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Graphics Games Apple

Steam Prompts OS X Graphics Update 313

Posted by Soulskill
from the like-opening-a-valve dept.
Stoobalou writes "Mac gamers got a massive boost when online gaming hub Steam started supporting the platform a few months ago. The arrival of the online service, which allowed Mac-toting gamers to play some of the same games as their PC brethren, in some cases cross-platform, created a great deal of debate between the two camps, with the PC crowd pillorying Mac fans for the relatively poor performance of their expensive hardware. Now it seems that Apple has gotten the message, as they have provided a graphics update for OS X Snow Leopard which will make progress toward closing the gap between the two platforms."
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Steam Prompts OS X Graphics Update

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  • Re:Vendors (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:18PM (#33316744)

    No this is not true... AMD and Nvidia write the hardware facing aspects of their respective graphics drivers and work with Apple on various other aspects. Apple writes the common OpenGL core, etc. AMD+Apple teams and Nvidia+Apple teams are really what exist... this is a good thing and close to what MS has with these vendors

    Apple does however qualify and release these drivers via their update channels (not that Nvidia and others haven't release updates of their own at various points).

  • Re:Vendors (Score:5, Informative)

    by Thinine (869482) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:18PM (#33316750)
    Nope, nVidia and AMD both write their own drivers. Apple supplies the OpenGL implementation. This fix was a combination of updated drivers and refinements to Apple's OpenGL to increase performance.
  • by dbet (1607261) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:30PM (#33316880)
    Regardless of the non-state of the art of their vid cards, the same cards are (or were) running better when booting Windows on the same computer than under OSX. Hopefully they've fixed this.
  • Re:Vendors (Score:2, Informative)

    by TheRedDuke (1734262) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:34PM (#33316916)
    Apple is the only major desktop manufacturer that doesn't have a user-accessible PCIe x16 slot in at least one of their entry and/or mid-range models.
  • Re:Vendors (Score:3, Informative)

    by EvanED (569694) <evaned@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:34PM (#33316928)

    2) nVidia in particular but ATi as well are real good at writing drivers. They don't crash much, if ever. They are not going to be our source of instability.

    Wait, what changed in the last couple years? Last I heard, graphics drivers were a very substantial cause of Windows crashes. This article [engadget.com] says nVidia + ATI together was over 1/3 of reported crashes, and nVidia was responsible for 1.5 times the number of crashes that MS was.

    Was that just a temporary situation caused by Vista's release? Or maybe things were different in the XP era when it was easier for a driver to crash a system?

  • Re:Vendors (Score:5, Informative)

    by DurendalMac (736637) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:45PM (#33317070)
    Um, no. That was due to the difference between Open Firmware on PPC Macs and BIOS on Windows boxes. There has never been any kind of "restriction" as there was even a dual firmware 9600 made by ATI that worked in both G5s and Windows boxes. Then it was due to the difference between EFI and BIOS. Even though Apple implemented BIOS compatibility in EFI not long after the Intel Macs came out, OS X still talked directly to EFI, so a standard PC card still wouldn't work without either flashing the ROM or, as we have now, software hacks to get OS X to recognize it.
  • Re:Vendors (Score:3, Informative)

    by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:45PM (#33317074) Homepage Journal

    "That's generally true of all laptops."

    Not even close. MXM has been in multiple laptop models. It's what's labeled/advertised as 'discrete' graphics.

  • Re:Valve... (Score:3, Informative)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:46PM (#33317100) Homepage
    I used to play Portal under WINE. I don't know if that's a good enough solution for you.
  • It's linked to from TFA but Valve's technical article Game Performance Improvements in Latest Mac OS X Update [steampowered.com] gives a lot of insight into the OS X driver situation.

    Personally, I have a MacBook Pro with a NVIDIA 9600 chip. I was kind of disappointed when I got StarCraft II. I had to run on one of the lowest resolutions with medium defaults. Increasing any setting made the game close to unplayable when complex graphics were being displayed (such as the lava level). Then I updated the graphics drivers. I was able to bump to the highest supported resolution and bumped the graphic settings to high defaults without noticeable slowdowns. I had to go to the ultra defaults before I started getting slowdowns and warnings.

    I haven't had a chance to really sit down with it and play for an extended time (damn real life...) but there certainly is a huge improvement. The urge to upgrade is fading...

  • Re:Vendors (Score:3, Informative)

    by beelsebob (529313) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:53PM (#33317194)

    Just for reference, the EFI thing is only true of the primary card now. You can happily stick a PC graphics card in the second PCI-e slot, and OS X will detect and use it fine.

    Hopefully as intel pushes to move all PCs over to EFI, the problem will disappear as more cards become EFI based or dual firmware, but that'll take a while.

  • by beelsebob (529313) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:58PM (#33317248)

    The screens Apple uses are IPS LED backlit panels that are better and more expensive than what dell uses.

    No they're not, the U2711 is the exact same monitor as is in the iMac... However, that makes the 27" iMac not too badly priced, given that Dell sells that monitor for $1099, and the iMac is $1699... Hell, you can even get a refurb for $1269... so that's $170 for a damn fast Core2Duo system.

