Thursday, August 2nd 2012

L4D2 Runs Faster on Linux than Windows

Valve's hit online multiplayer game, Left 4 Dead 2, which was recently ported to Ubuntu along with the Steam client, is found to play faster on the platform than even Windows. The game generates higher frame-rates on Ubuntu with the new OpenGL renderer for Source engine than the Direct3D renderer it uses on Windows.

The disclosure comes as part of Valve's ongoing efforts to optimize the Source engine to the Linux platform, following which, it plans to port more of its game franchises, such as Half Life, Counter Strike, Team Fortress, and Portal. The games will be available on Ubuntu with SteamPlay, allowing users who already own a license for the Windows or Mac OS X versions to simply download and play the game on Ubuntu, without any purchases.Source: Phoronix
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107 Comments on L4D2 Runs Faster on Linux than Windows

#1
Fourstaff
by: RejZoR
I find it strange that Source Engine hasn't evolved further.
Choosing between improving the engine's graphics/physics or optimising the engine, Valve chose the latter. With a good reason too, since that a mobile HD3000 can just about play Dota 2/TF2/HL2/Portal 2, and the newly enriched masses with poor systems can hop abroad with minimal investment to game hardware. The most commonly played games are not very hardware intensive, from Starcraft 2 to Moba games (LoL, Dota 2, etc) to Counter Strike. Battlefield and a few others stand out as counterexamples though.
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#2
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
Well, you have to be careful when comparing Windows to Ubuntu (linux is too generic of a term for what we're talking about.) The Linux kernel has always been better at SMP scheduling than Windows has. How efficient that the Linux kernel is could result in better performance. The two systems were also developed with two very different principles, so even where Ubuntu might lack in OpenGL performance, drivers, or application support, you will be hard pressed to find situations where Windows would make a faster and more stable server than Ubuntu or even another linux distro.

So just keep in mind that OpenGL vs DirectX isn't the only thing that is going on here. There are differences in how the two systems work at a very low level that can impact performance and I wouldn't be surprised if it came down to scheduler efficiency. I would be interested to see how it would run with a bulldozer cpu on Linux vs Windows. If there is a sizable boost over the Intel setup, it could be attributed to how often Windows moves processes from one core to another, which takes time to do, time that your application isn't running.
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#3
Kreij
Senior Monkey Moderator
From the Valve Linux blog ...
This experience lead to the question: why does an OpenGL version of our game run faster than Direct3D on Windows 7? It appears that it’s not related to multitasking overhead. We have been doing some fairly close analysis and it comes down to a few additional microseconds overhead per batch in Direct3D which does not affect OpenGL on Windows. Now that we know the hardware is capable of more performance, we will go back and figure out how to mitigate this effect under Direct3D.
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#4
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
So they're going to investigate how to make it go faster on Direct3D, good on them. I still wish they gave us version numbers. Direct3D 9 has overhead not present in Direct3D 10 and 11. L4D could probably benefit from tesselation which is also absent in Direct3D 9 and 10.
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#5
RejZoR
Basically what they are saying is that old engine on Windows is rubbish and that newly written OpenGL one for Linux is so much better. And now they'll rewrite it for Windows. Probably.
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#6
Mistral
Not that it's really needed with the framerates we already get, but if now they write a new DX rendered too and compare again, then it'll mean something.
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#7
Mussels
Moderprator
by: BazookaJoe
It's been a long known "thing" that the new windows versions are measurably slower than even previous windows'es.

Its sad really that My machine scores nearly 2000 points extra on 3Dmark06 in a WinXP boot than it does in Win7.
that alone asys it all. 3dmark 06.


its like complaining that your new windows 8 machine loads minesweeper too slow. the fact that a 5 year old benchmark runs slower on a new OS should mean nothing, because the benchmark was DESIGNED FOR THAT OS.
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#8
Prima.Vera
OpenGL was ALWAYS faster than DirectX. That's why ALL professional design, rendering or animation software are using OpenGL.
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#9
Iciclebar
Realistically this isn't so much about the "omg framerates!" for me as it is about barrier to entry. LfD2 runs nicely on lower end hardware like an AMD e-350 and it also ran on my asus N10J (intel atom 230 w/ nvidia 9300gs if overclocked)

If you can squeeze more performance out of the same hardware what else can they make a gaming capable machine that previously was not thought of as such.
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#10
Steevo
Annnnnnddddd the LOD with windows based driver optimizations unavailable in Linux?

reinvent the wheel, proclaim it as new. Sounds like Apple.
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#11
TheMailMan78
Big Member
by: Steevo
Annnnnnddddd the LOD with windows based driver optimizations unavailable in Linux?

reinvent the wheel, proclaim it as new. Sounds like Apple.
That and its not like he hasnt been hyping Linux for a month or so now......Steambox promotion? Naaaaaaaaa.
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#12
Mescalamba
So many idiots writing comments.

