Phoronix: ION: Nouveau Competes With The NVIDIA R310 Driver
It's been quite a while since delivering any Linux graphics benchmarks of the NVIDIA ION, the platform for pairing integrated NVIDIA graphics with an Intel Atom processor for small form factor PCs. While NVIDIA's ION is basically defunct, for those still having a nettop or netbook that's ION-based, here's a performance comparison of the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics between the open-source Nouveau driver and the NVIDIA 310.xx binary Linux graphics driver.
You would probably need to mention that IGPs generally have less problems being clocked up to usable levels because the Nouveau driver does not need to set the memory clock (the GPU only uses system RAM and not its own memory). The memory clock seems to be the most problematic clock on most NVIDIA cards for the open-source developers, especially on 400 series and later.
Wow! Personally, I am very impressed at how close Nouveau has gotten on this particular hardware. I happen to have an ION machine, and use it every day. But I think you're leaving something important out: the best use for ION was HTPCs, thanks to VDPAU. That's why I still use my ION machine and haven't replaced it with a Sandy/Ivy Corei3 just yet. ;-) Alas, Nouveau doesn't do VDPAU.
I've heard of some people working the CPU harder, with things like mplayer-mt, but this happens to be a case where there's a definitely upper boundary on how much CPU you have, no matter how hard you work it.
Every once in a while I read (usually right here in Phoronix) about people trying to do video decoding using shaders, so that all Gallium3D drivers can do it; maybe not as well as the dedicated decoding hardware, but possibly good enough. Anyone tried that on ION?