AMD Just Squeezed More Workstation Performance Out Of Its RadeonSI Driver
Written by Michael Larabel in Radeon on 10 September 2021 at 03:00 AM EDT. 21 Comments
RADEON --
While Vulkan is quickly taking over as the dominant graphics API for Linux gamers especially with the likes of DXVK and VKD3D-Proton mapping Direct3D atop Vulkan, OpenGL remains widely used by workstation software. It's also for workstation software where AMD's "PRO" closed-source OpenGL Linux driver has traditionally competed well (and outperformed) the open-source Mesa driver. But with all the recent changes, that's either a matter of the past or close to not being relevant with the latest Mesa enhancements.

As reported a number of times over the past year, AMD's OpenGL Mesa developers have been working heavily on squeezing the last performance optimizations for workstation software -- particularly as measured by the relevant SPECViewPerf benchmark.

Last month the gap was incredibly thin at ~2% for RadeonSI against the PRO driver for at least Siemens NX. That was the RadeonSI state with patches worked on by Marek Olšák.

Being merged on Thursday was a new patch series by AMD's Pierre-Eric Pelloux-Prayer. That newest patch series is a clean-up of the VBO display list code with more CPU optimizations and clean-ups. The patch series ends up causing less draw calls, less driver code, and improving the performance -- by around 10% for SPECViewPerf's Siemens NX test case. A 10% performance boost for this merge request that has 379 lines of new code while removing 461 lines.

This RadeonSI improvement is in Mesa Git now for Mesa 21.3 due out next quarter. It will be interesting to see with this landing and any other code still to land for v21.3 if RadeonSI will now firmly cross into the territory of being faster than AMDGPU-PRO OpenGL for workstation use-cases. Though as AMD still has to maintain their Windows OpenGL driver for which their closed-source "PRO" Linux driver shares code, it's unlikely AMD would discontinue that PRO driver offering in the near term and not wanting to disrupt the workflow or risk regressions for any of their big ticket workstation customers.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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