One of main reasons to use Windows is games. If this reason disappear, why would I use Windows?

Means you dont need to buy OS.. Just games. This is absolutely way to go and Im glad Valve at least starts to do something with it. Now it just needs others to join. If for example Blizzard-Activision joined it could have quite interesting impact as theres quite a bit of ppl playing their games.
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#13
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
by: Prima.Vera
OpenGL was ALWAYS faster than DirectX. That's why ALL professional design, rendering or animation software are using OpenGL.
DirectX has a singular objective which is to run games. OpenGL doesn't have a singular objective in mind so it is more flexible.


by: Mescalamba
One of main reasons to use Windows is games. If this reason disappear, why would I use Windows?
Hardware support.
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#14
Mescalamba
by: FordGT90Concept
DirectX has a singular objective which is to run games. OpenGL doesn't have a singular objective in mind so it is more flexible.



Hardware support.
Really? As far as I know there are drivers from both ATi and nVidia for some time. Only issue with HW I had was long time ago when I couldnt manage to get drivers for USB modem. Tho fact is that Win drivers werent better, always shutting down, connection problems etc. Solution was obviously to switch modem. Since then I can run Linux distro, MAC OS and Win 7 without problems.
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#15
TheMailMan78
Big Member
by: Mescalamba
Really? As far as I know there are drivers from both ATi and nVidia for some time. Only issue with HW I had was long time ago when I couldnt manage to get drivers for USB modem. Tho fact is that Win drivers werent better, always shutting down, connection problems etc. Solution was obviously to switch modem. Since then I can run Linux distro, MAC OS and Win 7 without problems.
NVIDIA drivers suck for Linux. I mean they really, REALLY F#$KING SUCK.
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#16
VulkanBros
by: TheMailMan78
NVIDIA drivers suck for Linux. I mean they really, REALLY F#$KING SUCK.
You are right - that´s one of the reasons I stayed with ATI/AMD - not that they did´nt have issues tho!
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#17
Mussels
Moderprator
its not just video cards. its networking, mice/keyboards, audio, and game controllers (such as steering wheels, gamepads, joysticks, etc)


and once people use it as a primary OS, then the printers, scanners, faxes, mobile phones, filthy apple products and so on all need to get working as well.


do i support linux? sure. but its not going to be a quick fix of "yay valve games work on linux" and its suddenly a viable OS for the masses.
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#18
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
They already ported the game to Mac OS X (the Direct3D to OpenGL conversion). What they had to do to make the game work on Ubuntu was trivial compared to that. The same goes for Steam. Steam was probably actually harder to convert because of install/uninstall routines and file system differences.
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#19
Red_Machine
by: FYFI13
Tell me the same in few years, once Microsoft drops Windows 7 support. Ballmer will destroy Microsoft, he's evil sent from Apple :fear:
Ballmer is evil sent from Apple?

HE HELPED BUILD THE DAMN COMPANY BEFORE APPLE RATED A BLIP ON THE RADAR!
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#20
johnnyfiive
by: BazookaJoe
It's been a long known "thing" that the new windows versions are measurably slower than even previous windows'es.

Its sad really that My machine scores nearly 2000 points extra on 3Dmark06 in a WinXP boot than it does in Win7.

Newer versions of windows don't really give a shit if your perfectly standard sound card works or not anymore or where your GPU juice goes - its FAAR FAR FAR more important that your title bar is transparent so you can barely tell one window from the other, that your mouse has shadows, and that EVERYTHING slides around and wooshes in and out like you just bounced a bag of spoiled weed

But that's the world we live in, Fluff & Front End are way more important than form and function anymore, It needs to sparkle and twinkle and whirrrrrl and whizz to hold the 20 second attention span of the new ADD Justin Beiber generation, just look at that cross-eyed inbred hill-billy 8 year old child's interface "Metro" for gods sake. ITS A COMPUTER NOT A FUNKING CELL PHONE!

Its as tho they just don't want us using computers at all anymore.

But that's off topic, so let's just not go there, I guess WELL DONE to Valve - I can see Linux definitely becoming a more and more viable OS for me as I am one of those lost forgotten cave people who actually USE A COMPUTER AND RUN PROGRAMS AND WORK WITH FILES, and that is simply not what the future of Windows is about anymore apparently.

