NVIDIA still holds the OpenGL crown on Linux; AMD is getting better though

Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2014 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: opengl, linux, amd, nvidia

If you are a Linux user who prefers to use OpenGL graphics there is still a huge benefit to choosing NVIDIA over AMD.  The tests Phoronix just completed show that the GTX680, 770 and 780 all perform significantly faster than the R9 290 with even the older GTX 550 Ti and 650 GPUs outperforming AMD's best in some benchmarks.  That said AMD is making important improvements to their open source drivers as that is where they are lagging behind NVIDIA.  The new RadeonSI Gallium3D for the HD7000 series shows significant performance improvements when paired with the new 3.13 kernel though still falling a bit behind the Catalyst driver they are now much closer to the performance of the proprietary driver.  For older cards the performance increase is nowhere near as impressive but some certain benchmarks do show this Gallium3D driver to provide at least some improvements.  Pity the Source engine isn't behaving properly during benchmarks which is why no tests were run on Valve's games but that should be solved in the near future.

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"In new tests conducted last week with the latest AMD and NVIDIA binary graphics drivers, the high-end AMD GPUs still really aren't proving much competition to NVIDIA's Kepler graphics cards. Here's a new 12 graphics card comparison on Ubuntu."

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Source: Phoronix

Windows versus Linux in an OpenGL free for al

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2013 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: linux, ubuntu 13.04, fedora 18, win7, opengl, Ivy Bridge

One major barrier to switching to Linux for many users is the graphical performance of the OS; Steam may be releasing a variety of games which will run on Linux but if the performance is awful there are not going to be many who think about making the switch.  Phoronix has been a close eye on the development of OpenGL drivers for Linux, this time specifically the onboard Intel graphics present on Ivy Bridge chips.  With one driver available for each OS the tests were easily set up, except for the aforementioned Steam games as there is a bug which prevents Phoronix from collecting the performance data they need.  Check out the performance differences between Ubuntu 13.04, Fedora 18 and Win7 in the full article.

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"Last month Phoronix published Intel OpenGL benchmarks showing Windows 8 outperforming Ubuntu 13.04 with the latest Windows and Linux drivers from Intel. I also showed that even with the KDE and Xfce desktops rather than the default Unity/Compiz desktop to Ubuntu, Windows 8 still was faster on this Intel "Ivy Bridge" platform. The new benchmarks to share today from this Intel Ultrabook are the Windows 8 and Ubuntu 13.04 results but also with performance figures added in from Microsoft Windows 7 Professional Service Pack 1 x64 and Fedora 18."

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Source: Phoronix

Valve Opens Steam for Linux Beta to General Public

Subject: General Tech | December 28, 2012 - 03:32 AM |
Tagged: valve, ubuntu, steam, opengl, linux, gaming

Gamers were given an early holiday present last Friday when Valve announced it would be opening up its Steam for Linux beta to everyone. For the past few months the company has been testing out a version of its Steam client software intended to run on Ubuntu 12.04 Linux. Valve initially performed internal testing, and then proceeded to invite users to a closed beta. And now (finally), it seems that the company is comfortable enough with the applications stability that it can release it to the general public. While it is still very much beta software, it is actively being developed and improved.

Along with the move to a public beta, Valve is transitioning to GitHub to track changes and bug reports. Further, an apt repository is in the works, which should make installing and updating the Steam beta client easier, especially on non-Ubuntu distros (like Ubuntu forks). From the documentation available on the Steam website, it seems that apt-get install gdebi-coreand gdebi steam.debis still the preferred command line installation proceedure, however. 

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Further, Valve has fixed several issues in the latest Steam for Linux client. (Users that were in the closed beta will need to update). The company has improved the back navigation arrow placement and added discount timers and other UI tweaks to Big Picture Mode, for example. Valve has also fixed a bug concerning high CPU usage when playing Team Fortress 2 and an issue with the Steam overlay crashing while playing Cubemen.

Right now, the game selection is very limited, but the client itself is fairly stable. The traditional and Big Picture Mode UI are identical to the Windows version that many gamers are familiar with, which is good. Installation on Ubuntu was really easy, but I had trouble getting it to work with the latest version of Linux Mint. In the end, I was not able to use the CLI method, but the GUI instructions that Valve provides ended up working. At the moment Valve is only officially supporting the beta on Ubuntu, but it is likely to be expanded to other Debian forks as well as used in Valve’s Steam Box console.

The full announcement can be found on the Steam Community site, and the repository files are located here. Another useful resource is the getting started thread on the Steam forums, where you can find help getting the client installed (especially useful if you are trying to install it on an alternative distro).

Have you used the Steam for Linux client yet? I’m excited to see more games and engines support the Linux OS, as that will be what will make or break it.

Source: Valve

NVIDIA's new Linux drivers do well until you try the OpenGL optimizations

Subject: General Tech | October 18, 2012 - 01:05 PM |
Tagged: opengl, nvidia, linux, driver

Phoronix tested out the new beta Linux driver from NVIDIA on a GTX 680 and saw some nice performance improvements compared to the previous generation of driver.  They tested not just popular Linux games but also several Unigine benchmarks and for the most part when using just the basic driver they saw noticeable improvements and would recommend updating your system.  On the other hand when they enabled the threaded OpenGL optimization performance plummeted in every test, leading Phoronix to describe the current threaded OpenGL support as "a mess at this point.".  If you were hoping to take advantage of the new threading options, you'd best hold off for another driver revision.

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"With the NVIDIA 310.14 Beta driver introduced at the beginning of this week there are some OpenGL performance improvements in general plus an experimental threaded OpenGL implementation that can be easily enabled. In this article are benchmarks from the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 with this new Linux driver release."

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Source: Phoronix

For G's a jolly good L ohhh... which 20 years can't deny.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 7, 2012 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: Siggraph, opengl, OpenGL ES, OpenGL 4.3, OpenGL ES 3.0

OpenGL turned 20 as of the start of this year. Two new versions of the API have just been released during SIGGRAPH: OpenGL 4.3 and OpenGL ES 3.0. Ars Technica put together a piece to outline the changes in these versions – most importantly: feature parity between Direct3D 11 and OpenGL 4.3.

As much attention as Direct3D gets for PC gamers – you cannot ignore OpenGL.

Reigning in graphics hardware is a real challenge. We desire to make use of all the computational performance of our devices but also make it easy to develop for in as few times as possible. Regardless of what mobile, desktop, or other device you own – if it contains a GPU it almost definitely supports either OpenGL or OpenGL ES.

Even certain up-and-coming websites utilize the GPU to break new ground.

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The Khronosgraph says 20 years.

Two new versions of OpenGL were recently published: OpenGL 4.3 as well as OpenGL ES 3.0. For the first time OpenGL allows programmers to access compute shaders which makes it easier to accelerate computations which do not work upon pixels, vertices, or geometry without bringing in OpenCL or some other API. Unfortunately this feature does not appear to carry over to OpenGL ES 3.0.

OpenGL ES is also important, not just for native mobile development as it is intended, but also because it is considered the basis of WebGL. It is likely that a future WebGL revision will contain the OpenGL ES 3.0 enhancements such as many rendering targets, more complex shaders, and so forth.

But it seems like the major reason why these two revisions were released together – apart from their timing aligning with the SIGGRAPH trade show – is because OpenGL and OpenGL ES have been somewhat merged. OpenGL ES 3.0 is now a subset of OpenGL 4.3 rather than some heavily overlapping Venn diagram. Porting from one specification to the other should be substantially easier.

So happy birthday, OpenGL – just don’t go down the toilet on your 21st.

Source: Ars Technica

More Ivy Bridge on Linux experiments

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2012 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: Intel, opengl, opencl, linux, Ivy Bridge

Intel really seems to have taken the general criticism about the lack of Linux support during the initial release of Sandy Bridge to heart and made sure not to repeat the mistake with Ivy Bridge.  Phoronix have spent the last two months exhaustively testing the performance of the i7-3770K and today offer some general observations about the chip and Intel's support of open source.  Much of it is good news, like the performance of the OpenGL driver as well as its support for OpenGL 4.0 but some is not so good such as the fact that AMD's OpenCL for the CPU works better than Intel's implementation with neither running on the GPU yet.  Check out the other findings in the article.

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"It has been 66 days since Intel formally introduced their Ivy Bridge processors as the 2012 successor to Sandy Bridge. My views on Intel Ivy Bridge (specifically the Core i7 3770K model) back on launch-day were very positive in terms of the Linux compatibility, CPU performance, and the HD 4000 graphics capabilities. Since then I've conducted dozens of additional tests looking at the Core i7 Ivy Bridge on Linux in different areas from comparative benchmarks to Microsoft Windows, trying to run BSD operating systems on the latest hardware, looking at the virtualization performance, compiler tuning, etc. Here is a recap of this additional Ivy Bridge testing that has happened over the past two months of near constant benchmarking."

