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Valve Shares Performance Numbers On Port of Left4Dead

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the meaningless-but-interesting dept.

Games 274

New submitter nschubach writes in with an update on Valve's progress porting one of their games to GNU/Linux. From the article: "One factor in creating a good gaming experience is throughput. This post discusses some of what we've learned about the performance of our games running on Linux. ... After this work, Left 4 Dead 2 is running at 315 FPS on Linux. That the Linux version runs faster than the Windows version (270.6) seems a little counter-intuitive, given the greater amount of time we have spent on the Windows version. However, it does speak to the underlying efficiency of the kernel and OpenGL. Interestingly, in the process of working with hardware vendors we also sped up the OpenGL implementation on Windows. Left 4 Dead 2 is now running at 303.4 FPS with that configuration." nschubach adds "It seems there are good things coming out of this for both Operating Systems!"

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Valve is big on Linux (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855309)

Just look at all the games available on Steam for Linux

Re:Valve is big on Linux (4, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856009)

% wine Steam.exe

Yeah, look at them all.

Re:Valve is big on Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40856071)

% wine Office.exe

Hey, look, MS has released Office for Linux! Let's give them a round of applause!

What does it tell you? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855351)

What does it tell you when, to fully optimize something on Windows, you have to port it to Linux first?

Re:What does it tell you? (5, Interesting)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855407)

To be fair, it was their porting to to Open GL that improved the windows Open GL performance. What I find more interesting, to be honest, is that Open GL is (slightly) outperforming Direct 3D on a windows/nvidia box.

Re:What does it tell you? (4, Interesting)

synapse7 (1075571) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855631)

Does the openGL driver/port have the same graphic detail as the directX version?

Re:What does it tell you? (1)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855835)

There's no mention of graphic detail in their article, so I'd presume (might be a big one) that they're running both at equivalent resolution, level of detail, and shader effects

Re:What does it tell you? (0)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855687)

OpenGL sits over the top of DirectX on Windows so just using it would incur a penalty. I'm fairly certain that anyone porting a DirectX game to Linux using winelib or some commercial derivative would incur a penalty in the other direction.

Re:What does it tell you? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855721)

OpenGL sits over the top of DirectX on Windows

No, it doesn't. That was the plan when they developed Vista, but it was scrapped after an outcry from half the industry. The OpenGL driver is just as low level as the DirectX driver on Windows.

Re:What does it tell you? (0)

kav2k (1545689) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855765)

[citation needed]

Re:What does it tell you? (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855817)

Er, no, it actually doesn't.

Microsoft had planned to do so in Vista (they actually wanted to run old versions of DirectX on top of DX10, then the newest), but they scrapped that plan well before release after half the game industry, most of the professional graphics industry, and the graphics card companies themselves rose up in arms (Nvidia was actually planning on circumventing it, offering direct OpenGL).

So on any actually-released version of Windows, OpenGL is as low-level as DirectX.

Re:What does it tell you? (2)

kbonin (58917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855843)

This is not true - OpenGL is still a native driver. Microsoft wanted to cripple OpenGL in this way, but the CAD industry pushed back through Khronos and Microsoft agreed to retain native driver access.

Microsoft still hasn't updated the Windows OpenGL library bindings in something like a decade, so OpenGL developers all have to use the extension mechanism to access all of the new features.

Re:What does it tell you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855893)

OpenGL sits over the top of DirectX on Windows so just using it would incur a penalty. I'm fairly certain that anyone porting a DirectX game to Linux using winelib or some commercial derivative would incur a penalty in the other direction.

Games running on Wine/WineX/Cedega used to run faster than natively on Windows in a lot of cases, but I suspect that has to do with many functions not being implemented or just quick hacks to work rather than render correctly, not some magical performance increase while doing the same operations on the same hardware.

Back in the day, many games used to have a choice of rendering systems, D3D or OpenGL, (and or software even) and everyone knew different features were implemented on each. There's no reason to assume Valve's OpenGL port is feature complete.

Re:What does it tell you? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855445)

Probably that, when dealing with GPU-limited things like framerates in a moderately intensive OpenGL application, a substantial portion of your performance is going to come down to the togetherness between your application and the GPU vendor's drivers, so working with said vendors might help...

Re:What does it tell you? (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856181)

This is actually a mundane sort of thing in cross platform development. Your other "ports" aren't just a money pit. They allow you to stress your code in ways you might not have thought of. Typically the bugs you find in secondary platforms improve your product on it's primary platform.

