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Graphics Games Apple

Steam Prompts OS X Graphics Update 313

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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  • Vendors (Score:1, Interesting)

    by WilyCoder ( 736280 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:09PM (#33316666)

    This would be a non issue if apple would let the vendors (AMD, nVidia) write their own mac drivers.

    I believe the current situation dictates that Apple writes their own drivers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:14PM (#33316722)

    How about more hardware choice? and a mid tower?

    apple is trying to push games but the hardware is not there.

    a $800 mini system with no board video is not a gameing system.

    A $2500 system with a ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB GDDR5 is way to much cost can get systems with dual high end cards at that price and with 4-6gb of ram as well.

    a $1200 system with a ATI Radeon HD 4670 with 256MB is weak and a 21" screen does not help.

    $1,500.00 with ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB

    at lest that better then $1700 for a 27" screen with the same video card.

    $2000 for a system with ATI Radeon HD 5750 with 1GB and 27" screen? the 5750 not a top end card and having to drive a 27" screen is not good for gameing.

  • Re:Vendors (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:28PM (#33316860)

    That's fine, but then no bitching if performance sucks. A high performance graphics layer is required if you want high performance games. The CPU has to be able to get data to the GPU quickly and efficiently with minimal overhead to make good use of said GPU. If the implementation remains poor, then the performance will likewise.

    Also realize two additional things:

    1) With proper OS architecture, the graphics driver isn't a big problem. 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. The system just restarts the driver. The GPU still can halt the system of course, and piece of hardware can because they have DMA and if they go nuts can corrupt things, but the driver can't protect against that.

    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.

  • Re:Vendors (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @02:42PM (#33317034)

    Donno if its true, but it would seem like it ... and its a great trade off. Apple's nVidia drivers are about 3 billion times more reliable than anything nVidia itself has ever produced.

    I'm happy with my 'slow' graphic drivers as I've never noticed them being slow. Until Steam learns how to deal with case sensitive file systems I doubt Steam will ever be a problem for me.

    I play all sorts of stuff on my Mac and can't tell the difference between it and the Windows versions. I can say that the graphics update did seem to make my Mac run cooler while playing EVE Online but it doesn't seem to be any 'faster'.

    I can play EVE in Win7 with the latest WHLQ drivers and get random crashes. I can play EVE under OSX and it works flawlessly ... considering its using Cedaga to run under OSX I'm fairly confident that I'm happier in OSX than I am in Windows thanks to Apple.

    I don't know who, nor do I really care who makes my video card drivers, I do know that in MY experience, games in OSX are more reliable than they are in Windows.

  • Re:Valve... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:00PM (#33317270)

    You've already made them POSIX and OpenGL, you're 85% of the way there.

    More like 10%.

    This is the problem with Linux: What company in their right mind would port to the platform that is both hardest to develop for and has the smallest user base? xorg, driver issues, distro inconsistencies all make porting games to linux an absolute nightmare. A lot of fundamental changes need to be made to desktop linux before it will really be taken seriously by anyone but Id. John Carmack even came out and said that Rage wouldn't be commercially supported on Linux, and that they'd provide an executable and let people fend for themselves as far as actually getting it to run.

    Explain to me how micro-companies and nerds in their basements can write shit like Nexuiz, Penumbra, Tremulous, Urban Terror, Warsow, Flightgear, TORCS, Sauerbraten, etc. while the big guys can't seem to pull it off? Your argument and theirs is pure bunk. The only thing the big names do better is textures and single player campaigns neither of which have a damn thing to do with xorg, driver issues or distro inconsistencies.

  • Re:Valve... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mmaniaci ( 1200061 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:17PM (#33317490)
    Good idea, and they could even do it for just ONE distro (Ubuntu, obviously). They would get most of the viable Linux user base, and those that don't run Ubuntu could use the FOSS community to learn how to get Steam to work. The one thing about the Linux userbase thats different than Windows and OSX crowds is that they don't usually expect everything to work out of the box. A little hacking is actually quite fun, and theres always a tutorial somewhere online for whatever you want to do. This would not be difficult for Steam to pull off and they would be the first of their kind to cover The Big 3 (Win, OSX, Linux).

    One more quick thought: Canonical would probably jump on the dev team for this port in a heartbeat. I'm sure they would see the benefit of Steam games on their OS.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:32PM (#33317694) Homepage

    Apple fixed occlusion query in OpenGL, which matters when you're looking into a light source. Useful when sun near horizon in game. [steampowered.com] Nice, but no big deal.

