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Valve cranks up Linux gaming, makes it faster than Windows

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#1 +Frank B.

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 16:49

Valve cranks up Linux gaming, makes it faster than Windows

Valve's distaste for Windows 8 has led the company to take on an increasing interest in Linux, and the new Valve Linux blog shows that, with some work, the Source Engine actually runs faster on it than it does on Windows. The company used a testbed with an Intel i7 3930k, Nvidia GeForce GTX 680, and 32GB of RAM to pit Left 4 Dead 2 on Windows 7 against Ubuntu 12, and the results are rather interesting.

At first, Valve's Linux port of Left 4 Dead 2 ran at only 6 FPS on the i7 machine, but after tweaking the game to make effective use of the efficient characteristics of the Linux kernel and OpenGL, the Valve Linux team was able to eke out a much higher 315 FPS. Using the same machine running Windows 7 and Direct3D, the same game ran at 270.6 FPS, or roughly 14 percent slower.

After optimizing the Source Engine for the Linux platform, Valve wondered why OpenGL was outperforming Direct3D at a technical level. Their research found that, on the same hardware, there are "a few additional microseconds [of] overhead per batch in Direct3D which does not affect OpenGL," indicating that Direct3D may not be as efficient as Microsoft would like developers to believe. There are still challenges ahead for the Valve Linux team, however, as the state of Linux graphics card drivers is still a tumultuous affair. The team has yet to work with AMD and Nvidia, but collaboration with Intel's engineers took place just last month.

Source: The Verge


#2 Draconian Guppy

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 16:52

Even though gaming on linux would be nice, not every company feels the same way about linux developing just because there isn't moolah$$ to be made there, compared to windows.

Also, stupid question but hey.. If linux is "open" wouldn't cracking/pirating be easier?

#3 guitmz

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 16:59

Also, stupid question but hey.. If linux is "open" wouldn't cracking/pirating be easier?


not really... you CAN run non-opensource programs in linux. There are plenty and games are among them. Piracy in Windows is as easy as in Linux, it comes with the demand.

#4 f0rk_b0mb

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 17:01

If companies jump on board with this like Valve is hoping and port their games over, could OS X and Linux really be the next gaming platform? I'll switch when all my games are supported, and Windows 7 is at end of life.

#5 Blackhearted

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 17:03

This would be more interesting if they did this with a modern engine. But since this is valve we'll only get to see this "it's faster than windows" thing with the hideously outdated source engine.

#6 CPressland

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 17:04

Well, the more support Linux gets, the more support my Macs get. I'll take OpenGL games over DirectX any day! (see Quake 3).

This would be more interesting if they did this with a modern engine. But since this is valve we'll only get to see this "it's faster than windows" thing with the hideously outdated source engine.


What exactly is wrong with the Source engine out of curiosity? it still looks and performs great!

#7 Anibal P

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 17:05

If companies jump on board with this like Valve is hoping and port their games over, could OS X and Linux really be the next gaming platform? I'll switch when all my games are supported, and Windows 7 is at end of life.


No, there are people who will NEVER use anything but Windows, just look at any thread involving Linux or OS X, it always devolves to Windows fanboys bashing everything and anything not Windows, performance enhancements like mentioned here are of no concern to them.

#8 ViperAFK

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 17:05

Even though gaming on linux would be nice, not every company feels the same way about linux developing just because there isn't moolah$$ to be made there, compared to windows.

Also, stupid question but hey.. If linux is "open" wouldn't cracking/pirating be easier?


1. Companies should be looking linux as an opportunity to make money in the future. Sure windows has marketshare now, and is obviously the best for immediate profits, but linux has a lot of potential to make them money in the future. If more companies do what valve is doing, linux has a very real chance to take off. Its the only way to get past this chicken and egg scenerio of "We don't support linux because it doesn't have marketshare" and "Linux has low marketshare because companies don't support it"

2. I doubt linux would have any effect on the prevalence of piracy, windows games area already cracked day 1, and drm has proven to be ineffective in the first place. The real way to combat piracy is to provide a convenient service to your customers and make high quality games. If you don't treat customers like criminals, they will be more likely to buy the games.

#9 Vice

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 17:05

Same specs as my machine :D Valve knows quality.

#10 +Lingwo

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 17:05

Technically using Linux doesn't make it faster, OpenGL does.
It is good Valve are pushing Steam to Linux but i don't see many developers porting their games over to Linux, unless it is easy and cost effective for them.

#11 Anibal P

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 17:07

Well, the more support Linux gets, the more support my Macs get. I'll take OpenGL games over DirectX any day! (see Quake 3).



What exactly is wrong with the Source engine out of curiosity? it still looks and performs great!


You aren't forced to buy new games because it's incompatible with older versions, while Source is constantly updated without the forced upgrade or forcing you to purchase your games all over again

#12 guitmz

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 17:07

source engine is pretty amazing... even amazing for the year that was created. it still looks pretty good and they can optimize it if they want to... but anyway, linux is capable of running unreal engine games for example, that's a most up-to-date base for comparing. osx is also capable of running such games and afterall, osx and linux are both derivated from the same thing, so they're more equal than it seems

#13 ObiWanToby

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 17:07

Is the visual quality identical?

I have a sneaky suspicion that for more advanced engines, like Frostbite 2.0, D3D will win. I am all for linux gaming, but right now Windows dominates that.

#14 Pupik

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 17:08

As long as they'll keep developing games for Windows machines, I could care less.

#15 simplezz

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 17:09

I'd like to see what "thenetavenger" has to say about this. He always claims on the front pages that Direct3D is superior to OpenGL. I guess this goes to show he couldn't be more wrong.

Linux and OpenGL are more than capable at competing against Microsoft's Direct3D. In fact, from every test I've seen, Doom3 also runs faster using OpenGL too. Not only that, but developers can target a much broader set of platforms with OpenGL (Linux, OS X, Android, iOS, and more).