Windows 10 versus Ubuntu 16.04 versus NVIDIA versus AMD

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 20, 2016 - 08:11 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, ubuntu, R9 Fury, nvidia, linux, GTX1070, amd

Phoronix wanted to test out how the new GTX 1070 and the R9 Fury compare on Ubuntu with new drivers and patches, as well as contrasting how they perform on Windows 10.  There are two separate articles as the focus is not old silicon versus new but the performance comparison between the two operating systems.  AMD was tested with the Crimson Edition 16.6.1 driver, AMDGPU-PRO Beta 2 (16.20.3) driver as well as Mesa 12.1-dev.  There were interesting differences between the tested games as some would only support one of the two Linux drivers.  The performance also varies based on the game engine, with some coming out in ties, others seeing Windows 10 pull ahead and even some cases where your performance on Linux was significantly better.

NVIDIA's GTX 1080 and 1070 were tested using the 368.39 driver release for Windows and the 367.27 driver for Ubuntu.  Again we see mixed results, depending on the game Linux performance might actually beat out Windows, especially if OpenGL is an option. 

Check out both reviews to see what performance you can expect from your GPU when gaming under Linux.

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"Yesterday I published some Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu 16.04 Linux gaming benchmarks using the GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 graphics cards. Those numbers were interesting with the NVIDIA proprietary driver but for benchmarking this weekend are Windows 10 results with Radeon Software compared to Ubuntu 16.04 running the new AMDGPU-PRO hybrid driver as well as the latest Git code for a pure open-source driver stack."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: Phoronix

Yooka-Laylee Trailer for E3 2016 Released

Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2016 - 07:46 PM |
Tagged: windows, pc gaming, osx, linux

The next week-and-a-half should be good for video game enthusiasts. E3 2016 starts on June 14th, although EA, Bethesda, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Sony, and AMD (with PCGamer) have press conferences throughout the 12th and the 13th. Of course, not to get lost in the traffic, many entities are releasing their announcements prior to those conferences. For instance, Watch Dogs 2 will have a reveal on this Wednesday, June 8th, five days prior to Ubisoft's press conference.

This post is about a Kickstarter project called Yooka-Laylee, though. This title is being created by Playtonic Games, which contains several past employees of Rare, apparently to create a proper Banjo-Kazooie-style platform title. It raised over two million British Pounds (~3 million USD) and targeted an October 2016 release date. That has since slipped to Q1 2017, but that should be expected for a crowdfunding project, especially when the stretch goals start piling up. It is scheduled to be released on Windows, Mac, and Linux... and a few other boxes.

Of course, they couldn't resist making a Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts joke at the end...

... I chuckled.

Linux Gaming Is Growing on Us?

Subject: General Tech | June 6, 2016 - 11:46 AM |
Tagged: steam, pc gaming, linux

According to Phoronix, gaming on Linux has experienced exponential growth in recent times. Over the course of the last two years, Steam's catalog on the platform expanded from 500 games up to over 2200. This is a little over a 4.4x increase over two years. If I'm doing my high-school math correctly, and I seriously hope I am, this corresponds to an average increase of just under 2.1x year-over-year.

In other words, this is litearlly the trend, minus half-life. Snicker snicker snicker.

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The quantity of Linux's games catalog is a very different argument from its quality, of course. Still, you can find many interesting titles there. Valve has been porting their catalog to the OS, as have other, high-end titles, like Tomb Raider, Trine, Civilization V, Civilization: Beyond Earth, XCOM, and a couple Borderlands versions. If interested in specifics, and you enjoy a sense of humor like you would see on our PC Perspective Podcast, check out LinuxGameCast for their reviews of specific titles.

Source: Phoronix

AMD Published AMD GPU-PRO Beta Driver (for Linux)

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 4, 2016 - 03:15 AM |
Tagged: linux, graphics drivers, AMDGPU, amd

On Windows, we really only have one graphics driver per GPU. On Linux, however, there is a choice between open drivers and closed, binary-only blobs. Open drivers allow users to perpetuate support, for either really old hardware or pre-release software, without needing the GPU vendor to step in. It can also be better for security, because open-source software can be audited, which is better (albeit how much better is up for debate) than just having a few eyes on it... if any at all.

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As we reported a few months ago, AMD has been shifting their structure. Rather than two completely different code-bases, AMDGPU is an open-source driver, officially supported by AMD, that communicates with the Linux kernel. This chunk is compliant with the GPL, so it can be bundled with the operating system. Above this, a user space driver adds the various APIs, game-specific optimizations, and so forth. AMD calls this plug-in component AMD GPU-PRO.

This component has now been released for Ubuntu 16.04, which includes OpenGL 4.5, OpenCL 1.2, and Vulkan 1.0.

