NVIDIA driver support on Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 18, 2011 - 02:15 PM |
Tagged: linux, nvidia

We have seen benchmarks of the graphical performance of the GPU portion of Sandy Bridge as well as Llano for Linux users but NVIDIA has been quiet as of late.  That changes with this huge round up from Phoronix which assembles more than a dozen NVIDIA GPUs and associated drivers, the open-source Nouveau driver and the official NVIDIA Linux driver.  This is more than just a comparison of pure performance, there are a variety of features that are unavailable on the Nouveau driver that are present in NVIDIA's.  That can make a big difference to someone looking to transcode video or optimize certain tasks.  It is 24 pages of dense information, consider yourself warned.

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"Back in September I provided the most comprehensive AMD Radeon Linux graphics comparison that took 28 graphics cards from all supported ATI/AMD Radeon product families and tested them under Linux using the latest Catalyst driver as well as the open-source Mesa/Gallium3D driver. In this article is a similar comparison on the NVIDIA side as I take most of the GeForce graphics cards at my disposal and try them under the NVIDIA binary Linux driver and the community-developed open-source "Nouveau" driver. Not only is the OpenGL performance looked at for multiple generations of NVIDIA hardware, but the thermal and power consumption is compared too. In certain OpenGL workloads, the open-source Linux driver is now faster than NVIDIA's own driver for select graphics cards in a fair comparison, but overall the NVIDIA blob still reigns supreme."

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Source: Phoronix

A sub $200 AMD FirePro benchmarked on Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 3, 2011 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: amd, firepro, V4900, linux, turks

Workstation graphics cards tend to be significantly more expensive than their desktop counterparts, something the new AMD FirePro V4900 seeks to overcome.  The card is available for less than $200 but still comes with the advantages of the FirePro series, workstation application certification, a three-year hardware warranty and greater technical support than with a desktop GPU.  Performance wise, the benchmarks that Phoronix ran showed the card to be nicely between the V4800 and V5800 so perhaps not worth immediately running out and upgrading from the previous low end model but definitely worth considering for new machines.

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"AMD is announcing today a new FirePro workstation graphics card. What is being announced is not a new ultra high-end creation, but instead it's a new entry-level graphics card to fit in between the FirePro V4800 and FirePro V5800 / V5900: it's the AMD FirePro V4900. The FirePro V4900 will retail for less than $200 USD while offering up some nice capabilities for the price. Here is a launch-day look at the FirePro V4900 along with the first Linux benchmarks of this latest AMD workstation graphics creation."

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Source: Phoronix

Bulldozing through Linux benchmarks

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, FX 8150, linux

With the lacklustre performance we saw from AMD's new Bulldozer CPUs on Windows except in seriously multi-threaded applications; it is with a hopeful heart that Phoronix tests the performance of the FX-8150 under Ubuntu 11.04.  There are a lot of benchmarks to go through, from general performance to specific AMD-centric tests to those focusing specifically on multi-threaded performance and even a look at the bundled watercooler.  Read through the benchmarks they've run themselves as well as user submitted test and then realize that this is only the first of a series of articles they are working on ... so for now they hold judgment on AMD's newest product.

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"Two weeks ago AMD introduced the Bulldozer FX-Series CPUs to much excitement, although many were letdown by the initial results, and it was months after showing the first Linux benchmarks of an AMD Dual-Interlagos pre-production system. In the days that followed I delivered some initial AMD FX-4100 Linux benchmarks when securing remote access to a low-end Bulldozer system running Ubuntu 11.04 (and there were also some Linux benchmarks from independent Phoronix readers), but then last week a Bulldozer kit arrived from AMD. The centerpiece of this kit is an eight-core AMD FX-8150 CPU, which is now being used to conduct a plethora of AMD Bulldozer benchmarks on Linux."

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Source: Phoronix

Ivy Bridge will power three headed Linux powered monsters

Subject: General Tech | October 6, 2011 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: Ivy Bridge, linux, multi monitor

Intel's Linux graphics driver is open source and the developers who work on it ensure that their code is publicly available which results in findings such as the one Phoronix is reporting on this morning.  While examining the Direct Rendering Manager kernel driver they discovered more information on the triple video output support that Ivy Bridge is supposed to support.  It seems that some Ivy Bridge motherboard will sport three DisplayPort outputs which can all be used simultaneously and others a pair of HDMI ports with a D-SUB connector making up the third output.  More importantly, because this was found in the Linux driver it becomes obvious that Intel intends to support multi-monitor output on Linux.  Watch out AMD.

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"Patches were made public by Intel yesterday for their Linux graphics driver that enable "Ivy Bridge" hardware to simultaneously drive three monitors. Thanks to Intel's Linux driver being open-source and their OSTC developers doing the hardware enablement work in public, there's some new details about this triple monitor support for the next-generation Ivy Bridge hardware."

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Source: Phoronix

Interrupting Oktoberfest to run Mesa benchmarks under Linux

Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2011 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: linux, mesa, HiZ, Intel, sandy bridge

Phoronix are dedicated to testing out the current limitations of Linux and the graphics performance Sandy Bridge is capable of, so much so that they abandoned the joys of Oktoberfest to test the new implementation of hierarchical Z support for Intel's Mesa DRI driver.  Specifically they wanted to see the improvements made to the performance of the graphical portion of a Core i5 2520M.  The new implementation did well, with improvements across the board though more impressive in some tasks that others.  Read on to see what you can expect from the new Mesa driver.

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"While there are still several days left of this year's Oktoberfest, to take a short break this morning from benchmarking the wonderful beer, food, and Bavarian females, here are benchmarks of the new Intel HiZ Linux support. Just a few days ago a new, nearly ready patch-set was published for implementing hierarchical Z support within Intel's Mesa DRI driver."

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Source: Phoronix

Solid State Penguin

Subject: Storage | September 6, 2011 - 03:00 PM |
Tagged: vertex 3, ssd, SF-2281 controller, sata 6Gps, ocz, linux

The majority of reviews of solid state drives have been focussed on the performance of the drives under Windows, thankfully Phoronix can be counted on to differ from that and present a reveiw of an SSD under Linux.  This particular time it is the OCZ Vertex 3 240GB SSD under Ubuntu 11.10 with the Linux 3.0 kernel and an EXT4 file-system.  The OS had no problems recognizing the drive and it is obvious that Linux has no problems fully utilizing the SATA 6Gb/s interface as the drive blows the competition out of the water.  The only problem is that the price of the drive remains prohibitive no matter what OS you use, but your money will not be wasted.

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"It's been a while since last providing a Phoronix review of a solid-state drive from OCZ Technology, but now with Serial ATA 3.0 support becoming more prevalent on modern Intel and AMD motherboards, they have been releasing a number of updated products to take advantage of SATA 3.0. In the review we have our hands on an OCZ Vertex 3 240GB SSD as we see how this SATA III SSD performs under Ubuntu Linux."

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Source: Phoronix

Llano on Linux, good but not good enough

Subject: Processors | August 22, 2011 - 12:06 PM |
Tagged: amd, linux, llano, a8-3850

Phoronix is still satisfying their curiosity about the performance of Llano under Linux.  To that end they assembled an A8-3850 with Gigabyte's GA-A75M-UD2H motherboard, 2GB of DDR3 memory, and a 60GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD and installed Ubuntu 11.04 64-bit, GNOME 2.32.1, X.Org Server 1.10.1, and an EXT4 file-system.  To power the system they had a few choices but unfortunately the one they were most interested in, AMD's Open64 4.2.4, failed to compile.  That left them with two versions of GCC and Clang to test in a variety of benchmarks.  There is still some work to do to bring all of the power of Llano to Linux, but for now this will give you a good idea which to use.

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"Last week were a set of AMD Fusion A8-3850 Linux benchmarks on Phoronix, but for you this week is a look at the AMD Fusion "Llano" APU performance when trying out a few different compilers. In particular, the latest GCC release and then using the highly promising Clang compiler on LLVM, the Low-Level Virtual Machine."