The ONLY thing that has really kept me away from Linux is its overall terrible gaming support track record, but this article just proves what a rapidly evolving landscape that is, and clearly I need to start paying closer attention.
  • You're completely disregarding the selling points of an operating system. If form and function were the only thing that mattered in the operating system industry, we'd still be using Windows 3.1 because that did everything in its day perfectly fine. Point being, times are changing, GUIs get stale and consumers notice, so company's change the GUI and add features. They focus on whats important to consumers, not the nerdy gamer who only cares about frame rates and nothing else. If there wasn't Vista and Windows 7, we wouldn't be gaming in DX10 and DX11. You should be happy we have the aero GUI and snap windows, because along with that came DX10 and DX11. You mention you get more points in 3DMark in XP than you do in 7? Are you breaking 3DMark records for a living (lol)? Do you honestly like having to install misc. drivers after installing Windows XP (because XP doesn't have a generic driver)? The best thing about Windows 7 is that it works on basically anything. P4's can run 7, and it will install basically every driver on that archaic P4 board.

    Windows 7 is awesome. It's great that 3DMark 06 (06?!) scores higher in Windows XP, it should, its from 2006 whereas Windows 7 is from 2009.


  • The only thing keeping you from Linux as your main OS is gaming? Really?
    So you're saying your fine with changing shells, writing scripts/misc code, compiling, and making your own installs for basic applications? You'd rather do that then double click an executable or drag an icon to an applications container? (OSX). My point again, the general consumer. Linux savvy people may be fine using Linux for everything, but the general user isn't. They need MS Office, Open Office & Libre Office won't cut it. They need Visual Studio, they need XCode, they can't compile code in python or c++ and have no desire to. They want to sit down, run an installer, and click play. It's the same reason why console gaming is far surpassing PC gaming... the general consumer prefers the console. Why? It's dummy proof.
  • If you don't want a flashy GUI, want DX11+, and fast performance, you're answer is Windows 8. Like it or not, Windows 8 is where the future is for Windows. Many people hate it but really don't understand the purpose of it. It's not Windows 7, it doesn't have a Start menu, it WILL have Metro, and its Microsoft's future. Download the preview, give it a try, and in due time vendors will straggle along because they simply have to if they want to progress. Drivers will come, features will become useful, etc.
  • L4D2 runs faster in linux than Windows, yeah, in crappy OpenGL. How about some screenshot comparisons between the two? How about we max all the graphic features in the Linux version and Windows version.... you'll see exactly why it runs faster in Linux, because it looks like garbage in comparison due to OpenGL limitations.

    There is a HUGE reason why DirectX is the API developers choose to develop for. It's awesome and its native to Windows, which just happens to be THE best gaming OS.
When Steam starts releasing more games and stats showing a significant % of Linux gamers (on Steam), only then will we really see vendor support. Nvidia will chime in and hopefully ATI will finally release a driver for Linux that doesn't seem like its from 1998. Then, and only then, will we see an increase in Linux gaming. Gaming devs follow money, pc gaming money belongs to Windows. Following that is graphics vendors, along with timely driver updates to support these new upcoming games. When Linux gets enough gaming market share, we will see some big advances. Steam is certainly the pioneer, they see a future in it. I however don't. OpenGL (even if it is a new version), is not DirectX. Game devs make most popular titles for DirectX and there is plenty of reasons why, one of them being the SDK's.

BazookaJoe: This isn't a direct bash on your post directly (or you directly), this is just my general thoughts on some of the points you brought up.

/end Thursday rant
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#21
Dent1
by: FYFI13
Tell me the same in few years, once Microsoft drops Windows 7 support. Ballmer will destroy Microsoft, he's evil sent from Apple :fear:
It's been 11 years since Windows XP it's still easier to use, has a bigger application library, and has more application compatibility than Linux ever has.

...I think I'll take the 5% performance loss.
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#23
jihadjoe
by: BazookaJoe
Newer versions of windows don't really give a shit if your perfectly standard sound card works or not anymore or where your GPU juice goes - its FAAR FAR FAR more important that your title bar is transparent so you can barely tell one window from the other, that your mouse has shadows, and that EVERYTHING slides around and wooshes in and out like you just bounced a bag of spoiled weed
Bad news for you: The default Unity front-end for Ubuntu is also rather fluffy!
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#24
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
Ubuntu doesn't restrict you to one window manager either. You don't have to use Unity.
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