Our New Benchmark: FrameGetter

OK, FrameGetter is not the best name for a benchmarking utility - but we are engineers and computer scientists, not marketing geniuses. Last week, we took some time to introduce everyone to our new Linux GPU benchmark. Fortunately, it was received with incredible success - both by our industry peers and our readers. You can read more of the program specifications as described by the lead developer, Wiktor Kopec, here. Just to recap, here is how the program works again:
  • We install a few libraries in the lib directory that are passed data from each game.
  • A shell program in the FG suite copies and modifies the game executables. All references to libGL and libSDL in the copy are replaced with our library installed in the first step.
  • The modified game executable runs while happily sending data to our libraries. Our libraries look for swap while dumping the input occasionally to the /tmp directory.
  • Frames per second and time are written to the screen on some games.
  • The frames per second are written into /tmp/fg_logfile.
  • A batch program included in the suite converts the FG screenshots into PNG files.
Obviously, there is a lot of room for improvement here. We made our program open source with the intention of allowing anyone to modify and edit the program to suit to their liking. Some of the additions that we are working on include dumping the screenshots in a readable bitmap format and binding keys to start/stop frame capture. Be warned that capturing a program with the FG modified executable on a 1280x1024 resolution consumes approximately 30GB/hour. Converting to PNG during capture consumes too much CPU usage, so we have not done that yet.

Here, you can download version 0.1.0 of the AnandTech FrameGetter source and executables. Please read the documentation very carefully. FrameGetter uses a BSD style license. Even though FrameGetter is geared toward GPU benchmarking, it can provide excellent information for CPU benchmarking as well. Using the same video card, but different CPU configurations, has a lot of outcome on the frame rate. Different branching and prediction show different results from card to card - we will be using this in some upcoming Linux CPU tests.

Index Let's talk about Drivers


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  • TheWounded - Monday, November 1, 2004 - link

    Its a nice test but i would have loved to see how the XGI volari cards would have done.
    I'm interested if the volari's could be a good choice for linux gamers. But unfortunatly there are no linux benchmarks involving the volaris.
  • henca - Thursday, October 7, 2004 - link

    This was a very nice comparision of mid- and high-end cards. It would be interesting to also see a comparision with low-end cards like Matrox G550, Intel Extreme graphics and the Radeon 9200 family.

    The good news about these cards is that they are all supported by the opensource DRI drivers. An up-to-date Linux distribution should support them out of the box without having to download and install any binary drivers.
  • MNKyDeth - Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - link

    I am a Linux gamer only so a benchmark comparison like this is great. I really enjoyed reading it. But, imo, there was a lack of games included in the benchmark roundup. I would like to see Savage, NWN, and either quake3 or Heretic 2 shown aswell.

    I also do not like the showing of wineX (Cedega) benchmarks as it defeats the purpose the gaming on linux. The only way I could recomend anyone to use wineX (Cedega) is if they don't own a copy of windows. If you do own a copy of windows do not use wineX for pete's sake, just dual boot, it is the better emulator after all.
  • jerrysiebe - Tuesday, October 5, 2004 - link

    For anisotropic filtering, I did a strings search in libGL and came up with something.

    >strings /usr/lib/libGL.so | grep ANISO

    Setting that, I can see a visible difference and get a FPS hit, so I believe it works. On my GF4 4200, I can set __GL_LOG_MAX_ANISO to 1, 2, and 4 and see the difference. Set to anything else I get no anisotropic filtering.
  • Thetargos - Monday, October 4, 2004 - link

    Excellent article, just a comment on the NVIDIA uninstaller... it plainly doesn't work as it should. The prlblem is that it substitutes (like the ATi driver) some libraries in the system, but unlike ATi's driver, NVIDIA's driver also makes a change in one library used for the Direct Redering Infrastructure, libdri.a specifically. So uninstalling the drivers with NVIDIA's uninstaller this won't be reverted (re-install of the XFree86 package or Xorg package is required, note only the core package is need).
    In favor of ATi's driver, the uninstallation is much easier and the system is restored to its previous stage, restoring the backup copy of libGL.so.1.2 that is the only system library it overwrites.
  • plamalice - Monday, October 4, 2004 - link

    The Nvidia AGPgart driver is causing problems with ATI cards (perhaps other non-nVidia card as well) on both Win and Linux when used on an nForce based mobo (of course). Nforce3 (150, pro150) have both caused me problems when using an ATI card until the gart driver was uninstalled.

    A poor attempt by nVidia to make ATI card appear unstable ? :P

    Anyways, if you have an nForce-based motherboard and an ATI gfx card, do not use nvidia's gart driver.
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, October 4, 2004 - link

    directedition: i just symlink /mnt/cdrom to /media/dvdrecorder

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  • mczak - Monday, October 4, 2004 - link

    "Keep in mind that we even run SuSE, a RPM derivative - not too different from Red Hat."
    That really doesn't make sense. RPM is just the package manager! If a dos version which uses rpm would exist, would you say that it is "not too different" too?

    "Below, you can see a screen grab from our ATI frame buffer playing Unreal Tournament at 800x600. The image should not be surrounded by a black border, but rather, stretched to the limits of the screen."
    This looks to me like you did not have configured 800x600 resolution in the Xfree config file (Sax2 will happily do that) - you cannot switch to fullscreen resolutions not configured usually with XFree/Xorg (though maybe the nvidia driver doesn't care).

    btw about aniso not working: I guess you could do that quite easily with framegetter? Just intercept the filter setting calls and replace them?

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