Feeds

Valve: Games run FASTER on Linux than Windows

It's because Direct3D is slow

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Not only has Valve Software successfully ported the first-person shooter game Left 4 Dead 2 to Linux, but it actually runs faster on the open source OS than on Windows.

Using high-end hardware, a version of the game running on Ubuntu 12.04 renders at 315fps, Valve's Linux team reports. That's a 16 per cent improvement over the Windows version, which only clocks at 270.6fps on the same configuration.

There was no magic involved. When the Valve developers first ported the game's code base over to Linux, the game crawled along at just 6fps. Only after the code was optimized to take advantage of the Linux kernel and video drivers did it manage playable speeds.

Throughout the porting process, Valve also worked with video card makers to squash bugs and remove bottlenecks, which should help to improve performance of all games running on Linux.

But what the Valve developers didn't expect, they say, was how much of the performance gain was attributable to OpenGL, the cross-platform graphics API that they used to implement the game on Linux.

Normally, the Windows version of Left 4 Dead 2 uses Direct3D, Microsoft's own, proprietary 3D graphics API. But when Valve developers built a new Windows version of the game based on OpenGL code borrowed from the Linux version, that version also ran faster than the Direct3D version, at 305fps.

Valve says its developers are still investigating why the OpenGL version performs better on Windows, and that it will use what it learns to improve performance on the Direct3D version.

The results are bad news for Microsoft, however, which has already taken its share of knocks from Valve co-founder Gabe Newell.

The Linux port of Left 4 Dead 2 is just part of a larger plan to bring Valve's entire Steam gaming platform to the open source OS as a "hedging strategy" against Windows 8, which Newell believes could be "a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space."

In the long run, Newell says, he'd like to get all 2,500 games now available through Steam running on Linux. That's a tall order, but it may just be possible if it turns out that Microsoft's proprietary technologies make for an inferior gaming platform. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Microsoft to bake Skype into IE, without plugins
Redmond thinks the Object Real-Time Communications API for WebRTC is ready to roll
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
Mozilla: Spidermonkey ATE Apple's JavaScriptCore, THRASHED Google V8
Moz man claims the win on rivals' own benchmarks
Yes, Virginia, there IS a W3C HTML5 standard – as of now, that is
You asked for it! You begged for it! Then you gave up! And now it's HERE!
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Ubuntu 14.10 tries pulling a Steve Ballmer on cloudy offerings
Oi, Windows, centOS and openSUSE – behave, we're all friends here
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.