  • Re:Vendors (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @03:34PM (#33317706) Journal

    That was due to the difference between Open Firmware on PPC Macs and BIOS on Windows boxes

    And the OpenFirmware stuff wasn't Mac specific. You could pull a graphics card from a PowerPC Mac and drop it into a Sun SPARC and have it work nicely. More importantly, you could buy an OpenFirmware card from Apple for about a third of what Sun would charge for exactly the same hardware.

  • Re:True. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jythie ( 914043 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @04:42PM (#33318542)
    Depends on which univ you are talking. The one I am at, people who fall out of the MBA programs would not be likely to surive even the first year of the engineering program, if they could even get into the dept in the first place.

    *sigh* I am constantly frustrated by the 'if someone likes a mac, they must have been manipulated into it' meme. Most of the students (undergrad, masters, and PhD) student I know with macs use them because they are low maintenance and good for getting work done. They are good solutions for their situations and tasks... esp among the PhD students who really just do need a computer that works, lets them do their research, and does not burn time with fiddling or maintenance. Mac can be very good for that group.
  • Re:True. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday August 20, 2010 @04:49PM (#33318636) Homepage Journal

    Na. I've seen intrend away from that type od student.

    OSX is a good choice for engineering. There is a lot of power there.

    Why do I doubt you know all those student well enough to make the determination? or right, your post is chalk full of Ad Hom fallacy.

  • by cstacy ( 534252 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @05:29PM (#33319146)
    Ever since the last system update from Apple, none of my Macs (laptops or desktops) have been able to run various graphics programs without crashing. It would crash the entire windowserver process, killing the desktop and all running apps!

    This latest update for graphics has fixed that bug.

    I notice that Apple never seems to have acknowledged the bug, despite people screaming in the support forums, and that the System Update doesn't mention that it's obtw fixing a total showstopper that has plagued many users for the last 6 weeks on all platforms - nothing to do with the games cited.

  • Um, it's called SDL. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Pizza ( 87623 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @05:40PM (#33319282) Homepage Journal

    SimpleDirectMedia Layer. (http://www.libsdl.org/)

    With SDL, you can do 2D, 3D (via OpenGL), Sound, Input, and basic video overlay. It supports well over a dozen platforms, including consoles.

    GPU-accelerated video decoding isn't supported/exported, but that's not part of DirectX.
    SDL even has a Networking layer too, but it's not part of the core. (Actually DirectPlay is deprecated, and its replacement isn't part of DirectX either)

  • by EXTomar ( 78739 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @05:50PM (#33319386)

    Do you have evidence or example behavior/feature that shows that OSX doesn't have a very fast 3D layer? Otherwise the most damning thing about OSX graphics engine is that it isn't DirectX. That isn't better or worse but simply different.

  • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @09:02AM (#33323358)
    Besides the obvious evidence of people with MAC's dual booting and running the same games on both OSX and Windows on the same hardware and getting significantly better frame rates on Windows...

    The simple fact of the matter is that OpenGL is not the same interface paradigm as modern DirectX. In the early days of Direct3D they were quite similar, but eventually Direct3D evolved to have two different rendering paradigms.. one called Immediate Mode (like OpenGL) and one called Retained Mode.

    Now, Immediate Mode is a lower level interface to the hardware than Retained Mode is, and that in fact Retained Mode is implemented as a layer on top of Immediate Mode. OpenGL does immediate mode better than Direct3D's immediate mode, but as it turns out that doesnt actually matter in trms of modern game rendering pipelines.

    What Microsoft has done with this Retained Mode is encompassed many optimizations, and its all centered around queuing up many rendering calls that make up a scene frame. It can then issues large batches of rendering commands to the video hardware all it once, grouping similarly textured/shadered polygons together, as well as geometry that uses the same transformation matrix, etc.. so that the state of the GPU (shaders, texture sets, transformation matrices, etc..) needs to be updated less often than a visit-each-object-once Immediate Mode algorithm would have had to do.

    These state changes are expensive, often requiring the GPU to completely finish all other operations (flushing its own queue) before the state can be updated, greatly reducing parallelism. That visit-each-object-once algorithm in Immediate Mode could require 30,000 state changes while in retained mode that same visit-each-object-once algorithm only requires 5,000. As it turns out, this is a significant win that more than offsets the less efficient Immediate Mode.

    This could be implemented on top of OpenGL too, so OSX could certainly do it.. but the fact is that it hasnt been done all that well yet anywhere but DirectX and a few big-name ($$$) OpenGL-centric game engines that handle it themselves.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson