Alongside the recent year-end tests of the Intel HD Graphics 4600 Haswell desktop OpenGL benchmarks were also some separate HD Graphics 4000 results from a Core i7 Ivy Bridge laptop. The ASUS Zenbook used for benchmarking had a Core i7 3517U processor with HD Graphics 4000, 4GB of RAM, and dual 128GB SSDs.
For this testing the same Zenbook with the same settings was tested across Ubuntu 12.10, Ubuntu 13.10, and Ubuntu 14.10 with upgrades to the Linux 3.18 kernel and Mesa 10.5-devel to mark the end 2014 experience. Across the Ubuntu upgrades were new versions of the Linux kernel, Mesa, and xf86-video-intel DDX to affect the OpenGL and 2D performance along with other factors like switching of default CPU governors and 2D acceleration architectures.
Following on from yesterday's Phoronix testing that provided an extensive look at AMD's incredible open-source driver advancements over 2014 by benchmarking the open-source graphics stack from the end of 2013 compared to the end of this year, out now is similar treatment for Intel HD Graphics with their open-source Linux driver for Haswell hardware.
One of the oddest things I found about the crowd-funded Librem 15 laptop when writing about it last month was that it wanted to be open-source down to the component firmware/microcode yet they opted to ship with a NVIDIA GPU. In an updated earlier this month, at least they came to their senses and dropped the discrete NVIDIA GPU. While I have no problems recommending NVIDIA graphics for Linux gamers and those wanting the best performance, that's only when using the proprietary drivers, and certainly wouldn't recommend it for a fully open-source system -- NVIDIA on the desktop side doesn't do much for the open-source drivers, let alone down to the firmware/microcode level. Instead the Librem folks have opted to upgrade the design to using an Intel Core i7 4770HQ processor that features more powerful Intel Iris Pro 5200 Graphics, which isn't as powerful as a discrete NVIDIA GPU but at least is more open-source friendly.
With the year quickly coming to an end, it's time to do our year-end driver recap benchmarks from the year for the proprietary AMD and NVIDIA graphics drivers as well as the open-source drivers. To get things started, here's benchmarks done of the official AMD Catalyst Linux releases of 2014 and testing these drivers on three different graphics cards.
For this article today, the major driver releases of the year for their mainline driver were benchmarked while ignoring some of the later drivers in each series that just shipped bug-fixes or new kernel / xorg-server support after a new driver series was already in beta or stable. The tested NVIDIA drivers for this article include the 331.38, 334.16, 337.12, 337.19, 340.17, 343.13, 343.22, 346.16, and 346.22 Linux x86_64 drivers. The 331 series was the last driver series from late 2013 for reference. The graphics card used for today's testing was a GeForce GTX 780 Ti (Kepler) graphics card as being a high performance GPU that's compatible with all of the driver releases tested throughout the year.
The performance of Civilization: Beyond Earth on Linux is quite demanding. The OpenBenchmarking.org test profile of Civilization Beyond Earth uses roughly the high image quality settings and for this article the tests were done at 1920 x 1080. As the results are about to show, even with modern graphics cards, it's quite a chore putting out a decent frame-rate at 1080p for this strategy game.