The standard graphical stack situation of linux it has taken a huge turn since the announcement of the AMDGPU driver in 2016. Since that year we have seen how it has evolved from being a simple desktop support to a solution capable of running next-generation triple-A Windows games.
Today the standard Linux graphics stack has two great supporters, Intel and AMD, although the latter still holds too many cards through its dual model with proprietary and Open Source aspects. NVIDIA, for its part, took an important step last spring, but insufficient seeing that what was released is not something functional on the desktop.
On the other hand, we have the return of Intel to the dedicated graphics sector two decades later. Unfortunately this second debut has been totally marred by very poor quality software which has been harshly criticized. What’s more, the only scenario in which they complied was the execution of OpenGL on Linux, a context in which they sometimes surpass the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, and that the Intel Arc A770 is supposed to have come to compete with the standard RTX 3060.
With Intel and Radeon getting into the dedicated graphics space, the standard Linux graphics stack is supposed to have some artillery to offer power on that front. Nevertheless, What is the current situation of each brand? That is the question that we are going to answer by taking, once again, the performance tests made by Phoronix with its own suite room of benchmarking. We advise that we are not going to take all the tests, but only those that we have seen most interesting and representative.
Intel Arc Vs AMD Radeon RX 6000 on Linux
In Phoronix they have compared the graphs Radeon RX 6500 XT, RX 6600, RX 6600 XT, RX 6700 XT, Intel Arc A750, and Intel Arc A770 on an ASUS PRIME Z790-P WIFI motherboard and an Intel Core i9-13900K processor. The software was a modified Ubuntu 21.10 with Linux 6.2-rc and Mesa 23.0.0-devel, so the graphics have worked on a support that is still under development. Since the Intel Arc A770 targets the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060, it should compete against the Radeon with the RX 6600 and RX 6600 XT.
First of all we have Counter-Strike: Global Offensive run with OpenGL. Here the RX 6600 beat out the Intel Arc, albeit relatively evenly at 1080p. At 1440p we see the Intel models start to sag a bit, mainly against the RX 6600 XT and RX 6700 XT.
The second game tested by Phoronix represents a huge technological leap as it is cyberpunk 2077, a titan who has had a hard time giving his best in various aspects. This title uses DirectX 12 as API, which on Linux is translated to Vulkan via VKD3D.
Here the Radeon graphics are clearly imposed thanks to a RADV driver (for Vulkan included in Mesa for Radeon) that is much more mature than an ANV (Vulkan driver included in Mesa for Intel) that still has a lot of work to do to even offer decent performance for Linux Gaming, and here we find ourselves, once again, with the mediocrity of Intel’s current software for its dedicated graphics.
The third game tested was DiRT Rally 2 and the result is more than surprising, since the Intel Arc A770 and Arc A750 graphics manage to outperform all Radeon models, including the RX 6700 XT. DiRT Rally 2 uses DirectX 11 as API, so on Linux it is translated to Vulkan with DXVK.
The next one was Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which holds the crown of being the most technically powerful native Linux title out there. Thanks to the efforts of Feral Interactive, the game works with Vulkan and at Phoronix they have made it work without antialiasing. Here we find a scenario similar to that of Cyberpunk 2077, but less exaggerated. Once again, ANV shows its obvious weakness against RADV in real scenarios.
And we jump to the synthetic tests with Gravity Mark 1.72, which was run to test Vulkan. Here the Intel Arc respond more or less by offering what is expected of them at the power level, but with a performance per watt that leaves something to be desired. In other words, Intel Arc graphics need more power consumption to offer the same performance.
With Unigine Heaven 4.0 and Unigine Superposition 1.0 We see how the Intel Arc improve presentations thanks to the use of OpenGL, especially as the graphic load increases.
We return to games with one of the most powerful exponents among those published as free software: Unanquished 0.53. The Intel Arc manage to take the absolute lead by running the title at 1440p and with ultra graphic effects. At 3,840×2,160 they falter a bit, but without giving a bad taste in the mouth.
And we close the list with Xonotic, another online shooter released as free software, running at 4K and in Ultimate graphics quality. With the OpenGL API, we see that the Intel Arc more or less complies, although they could possibly have stayed a little closer to the RX 6600 XT.
The results of these tests come to support what is being seen in Linux since the Intel Arc was launched on the market. For OpenGL they comply, but when you skip to Vulkan they tend to dissolve like a sugar cube against the competition.
After a disastrous release, Intel is currently working on a new graphics driver for Linux, Xe, which is intended for its dedicated and integrated Xe GPUs present in the latest generations of its processors. On the other hand, the company is also trying to improve ANV, its Vulkan driver present in Mesa, to make it more competent in running games and probably professional solutions in the future.
We end with the wish that Intel does not give up and remains in the dedicated graphics market, since competition is now more necessary than ever, seeing NVIDIA’s clear dominant position in the sector (yes, here we are also talking about Windows).