Year of... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855395)

LINUX DESKTOP

Re:Year of... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855483)

And my distro is the best!

Re:Year of... (3, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855491)

Linux Desktop? Nope. Desktops are dying anyway, almost everyone has moved to laptops.

Year of the Linux game console, perhaps?

Re:Year of... (5, Interesting)

Deorus (811828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855729)

Linux Desktop? Nope. Desktops are dying anyway, almost everyone has moved to laptops.

This is unfortunate. Ever since I became a nomad (and switched to Apple) that I miss actually shopping for desktop hardware. Every time I enter a retail store and look at the high-end video cards I really really want to build a desktop, but it can't fit my luggage... The desktop PC is far from being dead and I am already missing it, I think it's gonna be one of those things that I will remember from early 21st century just like I miss tinkering with analog electronics in the 80s (no, I'm not old, I was born in that decade).

Year of the Linux game console, perhaps?

Rumor has it that Valve is building a console with PC hardware, so I wouldn't rule out that possibility. They feel that the Windows and Mac App Stores represent a threat to Steam as a third party, so this may be part of their strategy to build a platform of their own. Blizzard has expressed similar feelings, which makes sense if we consider the rumor that they had and probably still have a third party service like Steam planned for battle.net (at least according to the leaked schedules [techcrunch.com] which have been quite accurate, though battle.net third parties is overdue at this point).

Re:Year of... (5, Interesting)

Ratchet (79516) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856113)

I think they aren't so much building a game console as they are building a spec for a Linux based gaming PC for everyone to get behind. That makes more sense to me. I, quite literally, only use Windows to play games. Every thing else I either do on my phone, tablet, or already just as easily could do under Linux. If they can make it easy for us hardcore gamers to transition to Linux, then I doubt any of us would bother with Windows again.

The only issue is support for all this cutting edge hardware I have. Linux is always a problem there, but if gamers start to flock, I hope so too will the companies that make our gaming hardware.

Re:Year of... (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855821)

There is a difference between your computer's desktop and a desktop computer.
Reports of the Linux Desktop's death have been greatly exaggerated.

Re:Year of... (0)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855771)

My question for Valve is, why did it take them this long to port
games to Linux? Did their janitor remove his headphones that
one time and told them, hey I know this! And get on the phone
to contact his homies about this crew (yea Valve, toldja before)
that needed help boosting the FPS on nvidia, and bring some
sandwiches, yeah Hold the mayo. Make it two. And no ice in the
soda, remember what happens when it melts?

Re:Year of... (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856209)

I'm guessing it was solid influence plus just taking a long ass time? I'm not anyone with a view into valve though, but my thoughts are that:

Valve is so big now that if they go "we're going to Linux" they can bring it en masse. Back when valve was relatively new that wouldn't have exactly happened like that.

Re:Year of... (5, Informative)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856239)

Valve projects run on the basis of "work on what you think brings value to our customers and to the company", so someone would have to have decided "I think a Linux port is a good idea, so I will start working on one" and encouraged other people to join the project. All of their desks are on wheels, so people working on stuff can move their desks together - they just unplug from where they are and plug in where they go.

Valve has a flattened hierarchy, there are no managers. Team leaders aren't appointed, they just happen because the naturally turn out to be the team leader. Remuneration is based on perceived worth by your peers. Their employee handbook is an interesting read - the PDF of it was publicly available, last time I checked.

Interesting bit from the article (5, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855425)

What I found interesting was how much an improvement this is from their initial port.

Their very first version ran at a full six frames per second (167ms/frame). They've now gotten it up to 315 fps (3.17ms/frame).

That's some pretty impressive work. Pity the article is so light on the details of how they did it (I'll spare you reading the article: they found places where it ran slow due to the kernel, they found places where it ran slow making OpenGL calls, and they found places in the driver itself that ran slowly - that's about as much detail as the actual article gives you).

Re:Interesting bit from the article (5, Interesting)

kav2k (1545689) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855595)

What I find really interesting is the fact that this port spurred impovements in proprietary OpenGL drivers, in close collaboration with manufacturers.

This push by Valve may benefit everyone, even people who never will use Steam.

Re:Interesting bit from the article (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855611)

The article gives about as much detail as you need really. The heap stuff sounds familiar, I think they mentioned that they were going to optimise it pretty early on. It is nice that they've achieved such speed gains though, especially on the driver side.

Re:Interesting bit from the article (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856095)

I would have liked much more detail. What shaders were the most problematic to optimize? What sections of the code perform differently (the netcode? the AI? the animation?)

Valve normally goes into a lot more detail. I remember their TF2 art presentation going on and on about shader algorithms - lots of equations, and pictures showing the effect of each term.

Re:Interesting bit from the article (4, Interesting)

Ynot_82 (1023749) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856237)

I'm sure lots more details are coming.

Valve are doing a big presentation on their Linux adventures next week at SIGGRAPH (6th - 9th Aug)

Re:Interesting bit from the article (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856251)

Well, it is just a blog post - perhaps they'll do a more in depth presentation at a later point? :)

Re:Interesting bit from the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855949)

That's some pretty impressive work.

I too find 6fps in L4D to be very impressive. By comparison it takes Valve 3.14159fpd (frames per day) to Crysis. Very, very impressive!

Re:Interesting bit from the article (1)

eddy (18759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856221)

The initial port probably ran on a MESA (software) backend. Hence 6 fps.

Re:Interesting bit from the article (5, Informative)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856313)

Let's be careful with statements, please. They didn't say it ran slow due to the kernel or OpenGL, that is BS. They are acknowledging their own errors, not OpenGL's and not the kernels. They also did say exactly what they did to fix the situation.

I'll spare you on your details with the reality of what they said:

Their goals:
Performance improvements fall into several categories:
Modifying our game to work better with the kernel
Modifying our game to work better with OpenGL
Optimizing the graphics driver

The results:
An example of the first category would be changing our memory allocator to use more appropriate Linux functions. This was achieved by implementing the Source engine small block heap to work under Linux. The second category would include reducing overhead in calling OpenGL, and extending our renderer with new interfaces for better encapsulation of OpenGL and Direct3D.
The third category is especially interesting because it involves working with hardware manufacturers to identify issues in their drivers and, as a result, improving the public driver which benefits all games. Identifying driver stalls and adding multithreading support in the driver are two examples of changes that were the result of this teamwork. That's not a valve benefit, that's "all linux games" benefit.

Efficiency (3, Interesting)

defender.tx (2699199) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855441)

Takeaway: the linux kernel and OpenGL are arguably more efficient than their Windows-based counterparts. I think a lot of people have thought this to be true for years, but it's always nice to see solid comparisons. It's a good time to have a linux box!

Re:Efficiency (4, Interesting)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855493)

Yea, I noticed several years ago, back when I used to play WoW and my computer could barely handle, that it would run faster in Linux on Wine with OpenGL than it would on Windows XP. I mean I'm talking ~5fps on windows to ~15fps with better graphics on Linux -- not really playable on Windows, barely playable on Linux.

Re:Efficiency (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40856247)

It's been my experience as well that many games run at higher Fps under Linux plus wine versus windows, howeverI had assumed it was because many wine functions were just stubs not necessarily better graphics API plus kernel. I was pretty sue that the Linux kernel would be better as it seemed like Microsoft hadn't changed the nt kernel much in years.

Re:Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855525)

I'm no Linux-user, but even I understand that things are going to run more efficiently on Linux. You don't run Windows for its speed and efficiency, no matter how much you try and optimize.

If Valve wasn't expecting a Linux build to run faster, have they really done enough research to justify their expansion plans? With this, it seems more like just a knee-jerk reaction to not liking either Windows 8 or the Surface brouhaha.

Re:Efficiency (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855589)

They weren't expecting it to run more efficiently *given the level of work they invested*. They've sunk years of work into making the Windows version run quickly. Getting a Linux port to run faster, only months after getting their initial port running (the first running Linux version ran at 6 fps under the same test), is impressive.

Re:Efficiency (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855733)

With this, it seems more like just a knee-jerk reaction to not liking either Windows 8 or the Surface brouhaha.

Well, that is what it is, and that is what is expected. Valve/Steam is in the business of desktop gaming. Windows 8 (and Gnome 3) will steer people away from desktop computers on to tablets and other devices primarily intended for consuming and not input heavy work.
If Gabe didn't react, I would be more worried.

Re:Efficiency (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855991)

Really? People will play stuff like WoW and Skyrim on tablets? Somehow I doubt it.

Re:Efficiency (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856283)

Really? People will play stuff like WoW and Skyrim on tablets? Somehow I doubt it.

