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ATI Radeon/Voodoo2 OpenGL Benchmarks

BeOS vs. Windows98 again! Who's faster?

By Eugenia Loli - Monday, October 16th at 4:50am
 

ATI Radeon


As promised, we're here with the second part of a series of OpenGL benchmark analyses. We've tested BeOS 5 against Windows98 using Quake2's Timedemo1 and the Crusher levels with an AGP ATI Radeon 64 MB DDR card. Let's see how BeOS' beta OpenGL drivers perform against the released Windows98 drivers. You'll also find a mini-benchmark with the 3Dfx Voodoo2. Update: Click More and scroll down for the update.

If you need an introduction to the ATI Radeon, this article should answer most of your questions about the hardware itself.

First, a note. I used a beta BeOS kernel provided by Be, which allows better use of mtrr (enables Write Posting, Banked VGA Write Combining (VGAWC), Linear Frame Buffer Write Combining). This version allowed R. Jason Sams to use the MTRR registers to set up more efficient DMA operations from system memory. In plain English, all processors since the Pentium Pro have disabled some features which disallow graphics cards (PCI or AGP) from transferring data faster than ~35 MB/sec. Fortunately, it is possible to re-enable this support via mtrr. When this is done, the sky is the limit (or, rather the hardware/AGP clock combination is the limit :). Some of you may remember a utility called FastVid. When used under MS-DOS in the pre-DirectX5 days, FastVid enables these features. After the DX5 days, all 2D/3D drivers are coming with mtrr enabled under Windows.

If you would like to measure your graphics card's raw throughput (Video Memory Write & Transfer), I highly recommend Membench from Intelligent Firmware. Run Membench in Real Mode under DOS, with and without FastVid installed, to see what mtrr can really do. Make sure you are under Real DOS Mode though, or your PC will either crash or you will get inaccurate results. If you don't know what Real Mode is, Membench is probably not for you.

Another note: There is no AGP support under BeOS. BeOS sees an AGP card as a PCI card (in fact, AGP is nothing more than a significantly faster, "mutated" PCI). Linux got their support through a kernel module called " agpgart", from Precision Insight (shipped standard in kernel 2.4, or you can compile it yourself if you use another kernel version). AGP support in BeOS also requires a driver (and potentially some kernel tweaks).

Not having AGP means that even if you have an AGP video card, it will be limited to 2x133 MB/sec transfers (AGP is 66Mhz as opposed to the 33 Mhz PCI one - also, those numbers presented are the theoretical maximum). Compared with the ~200-266 MB/sec of AGP 1x, and the 1 GB/sec of AGP 4x, this seems like a weakness. In other words, until AGP support is added to BeOS, you won't get the performance the graphics card is actually able to deliver. On a game which uses lots of textures (eg. ST:Elite Force or Halo), BeOS won't be able to keep up with competitors like Linux or Windows. The framerate will drop (especially at high resolutions). However, under BeOS we currently have only GLQuake and Quake2, which are somewhat old and don't require more than ~60 MB/sec anyways.

On the 2D front, the driver works fine, but Jason has disabled the BWindowScreen function on the Radeon, as it doesn't make sense to use this function when you have hardware OpenGL support for that card. Therefore, I was not able to use a number of screensavers and 2D games with the ATI Radeon. Developers should be using either GL or DrawBitmap for their apps instead of BWindowScreen (and BDirectWindow).

Enough with the talking, on to the benchmarks. We haven't included Linux in our tests, as the Radeon driver for Linux won't be ready until sometime in November.

Quake2 Fullscreen Timedemo1
  Windows98 BeOS R5.0.1
640x480 88.1 117.1
800x600 87.7 110.2
1024x768 72.2 92.9
1280x1024 43.4 w 66.7

Quake2 Window Timedemo1
Desktop set to 1280x1024x16-bitx85Hz
  Windows98 BeOS R5.0.1
640x480 80.8 116.8
800x600 72.3 107.1
1024x768 48.5 90.1
1280x1024 25.5 63.1

Quake2 Fullscreen Crusher
  Windows98 BeOS R5.0.1
640x480 46.2 51.3
800x600 45.3 48.2
1024x768 44.5 41.2
1280x1024 37.6 w 35.8

Now for the overall results, based on all three tests.

BeOS Vs Windows - Overall Results

As you can see, ATI performs very well under BeOS. In fact, it performs exceptionally well, despite the lack of AGP support and the fact that the beta mtrr kernel we received had its own bugs...

This article is not a plug for ATI's products. However, there's no denying that the Radeon is the card to buy for BeOS. It beats Windows hands down. Moreover, I didn't even use an SSE CPU (P3, P4, Celeron 2), where BeOS and its OpenGL implementation performs even better thanks to specific SSE optimizations.
Update: (ATI Radeon driver doesn't support HyperZ and tripple texturing (GL API issue) under BeOS yet. With those two features enabled, the gap with Windows will be even bigger with BeOS taking a much more clearer lead.)

Looking for a piece of friendly advice? If you're looking for OpenGL perfomance, get an ATI Radeon and a P3 for Christmas instead of that big fat turkey. Who knows, OpenGL may be released in time for you to enjoy it over the holidays!

Conclusion
For:
* Very good all around performance
* Exceptionally good windowed performance
* Painless installation
* Leading performance on an SSE CPU

Against:
* No AGP support (yet)
* No AMD 3DNow! optimizations
* No 1600x1200 3D rendering



Page Index
1: ATI Radeon
2: Voodoo2



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