Open-source developers can create their own components, using the same AMDGPU hooks that AMD uses, and release those on their own. This is not a perfect solution, though. If, at any point, AMD disagrees with a necessary, proposed change, then the only way forward could be to fork the project, which AMD wouldn't support with their closed-source blob, leading to the previous situation. That said, AMD is putting a lot of effort into this, so it would stand to reason that they aren't intending to throw all of that away over a pull request.

Either way, you can get AMD GPU-PRO Beta from AMD's page for Ubuntu 16.04. SteamOS added AMD GPU-PRO with their 2.80 update last week.

Source: AMD

People may actually be migrating to Linux, or at least off of Windows

Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2016 - 07:36 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, microsoft, market share, linux

We've all seen the comments about how Windows 10 has finally convinced people to switch operating systems but today we have numbers which show that some may have been true to their word.  According to Netmarketshare the marketshare of Windows on desktop machines has dropped below 90% for the first time.  Mac OSX holds onto 3.96% of the market but the Other category is up to 8.59%, which is the category that represents the various flavours of Linux; it holds 1.56%, as well as other non-Microsoft OSes.  It may not be the year of Linux but it certainly is not Microsoft's year.  You can read the calm, rational discussion over at Slashdot on this topic, it is guaranteed to provide amusement.

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"Windows 7 is still the king, but it no longer holds the majority. Nine months after Windows 10's release, Windows 7 has finally fallen below 50 percent market share and Windows XP has dropped into single digits. While this is good news for Microsoft, April was actually a poor month for Windows overall, which for the first time owned less than 90 percent of the market, according to the latest figures from Net Applications."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

A tiny fanless PC from CompuLab, check out the Broadwell powered Airtop

Subject: Systems | April 5, 2016 - 05:25 PM |
Tagged: compulab, airtop, passive cooling, linux, SFF

Phoronix has spent a bit of time with the CompuLab Airtop PC, a SFF machine with passive cooling and no moving parts.  It sports decent components, an i7-5775C Broadwell processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB ADATA SSD, and a GeForce GTX 950, with Linux Mint installed and support for just about any other flavour of that OS you might prefer.  It also has a very impressive array of outputs on the back including dual LAN ports and antennae for wireless connectivity, two power connectors for redundancy and a plethora of USB 3.0, HDMI, DisplayPort and other ports.  Check out this overview of the construction and a quick peek at the performance of this passively cooled machine.

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"At the end of February I posted my initial hands-on with the passively-cooled Airtop PC that's been exciting many readers over its unique design and being Linux-friendly. As I hadn't written anymore about it in the past few weeks, some Phoronix readers had emailed me and tweeted, curious what the deal was and if it wasn't living up to expectations. That's not the case at all and the Airtop PC continues to exhibit great potential and is yet another solid offering from CompuLab."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

Source: Phoronix

Canonical’s First Ubuntu Tablet Available For Pre-Order

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2016 - 10:16 PM |
Tagged: ubuntu, linux, mediatek, SoC, arm, tablet

Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system, is now offering up its first Ubuntu tablet with Spanish manufacturing partner BQ. The Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition is a 10-inch tablet powered by ARM and loaded with Ubuntu 15.04.

The tablet features an all black (or white) case with rounded edges and a matte back. Mobilegeeks managed to get hands on with the Android version of the Aquaris M10 which you can check out here. The internals are a bit different on the Ubuntu Edition, but the chassis and design remains the same. It measures 8.2mm thick and weighs in at 470 grams (1.03 pounds). The front is dominated by a 10.1” AHVA touchscreen display that comes in either 1280 x 800 or Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution depending on the model. A capacitive home button sits below along with two 0.7W speakers while a 5MP webcam is positioned above the display. There is an 8MP rear camera, and the sides hold Micro HDMI, Micro USB, Micro SD, and 3.5mm audio ports.

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The Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition is powered by a quad core MediaTek SoC with Mali-T720MP2 graphics, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of eMMC storage (with approximately 10GB usable by end users) that can be expanded via Micro SD cards up to 64GB. The Full HD model uses the MediaTek MT8163A clocked at 1.5 GHz while the HD Aquaris M10 uses the slightly lower clocked MT8163B running at 1.3 GHz.

Wireless capabilities include 802.11n (dual band) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS. It is powered by a 7,280 mAh Li-Po battery. BQ has pre-loaded the tablet with Ubuntu 15.04 which users will likely want to update once drivers are ready as it is End-of-Life.

The Aquaris M10 is available for pre-order now, with expected ship dates in early April. The HD Ubuntu Edition tablet is listed at €259.90 ($295) while the Full HD version will run you €299.90 ($340). Currently, the Full HD tablet comes in black and the HD tablet is all white. Both models come with a screen protector and case as a pre-order bonus.

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It is interesting to see an official Ubuntu tablet, but I wonder if this is too little, too late for the open source OS. Canonical is positioning this as a daily driver that can be a tablet when you want to be mobile, a PC when propped up with a case and paired with wireless keyboard and mouse, and a media streamer when connecting it to the big screen with HDMI. I would expect performance to improve over time once the community gets a hold of it and starts tweaking it though the hardware is going to be a limiting factor. I want a Linux tablet to succeed, and hopefully this will open the door for higher end models. I don’t see myself jumping on this particular one though at this price.

Are you excited for the Ubuntu Edition M10?

Source: Canonical

Red matter and green blood; Vulkan runs on Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 24, 2016 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: Ubuntu 16.04, linux, vulkan, amd, nvidia

Last week AMD released a new GPU-PRO Beta driver stack and this Monday, NVIDIA released the 364.12 beta driver, both of which support Vulkan and meant that Phoronix had a lot of work to do.  Up for testing were the GTX 950, 960, 970, 980, and 980 Ti as well as the R9 Fury, 290 and 285.  Logically, they used the Talos Principal test, their results compare not only the cards but also the performance delta between OpenGL and Vulkan and finished up with several OpenGL benchmarks to see if there were any performance improvements from the new drivers.  The results look good for Vulkan as it beats OpenGL across the board as you can see in the review.

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"Thanks to AMD having released their new GPU-PRO "hybrid" Linux driver a few days ago, there is now Vulkan API support for Radeon GPU owners on Linux. This new AMD Linux driver holds much potential and the closed-source bits are now limited to user-space, among other benefits covered in dozens of Phoronix articles over recent months. With having this new driver in hand plus NVIDIA promoting their Vulkan support to the 364 Linux driver series, it's a great time for some benchmarking. Here are OpenGL and Vulkan atop Ubuntu 16.04 Linux for both AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: Phoronix

Testing the performance of 15 different Linux distros on Skylake

Subject: General Tech | March 9, 2016 - 06:14 PM |
Tagged: linux, Fedora, ubuntu, debian, CentOS, opensuse, Antergos, Sabayon, Void Linux, Zenwalk, KaOS, Clear, Alpine, Skylake

Phoronix have just wrapped up a marathon benchmarking session comparing 15 different flavours of Linux on a system with a Skylake based Xeon E3-1280 v5 and a MSI Radeon R7 370.  They tested a long list of programs, from SQLite through OpenGL based games and multi-threaded ray-tracer benchmarks.  They wrap up the reveiw with a table showing all the results in an easy to see format for you to reference when choosing your preferred Linux distro.  If you know what tasks your machine will be assigned to, you can see which of these 15 distros will offer you the best performance, as not every Linux machine is used for the same purpose.

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"Succeeding January's 10-way Linux distribution battle is now a 15-way Linux distribution comparison on an Intel Xeon "Skylake" system with Radeon R7 graphics. Distributions part of this Linux OS performance showdown include Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, OpenSUSE, Antergos, Sabayon, Void Linux, Zenwalk, KaOS, Clear Linux, and Alpine Linux."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Phoronix

LinuxGameCast Benchmarks Vulkan on Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 20, 2016 - 12:11 AM |
Tagged: vulkan, linux

Update: Venn continued to benchmark and came across a few extra discoveries. For example, he disabled VDPAU and jumped to 89.6 FPS in OpenGL and 80.6 FPS in Vulkan. Basically, be sure to read the whole thread. It might be updated further even. Original post below (unless otherwise stated).

On Windows, the Vulkan patch of The Talos Principle leads to a net loss in performance, relative to DirectX 11. This is to be expected when a developer like Croteam optimizes their game for existing APIs, and tries to port all that work to a new, very different standard, with a single developer and three months of work. They explicitly state, multiple times, not to expect good performance.

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Image Credit: Venn Stone of LinuxGameCast

On Linux, Venn Stone of LinuxGameCast found different results. With everything maxed out at 1080p, his OpenGL benchmark reports 38.2 FPS, while his Vulkan raises this to an average of 66.5 FPS. Granted, this was with an eight-core AMD FX-8150, which launched with the Bulldozer architecture back in 2011. It did not have the fastest single-threaded performance, falling behind even AMD's own Phenom II parts before it in that regard.

Still, this is a scenario that allowed the game to scale to Bulldozer's multiple cores and circumvent a lot of the driver overhead in OpenGL. It resulted in a 75% increase in performance, at least for people who pair a GeForce 980 Ti ((Update: The Ti was a typo. Venn uses a standard GeForce GTX 980.)) with an eight-core, Bulldozer CPU from 2011.