You missed the point, being that if people convert to tablets, there won't be any future Skyrim class games.

Re:Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855767)

If Valve wasn't expecting a Linux build to run faster, have they really done enough research to justify their expansion plans? With this, it seems more like just a knee-jerk reaction to not liking either Windows 8 or the Surface brouhaha.

According to MS and Valve, the Linux market is as large, or larger than OSX. Are you saying Apple's OSX is a knee-jerk reaction to Windows?

The real problem is, far too many people, especially on slashdot, have been barfing out known invalid numbers, and stale by half a decade, desktop numbers for Linux. Worse, when these were corrected, they were almost always troll moderated in an effort to censor, such that few learn, much more accurate numbers existed and have existed for a long time now.

The simple fact is, the year of the Linux desktop quietly came and went HALF A DECADE AGO. Linux on the desktop is a success*. The only things holding Linux back are games, tax software, and pre-loads. Valve is attempting to fix games. With browser based tax software, that largely addresses that. And companies like Dell is once again trying test pre-loads.

Its important to understand that Dell has always seen value in Linux pre-loads. The problem has always been Microsoft extorting Dell to prevent that. As such, Dells linux pre-loads have always horribly suffered at the hands of anti-competative Microsoft.

The simple fact is, anyone who says the Year of the Linux Desktop has not arrived is also saying Apple's OSX is a failure. You can't have it both ways. Either Apple has a desktop success, as has Linux, or they both are failures. Which is it?

* Part of the problem here is, far too many ignorantly believe that Linux's desktop success is defined as Microsoft's complete loss on the desktop. Such expectations is frankly, idiocy. Regardless, for whatever reason, that's what many want to believe.

Conserve Energy! (0)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855527)

Save the Earth, use Linux!

...

You don't care about the environment? You know, that place you live in? The only one available with no alternatives?

Okay then.

Save your wallet, use Linux!

Re:Conserve Energy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855723)

It's more, "Max your shit either way, but FPS-bate about your imperceptible 3% gain in framerate on a three year old game"

I know this is super exciting in terms of Linux gaming to actually have games to play, but you have to understand this isn't exactly making Redmond quake in fear or any of the Windows gamers who stopped playing L4D2 two years ago feel bad.

Re:Conserve Energy! (3, Funny)

PremiumCarrion (861236) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856057)

Uh, use of linux will surely lead to us running out of a natural resource which cannot be replenished. Frames.
By burning more frames per second we risk our childrens future, those poor bastards will have to view TV on e-ink at this rate.

Re:Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855579)

I wouldn't say so. It means, you can create more efficient code, when you can look at the underlying sources, instead of guessing the inner workings.

Re:Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855635)

To play a game that Windows users stopped playing two years ago?

How's the Linux port of Super Mario Bros.? Blazing?

Re:Efficiency (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856255)

If Windows users aren't playing it anymore then it was a crap game to begin with. Good games stand the test of time and even get run in emulation 30 years later. Don't waste my time or money with dreck.

Plenty of people still play Super Mario knockoffs (or the real thing in emulation). Mario never went anywhere.

Re:Efficiency (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855677)

Even guys at Windows know this, I've heard talk of getting rid of certain windows pieces such as DirectX and .NET

Re:Efficiency (4, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855683)

You may well be right, I'd be cautious in taking anything away from this particular article though, as Valve have made it quite clear now that they have a vested interest in seeing Windows fall as they see Windows 8 as a genuine threat to their existence if people start buying games directly from the Windows Marketplace rather than Steam. When they referring to Windows 8 as a general "Catastrophe" which is probably a bit of a stretch, even if it maybe is for them, then it's hard to see them as objective on this issue.

Not that this is likely to be an unpopular move here, nor is it necessarily a bad thing if a company like Valve is helping Windows fall a peg or two, but now Valve has a clear political motivation to attacking windows, it's hard to see anything anti-Windows they mention as necessarily objective. It's also quite possible that Valve's Windows engine actually just isn't well optimised, and that now that they're moving it to another platform it's given them chance to rewrite components that were long overdue for a rewrite. I believe at least some of the foundations and design of the Source engine actually stem all the way back to the Quake 1 codebase for example.

Re:Efficiency (5, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855933)

Much of the engine design dates back to the Quake 2 engine, but none of the code does.

History time!

