Hello everyone. From the dawn of time, 'nix users have always advocated Nvidia graphics cards for 3d. I decided to see if that was still valid. For this reason, even for usage with my Windows boxen, I tended toward buying Nvidia cards. When ATI announced and started delivering on their promise of open specs, I decided to purchase the best ATI cards that I could find without any DRM. That last condition made it more difficult that it should've been. In the end, the highest end cards I ended up with were two x1950pro's with 512MB ram and no HDCP Now that the Phoronix Test Suite exists, I have an easy and standardized way of comparing hardware on Linux, and that is what I have done
Test: Since the best ATI card I have is an x1950pro, I needed to compare it to a similar card. My factory overclocked MSI 7900GS fit that bill.
MSI 7900GS Specs:
Model: NX7900GS T2D512E
Core Clock: 550MHz Stock 7900GS: 450MHz
Mem Clock: 700MHz Stock 7900GS: 660MHz
Mem Size: 512MB x 256bit
Jetway X1950PRO Specs:
Core Clock: 575MHz
Mem Clock: 690MHz
Mem Size: 512MB x 256bit
CPU: Intel E6600 @ 266 x 9
MOBO: ASUS P5N-E SLI
RAM: 2 x 1 GB Patriot DDR2 800 LLK @ 533 3-3-3-10-1T
HDD: PATA WD 80GB (big bottleneck here)
OS: Ubuntu 8.04 64-bit (see exact setup at bottom)
I ran this test to see how the drivers for both cards would affect system performance. They were equal
etqw-demo I ran the etqw tests without soft particles because it would crash that ATI system.
This was a BIG victory for the x1950pro
This one was closer
glmark6 (These glmark tests look the same, but I'm including it anyway )
Small victory for 7900GS
Very close, but ATI leads
I don't even think the x1950pro showed up
Apart from the x11perf result, fans of both sides can feel good about these results. Back in the day, ATI was downright terrible, but now they are beating NV in some of the tests. NV has always been the best and while they still are for the most part, they have some competition now Since ATI has promised specs and started delivering on them, they are the clear choice if you want an awesome Linux system...in the future. Even though ATI is including DRM with their products (bad Vista, bad), I still intend to buy a 4870 1GB for my next system. While the introduction of DRM is a big step back, sharing the specs of their cards is a big step forward and that should mean a lot when you are shopping for a new gfx card. Hopefully when non-M$ users make up more of AMD/ATI's customer base, they can make the DRM optional (or when Intel's Larrabe wipes the floor with their cards and they need to compete on every level just to survive ).
I am putting the software setup at the bottom because it is fairly long. I used the Ubuntu 8.04 AMD-64 Alternate CD for the OS installs. The drivers I manually installed were 8.5 for ATI and 173.14.09 for Nvidia. The ATI test was run first which is why their latest driver wasn't used. I also ran the ATI tests with the 1.01 version of PTS which is why some of the newer tests weren't included.
Code:Install from Alternate CD -> 1 GB Swap Install updates Remove Evolution/help from panel, add Terminal and Sys Monitor Set vm.swappiness=0 in /etc/sysctl.conf Enable Menu Editor in Other Tree, Enable Config Editor in Sys Tools Tree, Enable Control Center in System menu and Preferences Tree Turn off Mouse Acceleration in Config Editor Disable Bluetooth Support Set Monitor to never turn off, disable suspend button, turn off sound notifications in Power Management Disable Automatic Import from Digi Cam in Rem. Dr. and Media Set Refresh to 75 in Screen Res Disable Screensaver Disable Indexing Turn off Bluetooth, HW Drivers, Evo Al Not, Print Queue, Tracker, Tracker Applet, Update Notifier, User Folders Update, and Visual Assistance from Sessions Turn off System Sounds, Log in/out sounds, and system beep in Sounds Disable Bluetooth, CPU Freq, Printer service in Services Enable Backports, Disable Update check, set release upgrade to normal in Software Sources Set Delete downloaded packages after installation and delete cached packages in Synaptic Prefs Disable "quiet splash" in /boot/grub/menu.lst RESTART Configure FF Install sysv-rc-conf In sysv-rc-conf disable bluetooth, cupsys, laptop-mode, powernowd, rsync, usplash RESTART NVIDIA: Install build-essential, kernel source, nvidia-xconfig, ia32-libs Completely remove nvidia-kernel-common Press Ctrl-Alt-F2, login, cd /etc/init.d/, sudo killall gdm, sh NVIDIAwhatever.run, add "Option "NoPowerConnectorCheck" "true"" to xorg.conf if needed, startx ATI: Install linux-source, build-essential, fakeroot, dh-make, debhelper, debconf, libstdc++5, dkms, ia32-libs Install ATI Driver, hope for the best :) RESTART Squirm in agony and do aticonfig --install -f End specifics Disable Compiz Install + Patch PTS for etqw soft particles RESTART ATI: Set higest quality settings in driver NVIDIA: Set Image Settings to High Quality, Texture Sharpening, Option "Coolbits" "1" Benchmarks: nexuiz openarena etqw-demo No soft particles doom3 quake4 glmark - vertex array, glsl per-pixel lighting gtkperf - combobox, drawing pixbufs, radiobutton x11perf - 500px compositing from pixmap to window etqw No soft particles specviewperf9 - 3dsmax xplane9