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Source: Phoronix

A very specialized but completely open source CUDA-like program for image manipulation

Subject: General Tech | May 30, 2012 - 12:11 PM |
Tagged: CUDA, open source, opengl

Hack a Day linked to a program that could be of great use for anyone who manipulates and processes images, or anyone who wants to be able to make fractals very quickly.  Utilizing the OpenGL Shader Language Reuben Carter developed a command line tool that processes images using NVIDIA GPUs.  As we have talked about in the past on PC Perspective, GPUs are much better at this sort of parallel processing than a traditional CPU or the CPU portion on modern processors.  Below is one obvious use of this program, the quick creation of complex fractals but this program can also process pre-exisiting images.  Edge detection, colour transforms and perhaps even image recognition tasks can be completed with his software at a much faster speed than CPU bound image manipulation programs.  If you are in that field, or looking to decorate your dorm room,  you should grab his software via the GitHub link in the article.

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"If you ever need to manipulate images really fast, or just want to make some pretty fractals, [Reuben] has just what you need. He developed a neat command line tool to send code to a graphics card and generate images using pixel shaders. Opposed to making these images with a CPU, a GPU processes every pixel in parallel, making image processing much faster."

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Source: Hack a Day

Penguins made it to the Southern Islands - Ubuntu and the HD 7950

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 4, 2012 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: hd 7950, ubuntu 12.04, opengl, linux, amd

Phoronix revisited the performance the HD 7950 on the new Catalyst driver for Linux as it is no longer labelled as unsupported hardware.  That means that not only are the default clocks correct, you can use aticonfig/amdconfig to overclock the cards if you so desire.  The scaling of the card now matches the clock speed nicely and shows an improvement from the HD 6950 in the benchmarks.  You might not be able to find a Linux game which will take advantage of the full feature set and power of the HD 7950 but the card is capable of far more than providing you with pixels to slaughter.

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"Here are some updated benchmarks of the AMD Radeon HD 7950 "Southern Islands" graphics card under Linux with the proprietary Catalyst driver."

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Source: Phoronix

Can your smartphone deal with 100,000 triangles per frame? Find out with Rightware OpenGL ES Halti

Subject: General Tech | December 15, 2011 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: ES Halti, opengl, Basemark ES 2.0, rightware

The mobile reviews at PC Perspective tend to use SunSpider and Vellamo we also use a RightWare product called BrowserMark to test the responsiveness of smart phones and tablets.  RightWare now has a new tool for reviewers and those who tweak their phones, Basemark Halti which tests OpenGL performance.  This is of huge importance for those who want to have high quality gaming performance on their phones.  The first benchmark is called Rush and is reminiscent of Mirror's Edge, which is quite on purpose as the benchmark is intended to replicate PC quality character rendering.   The second involves a car racing around a track, a common type of gaming on a phone that contains an accelerometer.  Again, this is intended to push the ability of your phone as far as it can go.  AnandTech doesn't have the benchmarking software yet but you can bet it will be in their reviews for 2012.

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"GPU benchmarking on the smartphone side of things is continuing to heat up, and today RightWare, maker of both BrowserMark and the very popular Basemark ES 2.0 (which are regular fixations in our smartphone reviews), has announced its OpenGL ES Halti benchmark, named Basemark Halti. Basemark Halti is slated to launch in 2012 for testing OpenGL ES Halti on devices coming in the near future."

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Source: AnandTech

AMD pick up an OpenGL & CL tool makers as well as an R&D site

Subject: General Tech | June 1, 2011 - 11:19 AM |
Tagged: amd, opengl, opencl, graphic remedy

There is big news from AMD this morning, in addition to the Trinity news we saw from Computex they have purchased the makers of gDEBugger and have opened a new R&D centre in Tel Aviv.  gDEBugger is a debugger for OpenGL and OpenCL for Windows, Mac and Linux and hopefully spells a resurgence for AMD's ailing professional level FirePro graphics cards.   The Cayman family's two professional cards, the AMD FirePro V7900 and V5900 have just come onto the market to compete against NVIDIA's far more famous Quadro lineup and lag behind in raw performance but not in performance per dollar.  Perhaps a strong feature set, including custom debugging tools will help AMD become a more attractive choice for graphics professionals.   Drop by NGOHQ for more information on the purchase and the R&D centre.

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"AMD announced the opening of a new research and development (R&D) center in Israel, located in the Tel-Aviv area. A world class team of highly talented software engineers is working on the latest heterogeneous computing technologies for the next generation of parallel computing platforms. This announcement follows AMD’s recent acquisition of Graphic Remedy, a renowned Israeli startup company specializing in development tools for heterogeneous computing and 3D graphics.

"We are extremely excited to have this new team on board working on AMD’s latest technologies and future products.” said Ben Bar-Haim, corporate vice president, software development, AMD."

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Source: NGOHQ