First came Quake, which was coded completely from scratch. Then came Quake ][, which was a significant overhaul and massive rewrite. Some of the code was saved, but the engine design itself was changed quite a bit. Both of those engines were written by id Software.

Valve licensed the Quake ][ engine, and improved on it, adding a new renderer (a DirectX one, IIRC, but they kept the OpenGL and software renderers) and several other nice features. They used this for Half-Life, Team Fortress Classic, Counter-Strike 1.6, etc., and also offered it for relicensing under the name GoldSrc.

Over the years and years it took to make Half-Life 2, they rewrote literally the entire engine. Not a single line of code remains from Quake ][. They rewrote the renderer (several times), added all kinds of animation goodies, integrated Havok physics, and so on. But they kept the same basic client/local server/server design, the same general layout. It's much like how GNU made the basic Linux toolset - they copied the design of UNIX, but did not use any code from it.

Valve has continued to use and upgrade this engine, calling it Source to confuse everyone. They've offered it for license, and at one point were seen as a decent competitor, but they've really fallen behind in the post-UnrealEngine 3 world. I half-suspect they'll be either doing a total engine redesign, or giving up and licensing someone else's engine.

Re:Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40856047)

Hmm, sounds about right expect that Valve used the Quake 1 engine and heavily modified that.

Wikipedia to the rescue!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GoldSrc

And your not completely wrong, it does use a bunch of bug fixes from the Quake 2 engine. And its not a version of the Quake 1 engine but Quakeworld engine.

Atleast that is what I found in the english and dutch article, take their validity with a grain of salt.

Linux supreme! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855447)

Deal with it, menial M$ users...

What about quality? (1)

AwesomeMcgee (2437070) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855463)

I'm just curious; how does the visual quality stand up I wonder? I always thought OpenGL didn't have the same amount of features that Direct3D does.. Can someone here speak to that?

Re:What about quality? (3, Informative)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855509)

From what I understand, OpenGL has more features because they support extensions where Direct3D has to wait for Microsoft support. Granted, this requires that the developer actually use those extensions. The blog is rather light on details/screenshots.

Re:What about quality? (2)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855549)

In practice though, Direct3D will usually support the functionality as soon as its available. MS works pretty closely with the 3D graphics hardware companies since good D3D support is in everyone's interests.

Re:What about quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855541)

From what I understand, they can do about the same, but some things are much easier in each.

Also, they both have version adoption problems:
DX9 is the standard, DX10 is common, and DX11 is problematically new for developers.
OpenGL 2.1 is the standard, OpenGL 3 is common, but OpenGL > 4 is problematic for developers.

Re:What about quality? (1)

nullchar (446050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855557)

640,000 shaders should be enough for everyone!

Re:What about quality? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855603)

nschubach is correct. OpenGL has feature parity with DX for a very long time now. And as he said, there are numerous optional extensions which are only available for OpenGL.

That's one of the big advantages of OpenGL in that its far easier and faster to get newer advanced graphics capabilities into OpenGL. Whereas with DX, you're forced to wait on MS and because of their policy, frequently forced to wait on hardware vendors to catch up.

If you want a superior graphical experience, OpenGL is where its at. The only trick is to stop getting developers to accept MS' bribes and to start developing for OpenGL again. In the long run, its better for everyone, except MS.

Re:What about quality? (5, Interesting)

defender.tx (2699199) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855619)

See for yourself. Download the Heaven DX11 Benchmark [unigine.com] . Run it in DX11 API mode and then OpenGL mode and see the difference. There is a difference, but it's fairly minor. Usually DX11 or OpenGL will be the first to support a new feature, then the other supports it in the next release. The end result is that they normally produce a similar graphics quality.

Re:What about quality? (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855719)

With the latest iterations of OpenGL there is pretty much feature parity. Some of the bleeding edge tessellation and such deals don't have feature parity and bloom doesn't have as much impact but to be honest they look shit to me most of the time anyways.

Bloom can make otherwise totally photo-realistic games look cartoony. Which is great, if you're into that, I'm not.

However I think Valves involvement is even making those issues go away, since they're even working on OpenGL itself.

Re:What about quality? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856007)

They're basically the same at this point.

There have been times when either was ahead (early versions of Direct3D lacked many features, while some versions of Direct3D were a leap ahead of OpenGL). As of right now, they're pretty much tied for features.

That does not, however, mean that different versions of a game, using different renderers, look the same. But that's because the game uses different code to do it, and if they don't take care to make them look the same, they often will not.

