855961)

    If you haven't noticed, Valve stopped making games a while ago and instead became a content whoring system. One game every 5+ years doesn't make you a game developer IMHO.

  • Re:Year of... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ratchet ( 79516 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @10:48AM (#40856113) Homepage

    I think they aren't so much building a game console as they are building a spec for a Linux based gaming PC for everyone to get behind. That makes more sense to me. I, quite literally, only use Windows to play games. Every thing else I either do on my phone, tablet, or already just as easily could do under Linux. If they can make it easy for us hardcore gamers to transition to Linux, then I doubt any of us would bother with Windows again.

    The only issue is support for all this cutting edge hardware I have. Linux is always a problem there, but if gamers start to flock, I hope so too will the companies that make our gaming hardware.

  • by Ynot_82 ( 1023749 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @10:58AM (#40856237)

    I'm sure lots more details are coming.

    Valve are doing a big presentation on their Linux adventures next week at SIGGRAPH (6th - 9th Aug)

  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @11:16AM (#40856479)

    Sorry, I sort of glossed over that distinction.

    The problem is in how the code works with the kernel (or GL driver). That can be fixed either by reworking how the code calls it, or reworking how the kernel (or driver) works internally. I referred to this, ambiguously, as "problems with the kernel", not "problems working with the kernel".

    As far as kernel stuff, they seem to have done it entirely on their side. I imagine most of it was memory allocation - Linux's malloc() has much different performance characteristics than Window's malloc(), and that's 90% of your kernel calls right there.

    The GL stuff they fixed in both places. In some, they were using it in a sub-optimal way. Sometimes they had to work with the driver team to get it fixed in the driver.

  • Re:Great (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ignacio ( 1465 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @11:20AM (#40856515)

    Windows loves developers, OS X hates developers, Linux IS developers.

  • Re:Year of... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 02, 2012 @11:24AM (#40856557) Journal

    Yeah ya know, every time I hear someone say "Oh Gabe is doing this because the Windows appstore is a threat" I just have to ask...has Gabe never TRIED GFWL? Its fucking horrible! The damned thing can't even show you WINDOWS games when you are on Games for WINDOWS Live, nope those are at the bottom of the page under a dozen Xbox games! Its crash prone, slow as hell to log in, matchmaking sucks hairy balls, its a total POS!

    The only "threat" the MS Appstore holds to Valve is the Cut The Rope, Angry Birds type of "gamers" that frankly wouldn't know WTF Steam was or that they even HAD those popcap style games in the first place! Mark my words, a year and a half from now old Gabe will still be laughing all the way to the bank while the MS Appstore will be added to Zune Market and GFWL in the "WTF were they thinking?" list.

    If ya ask me I'd say its pretty fricking obvious what old Gabe is doing...he is thinking "Steambox" with COTS parts similar to XBox 1 and a stripped down Linux with Steam for all the apps. Makes sense, have a combo game/media center where the console devs can sell to PC and console users with a single port, the only catch I see is getting the blood sucking publishers like EA and Activision to go along. Lets face it, those corps never met a customer they didn't want to assrape and the second they see its for the living room they are gonna be rubbing their hands together and thinking about how hard they are gonna hit that wallet. One of the big selling points of Steam is how many good games you can buy there cheap, its literally "push button to get game" with prices lower than going out for pizza.

    Personally I hope he pulls it off, I'd love a console where I can play my Steam games and just log into my account to have all my PC games right there to play with the boys, but i bet other than valve games the other publishers will screw the whole thing with their greed. Hey Valve, if you wanna do the whole Steambox, know what would be a GREAT launch title? How about Episode 3 huh? Just make sure we PC gamers can have it too okay?

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN