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Ubuntu 19.04 Radeon Linux Gaming Performance: Popular Desktops Benchmarked, Wayland vs. X.Org

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Leading up to the Ubuntu 19.04 release, several premium supporters requested fresh results for seeing the X.Org vs. Wayland performance overhead for gaming, how GNOME Shell vs. KDE Plasma is performing for current AMD Linux gaming, and related desktop comparison graphics/gaming metrics. Here are such benchmarks run from the Ubuntu 19.04 "Disco Dingo" while benchmarking GNOME Shell both with X.Org and Wayland, Xfce, MATE, Budgie, KDE Plasma, LXQt, and Openbox.

Using a Radeon RX Vega 64 graphics card with the stock Ubuntu 19.04 components were used for this desktop graphics/gaming benchmark comparison. Ubuntu 19.04 ships with the Linux 5.0 kernel, Mesa 19.0.2, and X.Org Server 1.20.4 as the most prominent components for this comparison. GNOME Shell 3.32.0, Xfce 4.12, MATE 1.20.4, KDE Plasma 5.15.4, Budgie, LXQt 0.14.1, and Openbox 3.6.1 are the prominent desktop versions to report. KDE Plasma with Wayland wasn't tested since on this system I wasn't able to successfully start the session when selecting the Wayland version of Plasma from the log-in manager. The Radeon RX Vega 64 graphics card was running from the common Core i9 9900K used by many of our graphics tests with the ASUS PRIME Z390-A motherboard, 16GB of RAM, Samsung 970 EVO 256GB NVMe SSD, and a 4K display.

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Graphics: DRM-Next, Vulkan in Steam and GLAMOR

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  • More Icelake Graphics Fixes Are On The Way With The Linux 5.2 Kernel

    Intel's open-source developers sent in another pull request this morning to DRM-Next of additional feature material they are planning on having in the upcoming Linux 5.2 kernel.

    Already for this next kernel in previous pull requests they staged the Elkhart Lake graphics support, promoted Gen11 / Icelake out of being experimental graphics along with other Gen11 graphics fixes, and a variety of other fixes and low-level improvements.

  • Stable Steam Client Gets Vulkan Pipeline Collection, Better NTFS, Steam Play Fixes

    On Wednesday night Valve issued their latest stable Steam client update and carries much of the work we've seen out of their recent beta releases.

    This Steam client update is notable for Linux users in that Steam Play configuration settings are now exposed in Big Picture Mode, the important fix for 0-byte downloads / missing data files for Steam Play titles, Steam Overlay issues, automatic update issues with these titles relying upon Proton, and other Steam Play bugs.

  • GLAMOR Sees More Improvements For What Will Eventually Be X.Org Server 1.21

    We haven't been seeing as much GLAMOR activity these days but then again the pace of X.Org Server development has certainly slowed up in recent years. GLAMOR as a reminder allows for X.Org Server 2D acceleration to happen in a generic manner via OpenGL / GLES and has been a common area for improvement.

    There hasn't been much to report on GLAMOR's development in recent months with it generally working out well already on X.Org Server 1.20, at least for desktop systems with modern OpenGL drivers. Eric Anholt of Broadcom on Wednesday landed the latest GLAMOR code into X.Org Server Git.

Graphics: GLFW, OpenGL, Vulkan and Mesa

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  • GLFW 3.3 Adds Vulkan macOS Support Via MoltenVK, Better HiDPI & Scaling

    GLFW is the traditionally OpenGL library (now also encompassing the Vulkan graphics API) that offers a basic API for the creation of windows/contexts/surfaces across software platforms. GLFW works for both desktop and mobile, various devices, and works across all major operating systems while being under the liberal Zlib license. GLFW 3.3 is now available with some exciting enhancements.

  • Intel's New Iris Driver Gets Speed Boost From Changing The OpenGL Vendor String

    Following yesterday's Intel Iris vs. i965 OpenGL benchmarks against Windows 10, there is already an optimization out of our latest testing as a result.

    Iris driver lead developer Kenneth Graunke of Intel's Open-Source Technology Center landed a change in Mesa 19.1 today to really help out the performance in at least Valve's Portal game. In our benchmarks yesterday, Iris was coming in at 52 FPS to i965's 69 FPS and Windows 10 at 75 FPS. With the quick change in Mesa Git today, Ken finds on at least his system to get 1.8x better Portal performance where Iris equates to being 3.86% faster than the i965 driver.

  • CLVK Still Making Progress As Experimental OpenCL Over Vulkan

    We've seen many efforts like DXVK that are mapping Direct3D atop Vulkan, efforts like Zink in getting OpenGL over Vulkan, and less popular but still progressing is getting OpenCL -- at least a reasonable subset of it -- working under Vulkan. That's what the CLVK project is about and it's been making more progress since we last looked at it on Phoronix.


