Valve: Left 4 Dead 2 Runs Faster on Linux than Windows 7

One of the prevailing theories as to why Linux isn't more widely adopted is because of games support. Sure, you can play games on Linux systems, and a good many of them when you factor in WINE and the such, but Windows is still more widely supported. Regardless of that being the case, Valve says it's able to get Left 4 Dead 2 to run faster on Ubuntu than on a Windows 7 system.

We won't get into Valve's crazy talk that Windows 8 will utterly destroy PC gaming as we know it, but suffice to say, the developer is currently hard at work porting its Steam platform over to Linux. Valve has been testing Left 4 Dead 2 on a system running a 32-bit version of Ubuntu 12.04, and at first, it was only able to pull 6 frames per second. You read that right -- a measly SIX. Frames. Per. Second.

Valve said this type of performance was typical of an initial successful port to a new platform, and after a bit of tweaking, L4D2 managed 315 FPS on the Linux test bed. That's far more encouraging, and it's even faster than what Valve benchmarked on a 64-bit Windows 7 system, which managed 270.6 FPS.

Left 4 Dead 2

While that seems "counter-intuitive, given the greater amount of time" Valve has spent on Windows, "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," Valve said.

The underlying reason why this is happening has to do with overhead, or so Valve theorizes.

"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," Valve explains. "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."

In any event, what Valve is doing is great for the Linux community, and it's having positive side effects for Windows, too, even if Valve's reason for doing this in the first place is severely flawed.