Back when I was playing Half-Life, the OpenGL renderer looked much better on my computer (it seemed to use better texture filtering than DirectX). However, it somehow caused an audio problem when underwater - you couldn't hear anything. So for the levels with water in it, I generally switched over to DirectX just for a bit. It was most likely just because the renders stuck to default settings, not bothering to set a texture filter mode, and the drivers decided on different defaults for each.

Great (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855537)

Can we bring those improvements to Mac OS X?

Re:Great (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855573)

The Mac games that use OpenGL.
The games that use Cider, which is a wrapper using a long-time fork of Wine? Nope. DirectX-to-OpenGL translation isn't going to get better.

Source games will get better, other devs wont care, and Sims 3 will never be more performant (cider).

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855891)

Funny thing, the way it's going Valve will probably abandond OSX once they close it down completely.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855945)

The Mac games that use OpenGL.
The games that use Cider, which is a wrapper using a long-time fork of Wine? Nope. DirectX-to-OpenGL translation isn't going to get better.

Source games will get better, other devs wont care, and Sims 3 will never be more performant (cider).

And who honestly thinks Linux will see a better ratio of native to Cider/Cedega ports than OS X?

Re:Great (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855633)

Why would they?

OS X doesn't have the user base windows has or the potential to increase it in any way, like Linux does.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855809)

Good troll, considering Steam for Mac OS already exists. Idiot.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855883)

even though they SHOULD NOT exist...

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855947)

And considering that the OS X user-base has been increasing faster than the Windows user-base since 2006!

Re:Great (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856297)

Not terribly impressive considering that Microsoft has relegated Apple to single digit market share for about 20 years.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855923)

I think Nabe newell actually cares about their mac customer, but it is difficult for him too. Blame steve jobs and tim cook. They have a tendency of ignoring third party vendor when they request apple to fix some parts of their broken os or add graphic capabilities to their macs. Added to the fact that apple breaks something with every other release, I dont think developers will be too happy fixing something on apple's whim.

Ehhhhhh. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855555)

Last I checked FPS over 60 generally doesn't mean much for most people. Very few gamers can even notice a difference between 60-100 let alone over 100.

So there is no real point in posting huge FPS numbers in Windows or Linux as it really doesn't matter.

Re:Ehhhhhh. (1)

Wain13001 (1119071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855791)

Huge FPS numbers actually are very useful for a variety of reasons. FPS is highly variable during gameplay, the higher the general FPS, the better your FPS will be when the game gets swamped with moving particles...which means it might not slow to a crawl at the most intense and exciting parts of the game...something that is particularly important in a multiplayer game like L4D.

Not to mention of course the fact that we are able to see a relatively accurate measurement of efficiency between two platforms, which of course is the article's point.

Re:Ehhhhhh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855853)

Careful with this assumption. Framerate drops have multiple causes, and simply having a high peak FPS unfortunately does not at all guarantee a high minimum FPS.

Re:Ehhhhhh. (1)

Diss Champ (934796) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855803)

It seems to me that being faster than necessary on one piece of hardware means that, all else equal, it will be noticably better on some slower piece of hardware.

As long as the benchmark is not done with minimum system that is capable of running the game.

Re:Ehhhhhh. (3, Informative)

bmd256 (1484893) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855819)

From a user standpoint those huge numbers don't really matter. From a developer standpoint it gives them clues on how efficient their code is. The faster the engine runs the better, and developers can start doing more with it (more features,detail, etc...)

Re:Ehhhhhh. (1)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855921)

Since almost all LCD displays only refresh at 60Hz, no matter how frequently the graphics card's framebuffer is being redrawn, the only thing a higher framerate would get you is the ability to turn off vsync and buffering without having any tearing issues. So you might get slightly better latencies maybe?

People with 120 Hz 3d LCDs could benefit from higher frame rates, though. But I don't think it's likely that _anyone_ is gaming on a display that's actually capable of showing >250 FPS. Maybe such displays exist, but I doubt there are many people using them for mere shooters!

Re:Ehhhhhh. (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855965)

It's just a benchmark. It's not saying "These extra 200 fps are going to make your game sooo much better."

They're talking about the increased performance in opengl rendering in general that you get with Linux.

Re:Ehhhhhh. (4, Insightful)

Minwee (522556) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856075)

Very few gamers can even notice a difference between 60-100 let alone over 100.