    Since last writing about CLVK, it's picked up support for Talvos as a Vulkan emulator/interpreter for handling SPIR-V modules on the CPU and thus allowing CLVK to operate without a Vulkan-enabled GPU.

  • Mesa 19.1 Likely To See Radeon "RADV" Vulkan FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync Support

    Mesa 19.1 is now even more exciting as RADV's co-lead, Bas Nieuwenhuizen has requested the Radeon Vulkan's FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync support be a blocker bug for this quarterly Mesa update.

    As explained last week, RADV's FreeSync support has been held up by lacking a configuration system to selectively enable the functionality when not dealing with any compositor, multimedia program, or other applications where this variable rate refresh technology could intefere and to only enable FreeSync/Adaptive-Sync for full-screen games. That's been the blocker while a patch has been available for flipping on VRR for RADV.

Vulkan 1.1.107 Released and Mesa 19.1.0 Has a Schedule

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  • Vulkan 1.1.107 Released With Support For Headless Surfaces

    Vulkan 1.1.107 is out today as the newest version of the Vulkan graphics/compute API.

    Vulkan 1.1.107 contains the usual work on different documentation clarifications/corrections while a new extension is VK_EXT_headless_surface, which was contributed by Arm.

  • Mesa 19.1.0 release plan
  • Mesa 19.1 Enters Feature Freeze In Two Weeks, Releasing Around 21 May

    Juan A. Suarez Romero of Igalia is serving as the release manager for Mesa 19.1 and sent out a reminder on Monday of the planned release schedule for this quarterly driver update.

    The release schedule calls for the feature freeze and initial release candidate to happen on 30 April. Following that will be weekly release candidates until the final release is ready. The hope is Mesa 19.1.0 can ship on 21 May, but as we've seen very frequently out of recent release cycles, there is often times release delays of days if not weeks. But long story short, Mesa 19.1.0 should be released around late May or early June.

The Current Intel "Iris" Gallium3D OpenGL Performance Against i965 Mesa, Windows 10 OpenGL

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It's been quite fascinating to watch the development of the Intel Iris Gallium3D driver that has now been in development by their open-source team for more than one year while back in February is where this currently experimental driver was merged into Mesa. It's been over one month since last looking at the Intel Iris Gallium3D performance relative to Intel's default "i965" Mesa OpenGL driver. Here are fresh benchmarks looking not only at their current and next-gen OpenGL Linux driver options but also how that performance compares to their current Windows 10 OpenGL driver.


The Iris Gallium3D driver is picking up more wins than in our previous rounds of testing for this experimental open-source OpenGL driver. Additionally, in cases where i965 is still delivering better performance is at least closer between these two Mesa drivers than we've seen in the past. So overall the performance is looking up for Iris but there is still more performance optimizations and maturing needed before we'll see Intel switch over the Linux OpenGL driver default. Nevertheless, it should be interesting to see how Iris matures this year as well as their ANV Vulkan driver. Stay tuned for more benchmarks when further Mesa Git commits warrant some additional tests.

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Graphics: Wayland, Nouvea and Unigine Superposition

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  • Wayland Has A Color Manager Calibration Protocol In The Works

    The latest Wayland protocol in the works is a color manager calibration protocol.

    This experimental protocol is designed to allow a compositor to calibrate a given output, an interface for a calibration/profiling application to send the needed colors to the display, an interface to inform the application of the display depth, setting a specific color on an output, loading an ICC profile for a compositor, and saving the last profile loaded.

  • Nouveau Developer Working On OpenGL Extension To Help With Reverse-Engineering

    Longtime open-source NVIDIA "Nouveau" driver developer Ilia Mirkin is drafting a new OpenGL extension proposal for helping out in driver reverse-engineering efforts.

    The proposed GL_MESA_debug_operations extension is about making it easier to insert arbitrary commands into existing shaders to better understand these operations in different combinations. This extension is designed to help reverse engineering activities like Nouveau as they try to understand NVIDIA's hardware behavior but could have use-cases by other reverse-engineered OpenGL drivers like Freedreno, Panfrost / Lima, Etnaviv, and others. It's also possible this could be used as a sorts of testing/fuzzing different shader operations/behavior.

  • Unigine Superposition 1.1 Adds Linux SteamVR Support, Up To 16K Rendering

    It's already been two years since Unigine Corp introduced their very fascinating Superposition graphics benchmark. Today they have rolled out Unigine Superposition 1.1 as the next installment of this demanding GPU benchmark to showcase the Unigine 2 engine's abilities.

    While most of you were probably hoping this Unigine benchmark update would bring Vulkan API support, sadly it does not. The Unigine 2 engine doesn't yet support Vulkan but the company is said to still be working on that support to complement OpenGL on Linux systems. Unigine Superposition 1.1 still relies upon OpenGL but with this release now supports up to 16K x 16K rendering.

NVIDIA EGLStreams Support Merged Into KWin For KDE Plasma 5.16

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Quite a surprise this Monday morning is finding that KDE's EGLStreams back-end for the KWin Wayland compositor has been merged! The KDE Plasma 5.16 release this summer will thus introduce support for running the KDE Plasma Wayland session with the proprietary NVIDIA Linux driver stack.

At the end of last year it was shared that NVIDIA was developing an EGLStreams back-end for KWin, similar to the efforts in getting EGLStreams support into GNOME's Mutter compositor. By late January is when the proof-of-concept code for KWin with EGLStreams entered review. Following months of review, the back-end has been merged into KWin Git.

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Also: [Krita] Interview with Missy

Graphics: Gallium3D and MoltenVK

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  • Broadcom's V3D Gallium3D Driver Nears Working Compute Shader Suppors /jh

    Broadcom's next-gen "V3D" driver (formerly known as VC5) being used by some newer Broadcom hardware but more coming down the pipeline in the future has nearly working compute shader support.

    We hope the next-gen Raspberry Pi will end up using a Broadcom SoC supporting V3D as besides much better OpenGL capabilities and performance, one of the advantages of V3D -- once the driver stack is in shape -- is compute support -- including ultimately OpenCL and Vulkan, but again more work needs to be done on the software side before that will be realized.

  • MoltenVK Now Supports Vulkan Tessellation On macOS, Other Features

    The crew working on the open-source MoltenVK layer that allows for Vulkan to run on macOS/iOS by remapping the calls to use Apple's Metal drivers just picked up a lot more capabilities.

    Headlining the new MoltenVK v1.0.34 release that was issued on Friday is support for tessellation. Vulkan tessellation support can now work on Macs! The new MoltenVK release also adds support for VK_KHR_get_surface_capabilities2 and VK_EXT_host_query_reset. On the extension front is also updated support for VK_KHR_swapchain.

The Current RADV/RadeonSI Performance With Mesa 19.1 + Linux 5.1

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Following this week's testing of the Radeon Linux gaming performance between Ubuntu 18.10 and 19.04, I also ran some benchmarks on the Ubuntu 19.04 when manually switching over to the bleeding-edge Mesa 19.1 RADV/RadeonSI drivers paired with the Linux 5.1 Git kernel. Is that worthwhile for "Disco Dingo" users to gain better AMD Linux gaming performance?

After finishing up the Ubuntu 19.04 benchmarks with its Linux 5.0 + Mesa 19.0 stack, I used the Oibaf PPA for Mesa 19.1-devel built against LLVM 8.0 and then also switched over to Linux 5.1 using the Ubuntu Mainline Kernel PPA. Sadly the Radeon VII graphics were still problematic at least for my card, but I figured it would be interesting to test with the other Polaris/Vega cards to see if those bleeding-edge drivers are worthwhile for those on Ubuntu 19.04 or other recent distros.

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  • AMDVLK 2019.Q2.1 Driver Has Some Performance Enhancement & Fixes

    MD has volleyed their latest AMDVLK open-source Vulkan driver code, their first publish push in more than two weeks, making it their first push of the new quarter.

    AMDVLK 2019.Q2.1 is the new release and it's been updated against the Vulkan 1.1.105 headers, allows shared memory to be CPU-visible, enables VK_EXT_memory_priority regardless whether it's supported by all external queues, and offers a performance optimization for Total War: WARHAMMER II.

  • AMD EPYC Is Running Well On Linux 5.1 Too - Performance Wins

    Last week I passed along some initial benchmark results after finding Intel Cascade Lake offering up some performance improvements when using the in-development Linux 5.1 kernel. The exciting news is this doesn't appear to be Cascadelake-specific or even Intel specific as with the Dell PowerEdge EPYC 2P server I am also seeing some nice performance improvements in the same benchmarks.

    I am still in the midst of conducting more Linux 5.1 kernel benchmarks albeit perpetually short on time but should have some additional Linux 5.1 data out next week. But in being curious whether Linux 5.1 is also looking up on AMD hardware, I ran some quick Linux 5.0.7 stable benchmarks against the latest Linux 5.1 Git kernel...

  • Radeon ROCm 2.3 Released With Many Improvements

    AMD today unexpectedly released Radeon Open Compute "ROCm" 2.3 as the newest feature release for this open-source Radeon GPU compute stack.

    ROCm 2.3 is a fairly hefty update and includes a lot of library improvements and other tooling enhancements for those using ROCm to provide GPU compute support on Linux systems. ROCm 2.3 offers per-GPU memory usage reporting via the rocm-smi utility, updated ONNX parser handling for MIVisionX, a new Python API and many other improvements to MIGraphX, multi-GPU support for Caffe2, Tensile optimizations for BLAS and other BLAS library improvements, and Int8 support for MIOpen.

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