I can't see where the optimized open source driver is trying to compete with the catalyst. The binary blob is still miles ahead.
Video acceleration is also still a problem with the open source drivers. If at least that would work, the open source driver would be suitable for HTPCs. In the current state however it is pretty much useless, except for desktop effects.
It's not the drivers but the hardware.
Intel has the best video acceleration around in their open source driver.
I'm sure Bridgman could better explain (and for that matter, I'm sure this has already been answered many times), but I think there is better decoupling of the decode/encode and DRM in Intel than AMD.
Actually 4 developers, a fraction of a manager and no lawyers but don't let me slow you down
IIRC the main differences between radeon and nouveau in terms of performance progress are :
1. the NVidia hardware equivalent of two performance improving features (what we call tiling and HyperZ) are implemented in such a way that "turning them on" requires less driver work than doing the same on ATI/AMD hardware. Jerome and others been making great progress here recently.
2. the VLIW shader core probably requires relatively more shader compiler effort to get to comparable levels of HW utilization. I'm not sure this is an issue but we should know more once the SI open source driver starts to run beneficially.
If that is the case, who does all that legal review stuff?
Looking at these tests, I really wonder what effect changing the screen resolution would have on some of these tests. It is a fairly common trick for gamers unsatisfied with their performance to lower the screen resolution of the game to attempt to compensate for slower hardware, and not everyone has huge screens. My games are only going to be played at a maximum of 1280x1024 anyway, not to mention the existence of certain popular widescreen displays with small vertical resolutions.
I understand that 1920x1080 can be considered your maximum default, but an article exploring this would be valuable in my opinion.