They will, however, notice the difference when a sudden spike in activity causes the fps to drop to half or a quarter of that. Rendering speeds are highly dependant on what is being rendered.

A game running at 240fps can happily suffer a 75% drop without any noticeable impact, while a game which just barely makes 60 fps will not.

Re:Ehhhhhh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40856305)

Valve is working on their framework in addition to the game. So while FPS rates for this specific game have diminishing playability returns, it will pay dividends for all their other games. Not to mention, its good business and bragging rights if they can boast a free platform which provides a superior gaming experience.

DOS (1)

Jimpqfly (790794) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855561)

Could we get back to DOS 6.22 and benchmark it?

Re:DOS (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856015)

Well the result would be 0 FPS because DOS couldn't even load the game menu, let alone the information to render a single frame of a modern HD game.

Re:DOS (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856227)

Sure, why not? HX Dos Extender supports Win32 binaries and OpenGL. Although it's only software rendering, so I don't think you'd get much in the way of FPS.

Episode 3 (1)

Quakeulf (2650167) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855749)

Nice numbers, but where is Episode 3?

Re:Episode 3 (2, Interesting)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855961)

If you haven't noticed, Valve stopped making games a while ago and instead became a content whoring system. One game every 5+ years doesn't make you a game developer IMHO.

We developers knew this for a long time.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855795)

One of the advantages of OpenGL vs DirectX is that it doesn't force the underlying hardware to comply as strictly in areas such as memory management, command batching, shader assembly, etc. This allows implementers more freedom to optimize and usually results in much higher performance. Even if a full backwards compatible OpenGL context is huge.

This approach was proven again very succesful with mobile hardware, where vendors such as Qualcomm, PowerVR or Tegra or ARM (Mali) produce graphics chips that comply with OpenGL but at the same time use the higher level abstaction of the API to their advantage, by supplying very different backends each (Immediate Rendering, Deferred and Tile Based Deferred) as means to improve performance (per watt and silicon space) to levels much higher than the desktop counterparts.

Added to that, programming games under Linux is a joy for those used to it, as the tools are fantastic (command line scripting, gdb with hardware watchpoints, valgrind, strace, etc) and the fact the OS manages the heavy load of games much better. Many companies I worked with, and even big ones such as Naughty Dog (makers of Uncharted) develop their games primarily under Linux, even if the final versions are released for Windows, Mac and Consoles.

Which versions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855801)

One key factor omitted is which version of OpenGL they are using. I certainly find the advantage highly interesting, but the comparison may unfortunately not be completely fair if they used OpenGL 4.x. Bear in mind the source engine only supports D3D9, which is 10 years old in a few months.

We developers knew this for a long time.. (5, Informative)

goruka (1721094) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855831)

One of the advantages of OpenGL vs DirectX is that it doesn't force the underlying hardware to comply as strictly in areas such as memory management, command batching, shader assembly, etc. This allows implementers more freedom to optimize and usually results in much higher performance. Even if a full backwards compatible OpenGL context is huge.

This approach was proven again very succesful with mobile hardware, where vendors such as Qualcomm, PowerVR or Tegra or ARM (Mali) produce graphics chips that comply with OpenGL but at the same time use the higher level abstaction of the API to their advantage, by supplying very different backends each (Immediate Rendering, Deferred and Tile Based Deferred) as means to improve performance (per watt and silicon space) to levels much higher than the desktop counterparts.

Added to that, programming games under Linux is a joy for those used to it, as the tools are fantastic (command line scripting, gdb with hardware watchpoints, valgrind, strace, etc) and the fact the OS manages the heavy load of games much better. Many companies I worked with, and even big ones such as Naughty Dog (makers of Uncharted) develop their games primarily under Linux, even if the final versions are released for Windows, Mac and Consoles.

Re:We developers knew this for a long time.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40856299)

and even big ones such as Naughty Dog (makers of Uncharted) develop their games primarily under Linux

Uhh their primary target is the ps3. That is a gcc based stack and the sdk is a linux box... So working in linux makes sense. Not because it is somehow better. If you worked with xbox guys you would probably see them working in the MS environments more. But wii and ps3 guys are using gcc based frameworks...

