Testing was done with the Intel Core i7 5960X at stock speeds. The Linux 3.17 Git kernel atop Ubuntu 14.10 was used for this round of testing. The Core i7 5960X has eight physical cores plus Hyper Threading, 3.0GHz base frequency, and 3.5GHz turbo frequency (that's the reported difference in the system information table due to P-State advertising the turbo frequency where as CPUFreq just reports the base frequency).
While the Linux 3.17 kernel isn't being released for a few weeks, we already have a good idea for the DRM graphics driver improvements coming for the Linux 3.18 cycle.
Linux 3.17 has many new features, including many DRM graphics improvements, with Linux 3.18 there's of course more changes to get excited about; it's a never-ending cycle in improving Linux graphics drivers and the kernel stack as a whole. With Linux 3.18 though, it's going to be the first release where the drm-next merge window is closing early. Usually David Airlie, the DRM subsystem maintainer, allows new DRM graphics driver code to be introduced up until the start of the next kernel merge window, with that drm-next code-base then being sent in for mainline inclusion. Beginning with Linux 3.18, Airlie is planning to close the merge window of drm-next around the -rc5 state of the previous release. As a result, this week is likely the last that major new DRM graphics driver code has a chance to land for making the 3.18 window.
With X.Org Server 1.16 having landed in Ubuntu 14.10, it's time for some benchmarks comparing the 1.15 and 1.16 releases on Ubuntu while using the GLAMOR 2D acceleration library.
For some basic X.Org 2D benchmarks I tested a Radeon HD 7950 and R7 260X while running various Linux 2D desktop benchmarks on Ubuntu 14.10 with the Linux 3.16 kernel and Mesa 10.4-devel. In testing the two graphics cards, I was using X.Org Server 1.15.1 that was previously found in the Ubuntu Utopic archive and then switched to X.Org Server 1.16.0 with the rebuilt DDX driver packages too.
The open-source driver stack tested was with the Linux 3.17 Git kernel while using the Oibaf PPA to upgrade to Mesa 10.4-devel for the latest RadeonSI and LLVM AMD GPU code. The closed-source driver was the fglrx 14.20.7 / OpenGL 4.4.12968 Catalyst release. When running the Catalyst binary blob we had to downgrade from Linux 3.17 to Linux 3.16 for kernel compatibility. All tests were done from the Intel Core i7 5960X system running Ubuntu 14.10.
X.Org Server 1.17 is planned for release at the start of 2015 and thus puts the closing of the merge window in the middle of October. While some xorg-server 1.17 code has already landed, more is on the way.
X.Org Server 1.17 will continue with refining the in-server GLAMOR code that was merged with 1.16 for 2D acceleration in a generic manner over OpenGL. X.Org Server 1.17 is also looking to integrate the universal KMS mode-setting DDX driver. Keith Packard on Monday also shared several other code branches he's looking at as material for the 1.17 release.
Ben Skeggs sent in his Nouveau DRM driver changes for the drm-next tree of open-source NVIDIA driver improvements that will land in Linux 3.18.
With the DRM merge window now closing earlier in the cycle, David Airlie is cutting off new features for the next kernel merge window from landing into drm-next after -rc5 of the current kernel. Thus, this week is the cut-off for new DRM driver functionality aiming for Linux 3.18 with Linux 3.17-rc5 having been released. As such, Ben Skeggs sent in his big batch of Nouveau DRM improvements.
With the Intel Core i7 5960X Haswell-E is an eight-core processor with Hyper Threading to yield sixteen logical threads, we're seeing how well this extreme Haswell processor really scales with modern open-source workloads as we benchmark the i7-5960X under Ubuntu Linux and see how the benchmarks scale with varying core counts.
While the Maxwell-based GTX 900 series graphics cards are rumored to be launching in the weeks ahead, the GTX 750 Maxwell graphics cards on the open-source "Nouveau" Linux driver still need some more work before they'll play nicely when not using NVIDIA's proprietary Linux driver.
For NVIDIA Maxwell support within the open-source driver there's basic support within recent Linux kernel releases, the user-space code for Maxwell has landed within Nouveau's NVC0 Gallium3D driver, and there's xf86-video-nouveau support using GLAMOR. With the GLAMOR-required acceleration for Maxwell, the Nouveau DDX depends upon the built-in GLAMOR of X.Org Server 1.16 and newer (rather than the earlier independent GLAMOR acceleration library). With Ubuntu 14.10 now having X.Org Server 1.16 and is running the Linux 3.16 kernel (though with my tests for this Maxwell trial I already switched to Linux 3.17 Git), I pulled in the latest Mesa 10.4-devel packages and other updated components via the Oibaf PPA On Ubuntu 14.10.
The out-of-tree Direct3D 9.0 state tracker for Mesa's Gallium3D continues to show much potential for allowing Wine-based games to better perform on Linux with the open-source Gallium3D drivers.
There's a chance of this Direct3D 9 support being added to Mesa but Wine developers still appear uninterested in supporting this state tracker since it only covers Linux users, which itself is a subset of all Wine users with the program working on other programs too, and for the Linux support is bound just to those using the open-source Radeon and Nouveau Gallium3D drivers. For those going through the process of setting up "Gallium3D-Nine" and patching Wine, the D3D9 performance improvements tend to be dramatic over Wine's Direct3D-to-OpenGL translation layer.