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Source: Phoronix

64 Bit Flash Support Returns To Linux With Flash Player 11

Subject: General Tech | July 15, 2011 - 02:50 AM |
Tagged: linux, flash, Adobe

Linux, once the beholder of 64 bit versions of the Adobe Flash plug-in, has been without any form of 64 bit support for the past few iterations (since version 10.1 to be more specific); however, Adobe has finally reinstated support for the 64 bit Linux version with the newly announced Adobe Flash Player 11 Beta. Currently only available on the desktop (Adobe claims the mobile version is coming soon), the new beta brings a new method of 2D and 3D rendering dubbed the Stage 3D API. This new API uses GPU-acceleration to speed up rendering across “multiple screens and devices.” Support for H.264/AVC SW camera encoding and Native JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) are also features of the beta.

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The announcement also briefly covers the improved security measures, specifically those that relate to GPU-acceleration. The new Stage 3D rendering API includes a new simple shader language dubbed AGAL (Adobe Graphics Assembly Language) that prohibits loops or functions inside shaders. Further, Adobe has added restrictions to the API to limit the number of calls per frame in an attempt to mitigate DDoS attacks.

The new desktop beta is available now for download. 64 bit Linux users rejoice, for the necessary evil that is Flash has returned to you.

Source: Adobe

SandyBridge graphics performance showdown; Linux versus Win7

Subject: Processors | July 13, 2011 - 05:27 PM |
Tagged: linux, windows, ostc, SBNA, sandybridge

In the first showdown that Phoronix tried, the Linux driver for Intel's HD3000 iGPU beat out the Win7 driver handily.  That win was due to the OSTC Linux engineers at Intel doing a bang up job on the Linux drivers, while the Windows team lagged behind a bit.  A few months have passed and the laggards on the Windows team have since released a major update to their drivers, necessitating Phoronix to repeat the test.  Unfortunately for them the Linux team has also released improvements, specifically "Sandy Bridge New Acceleration".  Can the Windows team retake the lead, or should you switch to OpenGL games on Linux? Read on to see.

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"The new benchmarks going out today on Phoronix are looking at the performance of Intel's Sandy Bridge graphics with the latest Microsoft Windows 7 and Ubuntu Linux drivers. Not only are we using the very latest drivers, but there is also a separate Linux test run with SNA, the "Sandy Bridge New Acceleration" architecture enabled."

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Source: Phoronix

Linux has been having power management problems and this is why

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2011 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: linux, ASPM, battery

The recent release of the 2.6.38 Linux kernel has lead to many complaints from mobile users who find their battery life noticably reduced.  Phoronix noticed the issue a while back but until now had not completed enough investigation to be able to pinpoint the cause.  With the arrival of a power monitor they are now willing to point a finger at Active-State Power Management for PCI Express and BIOS compatibility as the cause.  While the desktop users enjoy an increase in speed in certain applications that require their PCIe lanes to be going full out, mobile users notice the drain on the battery as the PCIe lanes take as much power as they can whether they need it or not.  For mobile users whose top priority is power savings, it is recommended that you stick with a pre-2.6.35 kernel as there are also power issues related to that build.  Phoronix does offer a possible solution for some users in their article if you do need to use the latest build.

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"Mobile users are urged to seriously consider these results, and possibly even avoid the Natty Narwhal...I hate to say it, especially in an Ubuntu review, but the mobile edge goes to Windows for now...There are also compelling reasons for folks to avoid [Ubuntu 11.04] at all costs. Linux gamers should see substantial improvements, while mobile users suffer a dramatic loss in battery life," were among the critical comments that Tom's Hardware had in their Ubuntu 11.04 review as they were referencing the power regressions I discovered nearly two months ago within the mainline Linux kernel. As I mentioned on Sunday, the Phoronix Test Suite stack and I have now nailed this major power regression in the Linux 2.6.38 kernel that is affecting a significant number of mobile Linux users. Here is what is happening and a way that you should be able to workaround the serious regression should it affect your computer system(s)."

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Source: Phoronix