I know I am going to come off as a 'shill' but MS tools rock (I am not talking about their frameworks). It is the one thing that holds me to windows these days. All those tools you mention are available in windows and usually better polished. Valgrind compaired to say using boundschecker. You goto valgrind and bisect issues, boundschecker puts you right on the offending line that they think either overwrote memory or leaked. There are dozens of tools in windows like that. Valgrind is good for what it is (and better than nothing) but needs major work. If I am looking for memory/threading issues I usually port it to windows then debug it there. Most of the the IDE frameworks out there are clumsy wrappers around GDB. They have really improved in the past 5 years. But they still have a long way to go. Dont get me wrong. There is a tool for everything and many that are better than windows. But many are clumsy and tedious to use.

Whats the point of 300+ FPS (2)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 2 years ago | (#40855935)

Rather then going for broke and getting as much FPS as possible, why don't game developers focus on optimizing the experience for a SOLID 60 FPS, that is, instead of peaking at 300 FPS in one scene, and then dropping to 45 FPS in another, strive for a constant frame rate.

If 60 fps does not tax a rendering system, then focus on MORE content in the scene, such as more particles or physics effects which enhance the gaming experience.

Maybe this is just some raw development figure, but there is absolutely no point in dumping as many frames as possible to a screen which only refreshes a given number of times per second.

I mean if someone came out with a car that outputs 300hp when driving 60 mph, I wouldn't be impressed, so why do I care how many frames are rendered between screen refreshes.

Re:Whats the point of 300+ FPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40856101)

Hard to say why they use a case like this. Max FPS is commonly ignored in gaming circles because its common knowledge that a system which manages a good top FPS, may not at all cope so well when the system is under heavy load (e.g. 30-60 fps). Not only that, but its also far more important. It doesn't, as you say, help anyone if a system can manage 150 FPS over 100 FPS in idle situations, but dumps down to 25 FPS rather than 30 when theres actual load.

In terms of experience, the second system with 30 FPS under load is superior. I dearly hope Valve's results are consistent.

Re:Whats the point of 300+ FPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40856161)

Older hardware that wasn't playable before now may be and better overall performance will give you avstable experience even on normally slow parts like many many particles appearing...

Re:Whats the point of 300+ FPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40856169)

RAGE did this. Everyone hated it.

Re:Whats the point of 300+ FPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40856275)

RAGE had the problem of being a console port, completely ignoring for example the far greater amounts of memory a computer has available. Or any configuration options whatsoever.

Re:Whats the point of 300+ FPS (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856271)

This was 300fps on an *extremely* powerful system. The GeForce 680 is the most powerful single-GPU card on the market, and the 3930K is one of Intel's top consumer chips. I myself have a 660 and a 3610, weaker versions of the ones they used, and I can max out every game I have.

Getting 300fps on that means that, on a system a tenth as powerful, you get 30fps without dropping the graphics settings. Valve just doesn't chase the extreme high-end hardware - they don't bother adding more particles and such that make it look better only on a fraction of a percent of systems. Valve has perhaps the best knowledge of what real-world users are gaming on, thanks to the Steam Hardware Survey. So they can make an informed decision as to whether it is worth it to have the artists come in and add yet another layer of detail that will only be seen on the newest and most expensive computers.

That said, 120hz monitors seem to be rising in popularity, making rendering at 120fps a worthwhile goal. And it's often good to have a buffer of 10-20fps or so, because the amount of stuff you have to render isn't constant. In combat (with all the particle effects, explosions, flying debris, etc.), it often drops by 10%-20%, which can put you below 60fps if you're running at 70-80 normally.

Why is this news? BOYCOTT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40855977)

The summary mentions 'Windows'. Therefore it has no place on /.

You're starting to slip!

Well if Linux is getting game support! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40856003)

The this means only one thing for me. Time to build out a full native Linux install again. I switched to Windows only and with Sun( yes sun not Oracle, well it Oracle now, but I miss Sun) Virtual Box Linux VM's both Servers and Desktops for my Linux needs. But, I can build out a new BOX with some new kick ass hardware and start tweaking out a desktop. Hmm, things are looking up for Linux on the desktop. Sweet!

Eric

Left4Dead is DirectX9 (1)

Dunge (922521) | more than 2 years ago | (#40856187)

DirectX10+11 improved performance a lot. This study don't talk about it.

Re:Left4Dead is DirectX9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40856285)

This is not a study, and it's not about OpenGL vs DirectX performance either. No who knows a shit about gamedev really cares if L4D2 would run at 340 fps on one API and 325 on another, okay?

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