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Graphics Open Source Upgrades Games Hardware Linux

How OpenGL Graphics Card Performance Has Evolved Over 10 Years (phoronix.com) 115

An anonymous reader writes: A new report at Phoronix looks at the OpenGL performance of 27 graphics cards from the GeForce 8 through GeForce 900 series. Various Ubuntu OpenGL games were tested on these graphics cards dating back to 2006, focusing on raw performance and power efficiency. From oldest to newest, there was a 72x increase in performance-per-Watt, and a 100x increase in raw performance. The NVIDIA Linux results arrive after doing a similar AMD comparison from R600 graphics cards through the R9 Fury. However, that analysis found that for many of the older graphics cards, their open-source driver support regressed into an unworkable state. For the cards that did work, the performance gains were not nearly as significant over time.
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How OpenGL Graphics Card Performance Has Evolved Over 10 Years

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  • The study should have been called "measuring bit rot in open source drivers".
    • Pretty much... specifically open source drivers running on cards that happened to have very few active users and so essentially no real world test coverage. If the tests had covered even older cards that still had some active users (eg X1950) I suspect the results would have been different.
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt AT nerdflat DOT com> on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @05:06PM (#51332135) Journal

    While it's nice and all that we're getting 72x more performance per watt, since we are at 100x times the performance, that means that we are using 100/72=1.39 times the power that we used to.

    I could start into a tirade about how this is contributing to global warming, but I'll leave that somewhat political stance for another time.

    • While it's nice and all that we're getting 72x more performance per watt, since we are at 100x times the performance, that means that we are using 100/72=1.39 times the power that we used to.

      If we are getting that much of a performance boost, we are most likely not spending as much time maxing out the card's performance (and using that extra energy) as we were before.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        If we are getting that much of a performance boost, we are most likely not spending as much time maxing out the card's performance (and using that extra energy) as we were before.

        Ah, but 10 years ago or so, we were really happy to get 1080p resolution working. Then we added to it - quad HD (2560x1440 - 4x 720p), and now ultra-HD/4K (3840x2160).

        So a lot of performance improvements have gone to quadrupling the number of pixels we render out, including the increase in texture resolution and details.

        So we're li

        • by aliquis ( 678370 )

          So we're likely back to where we started.

          Yeah, because rendering the first Tomb rider in 4K would had been so hard ..

          Also most people use 1080p _NOW_, ten years ago maybe they used 1280x1024 or something.

          To work/complexity has increased a lot of course and will continue to do so with increasing capability for games.

          For desktop & even video work it likely haven't increased as fast as the capabilities of the cards.

          • Heh, I remember using 1280x1024 on my Ati Mach64 with a whopping 2mb of VRAM, back in 1995ish.
            • by aliquis ( 678370 )

              800x600 / 1024x768 / 1280x1024 and so on was the standards of the CRT era but the first LCD/TFT monitors ...

              Here's a TomÂs hardware article from 2004:
              http://www.tomshardware.com/re... [tomshardware.com]
              "Getting hold of a suitable TFT panel presents no difficulties, as we said before: an old 15.1" flatscreen monitor makes the ideal basis for building a powerful projector. Most displays offer a physical resolution of 1024x768 (i.e. 786,432) pixels, for playing back high-quality DVD videos or displaying the Windows screen.

    • It may be better than you think. Idle power draws are way down on most cards and they were not measured here. If it draws more power for the 8 hours a week you actually use it for gaming, but less power for the other 160 hours then you are probably going to come out ahead.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The old cards are completely choking for vram, so they are realistically idled waiting for texture data to swap in from system ram. Unfortunately the data just isn't that interesting, the way it was done.

  • unfortunately (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This article is not that interesting, primarily because they used high settings + 2560x1440 on old 256MB (!) cards, so most likely those cars are bottlenecked by gpu system ram texture swapping, showing lower performance and lower power reading than if more reasonable settings had been used. We're not seeing GPU power compared, but vram bottlenecks instead.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What, you actually expected something out of a Phoronix article?

      Hold my beer while I guffaw.

  • The main reason I've favored intel MBs recently is that they've opened sourced their graphics, which are good enough for me, so I don't have to worry about them. But then, I'm not a gamer. Are there folks out there who need the high end graphics stuff for something besides games?

    PS
    Just for the record, I have ways of wasting my time that may not be any better than playing games so I'm not going to adopt a 'holier than thou' attitude towards gamers. And even I may benefit from the gamer world because gami

    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      modern cad work
      video editing
      multihead displays
      simulators (and I dont mean flight sim)
      physics calculations
      3d rendering for art / film /tv etc

    • CAD, graphics rendering, super computer research applications

    • The video game industry is several times the size of the movie industry. You mention it as if its'a niche thing instead of being the ubiquitous activity it is in reality.
  • I could see that it was less than 2, but doing arbitrary roots in your head can be tricky.

    Wolfram Alpha [wolframalpha.com] is great when you're out and all's you got is your phone.

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