  • Re:Vendors (Score:5, Informative)

    by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:59PM (#33317258)

    2) nVidia in particular but ATi as well are real good at writing drivers. They don't crash much, if ever. They are not going to be our source of instability.

    I seem to recall a report from Microsoft not too long ago - drawn from the automated error reporting in Windows - showing that video card drivers are, by far, the single biggest cause of system instability.

  • Re:Vendors (Score:5, Informative)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:21PM (#33317538)

    Windows 7 runs it all in user mode (you don't have to reboot when you install a driver) so a crash isn't a big deal.

    Uhm, live kernel driver updates is something windows has done since Windows 2000. 99.9% of the time in Windows XP can have its graphics drivers update on the fly and work fine if you just ignore the 'you must reboot' button.

    The drivers are kernel mode, they always have been, they always will be, unless you want them to be slow as molasses due to the userland/kerneland context switching thats required.

    Rebooting is not required to modify kernel drivers. Its as simple as issuing 'net stop' and 'net start' commands (or using the API for the same purpose) with the NT kernel. I know, I do it, I've written Windows kernel drivers.

    2) nVidia in particular but ATi as well are real good at writing drivers. They don't crash much, if ever. They are not going to be our source of instability.

    What world do you live on?

    ATI has some of the shittiest most unreliable drivers on the freaking planet.

    nVidia gives you a 50/50 chance of getting a good version that works reliably without a bunch of bugs. Half the time you score, the other half the time you're falling back to an older version of some sort so your games don't crash or your machine bluescreen anymore.

    I'm not really sure where you get your information from, but you probably should not use that source anymore.

  • Re:Vendors (Score:3, Informative)

    by initdeep (1073290) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:22PM (#33317566)

    No.
    It was based upon data gathered via error reports and sent to MS automatically and was in reference to the OEM and Retail release of Windows Vista.

    And yes, the GPU companies had PLENTY of time to write new drivers and test them, they just didnt make very wise use of it.

    This is also why the problems have slowed down considerably since the release of Windows 7.
    It uses the same driver architecture as Vista for the most part making the creation of Drivers for Win 7 a much less painful process resulting in more stable driver releases.
    However, Both ATI and Nvidia still have issues from time to time in their releases.

    A quick look at any HTPC forum will show the problems they both tend to have.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:26PM (#33317608) Journal
    Irrelevant, since the comparison is between a Mac running OS X, and the same Mac booting Windows.
  • Re:Vendors (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:30PM (#33317682) Journal

    The drivers are kernel mode, they always have been

    Not true. They weren't with Windows NT 3.x, for stability reasons. They were moved into the kernel with NT 4 because people complained about the performance. They've been complaining about the stability ever since. I ran NT4 and NT5 (Win2K, from back when it was NT5 beta 2 until several service packs after the release) and the only time either of them blue screened was in drivers written by Creative, ATi, or nVidia.

  • Re:Vendors (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:50PM (#33317906)

    I'm glad you're having a great time playing EVE, but I don't think a seven year old game is really relevant to a discussion of the state of the art of graphics cards for gaming. Even a year or two is a long time in the world of graphics cards -- seven years is an eternity.

  • Re:True. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Americano (920576) on Friday August 20, 2010 @04:10PM (#33318142)

    Many people are technophobic. Don't want to plug in a motherboard, don't want viruses & malware

    Are you suggesting that one must be a technophobe to "not want viruses and malware"? :)

    The stuff you've listed isn't about "technophobia," it's about "not wanting to spend several hours a week dicking with settings &/or virus scans on your computer." One need not be a technophobe to have things other than building their own computer rigs that they'd rather be doing.

  • by MrHanky (141717) on Friday August 20, 2010 @04:11PM (#33318150) Homepage Journal

    Sorry, but you're a delusional fanboy and a liar. The only Mac to approach high end graphics is the Mac Pro. If your laptop is a Mac, it doesn't run Crysis well, period.

  • Re:True. (Score:5, Informative)

    by smidget2k4 (847334) on Friday August 20, 2010 @05:20PM (#33319016)
    This is precisely why I own a Mac laptop. I'm a graduate student in CS, and with my Macbook as my primary work computer, I need a *nix compatible operating system but don't have time to dick around for 2 days getting an Xserver working with a new graphics card (though Ubuntu has made this a late easier than a few years ago). I have a cheapo desktop PC/server that I use for that.

    Using Windows would be almost impossible for any serious computing when all high performance clusters I've come in contact with at various universities use Linux or Solaris and I need to test the code locally before launching a job. Desktop Linux, up until recently, was an unstable option.

    (Note: I do now own a netbook with Ubuntu 10.04 UNR on it and it is a pleasure to use for writing in a coffee shop or somewhere I'm not guaranteed a power outlet).
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday August 20, 2010 @08:34PM (#33320602)

    That you take StarCraft 2 or Portal and run them on OS-X, then reboot that same system in to Windows 7 and the games run better.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo. - Andy Finkel, computer guy

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