Linux Gamers Should Stick With Mesa’s RADV Drivers For RDNA 2 GPUs As It Outperforms AMD’s Official AMDVLK Vulkan Driver

Last week, AMDVLK 2022.Q2.3 was unleashed as an update to the official AMD open-source Vulkan Linux driver, which showcased notable graphical performance improvements on RDNA 2 GPUs.

The Mesa RADV Linux driver outperforms the official AMD AMDVLK Linux driver for RDNA 2-based GPUs

Due to this release, Michael Larabel from Phoronix felt that updated benchmarks were necessary, posing the update against the Mesa Project's RADV Vulkan driver. Larabel showcased the results on his website, utilizing an AMD RDNA 2 GPU to see the differences between the drivers.

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As a reminder to our readers, RADV, or Radeon Vulkan graphics driver, was developed by community engineers from Google, Red Hat, and other contributors working within the Linux platform. The driver is, by far, the go-to choice for users of AMD graphics cards utilizing them in Linux. With the amount of backing from some of those top names, it sees plenty of updates and improvements that affect all aspects, including performance. With the Mesa Project's RADV driver, every primary Linux distribution channel sees it, unlike the AMD-backed AMDVLK, which does not see as much steam as the former.

Source: Phoronix

Regardless, AMD updates the AMDVLK code as part of their official Linux updates, based on the same source code for the Windows and Linux proprietary Vulkan driver. The only downfall to utilizing the source is that the LLVM AMDGPU shader compiler that the company uses instead of their proprietary shader has missing areas to the support, such as Vulkan ray-tracing.

When Larabel d both the current RADV and AMDVLK 2022.Q2.3 open-source graphics compilers, he incorporated an AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT GPU while using the Ubuntu 22.04 OS and an Intel Core i9-12900K CPU. The compiler he used was Mesa 22.0.1 (shipped with Ubuntu 22.04 LTS) and the AMDVLK 2022.Q3.3 driver using official AMD binaries recently released.

Readers should note that "no Radeon Software for Linux proprietary Vulkan driver testing was conducted ... with AMD having yet to release a driver with official support for Ubuntu 22.04 LTS," states Larabel in his article.

Below are screenshots of all tests compiled by the website Phoronix and some takeaways from the testing.

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  • GravityMark from Tellusim tests: A demanding Vulkan benchmark, GravityMark supports Vulkan ray-tracing, but only the standard Vulkan render path was benchmarked. A slight improvement was seen with RADV at lower resolutions.
  • DIRT Rally 2.0 benchmark: With Steam Play with DXVK, better performance on RADV was seen over AMDVLK, even when utilizing the Mesa 22.0.1 release packaged with Ubuntu 22.04 LTS.
  • F1 2021: Steam Play improved performance uplift when transitioning from Mesa 22.0 to 22.2-dev from the Oibaf PPA. AMDVLK tests were not successful in this benchmark testing.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight: The Mesa RADV driver showed improvement over AMDVLK.
  • Civilization VI: AMDVLK produced better results than Mesa 22.2-dev and Mesa 22.0.1.
  • HITMAN 2: AMDVLK issued almost identical frame rates with Mesa 22.0, while the Mesa 22.2-dev was limited in comparison.
  • HITMAN 3: RADV outperformed AMDVLK.
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider: A native Linux port by Feral Interactive shows comparable RADV performance against AMDVLK Vulkan driver performance.
  • Strange Brigade: A minor lead was shown with AMDVLK in some settings, but primarily similar performance between both Radeon Vulkan drivers.
  • Total War: Three Kingdoms: Small Performance increase from RADV over AMDVLK.
  • Total War: WARHAMMER III: A new native Linux game release, ported over by Feral Interactive, showed improved performance with the native Linux and Vulkan build over the Mesa RADV compared to AMDVLK.
  • yquake2 8.10: RADV outperformed AMDVLK.
  • X-Plane 11 RADV maintained a small performance leap over AMDVLK.

After testing, the Mesa RADV driver consistently grows and maintains a healthy lead over the open-source AMD Radeon Vulkan driver. Hopefully, we will see improved performance in the RADV department upon releasing the new RDNA 3 architecture later this year.

News Source: Phoronix

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