The Snow Leopard Graphics Update contains stability and performance fixes for graphics applications and games, including fixes that:
- address frame rate issues occurring in Portal and Team Fortress 2 on certain Macs
- resolve an issue that could cause Aperture 3 or StarCraft II to unexpectedly quit or become unresponsive
This is all good of course.
But come on Apple, how about one that..
- “increases your OpenGL number from 2.x to 3.0.”
Posted: August 18th, 2010
, os x
, os x
, Snow Leopard
Comments: View Comments
While the helping hand will only go out to developers planning to use the Steamworks community infrastructure, Valve’s business development director Jason Holtman claimed that coding for the graphics layer is “the real hard work in a making a Mac version.”
In order to expedite development of OSX-compatible games, “We’re going to release some of our graphics code for the GL layer,” Holtman said in an interview (to be published in full next week).
I’d be interested in taking a look at what they are offering, if I wasn’t committed to my own engines. But Valve certainly seem to be serious about giving both developers and consumers alike, the best experience they can.
New functionality in the core OpenGL 4.1 specification includes:
- Full compatibility with OpenGL ES 2.0 APIs for easier porting between mobile and desktop platforms;
- The ability to query and load a binary for shader program objects to save re-compilation time;
- The capability to bind programs individually to programmable stages for programming flexibility;
- 64-bit floating-point component vertex shader inputs for higher geometric precision;
- Multiple viewports for a rendering surface for increased rendering flexibility.
New ARB extensions introduced with OpenGL 4.1 include:
- OpenGL sync objects linked to OpenCL event objects for enhanced OpenCL interoperability;
- The ability to set stencil values in a fragment shader for enhanced rendering flexibility;
- Features to improve robustness, for example when running WebGL applications;
- Callback mechanisms to receive enhanced errors and warning messages.
It is simply crazy that Apple are still not even fully up to date with OpenGL3.0 in OS X yet. The features of OpenGL4.1 simply scream Apple and OS X.
One has to wonder if Apple is perhaps planning to skip OpenGL3.0 altogether?
The full spec is available in the OpenGL Registry.
Posted: July 27th, 2010
, OpenGL ES
Comments: View Comments
In a note on the Mac Steam games forum, a Valve employee delivered this promise, as spotted by MacRumors.
“Performance is going to improve as drivers are updated,” he writes. “I would expect modest improvements in short term and larger ones in longer term. No, I can’t put dates on them. We are making a lot of progress is identifying specific issues that need work inside the game and inside OpenGL and drivers. Apple, ATI and NVIDIA are all involved.”
This is good news. The simple truth is Apple need to embrace OpenGL 3.x.
Oh, and put more pressure on Intel to either abandon its IGP crusade, or open up its chip sets to people who actually know how to make GPUs.
I have to wonder if Apple’s strategy with the new Mac Minis is about more than just swish new desktops and Home Media systems…
Posted: June 15th, 2010
, Apple TV
Comments: View Comments
I am in a quandary about the iPhone’s new name…
iPhone 4G ?
Doesn’t make sense really because it’s unlikely to be running on a 4G network.
But then it is the 4th generation.
The next problem though is that it will be “speedy”, surely. So should it really be the iPhone 4GS?
iPhone HD ?
I don’t like this name. And it also has its own problems…
I assumed, like many did, that Apple would double the screen resolution from the original iPhone screen resolution of 320 x 480, to 640 x 960 for the next iteration of this device. This would then allow all the existing apps in the App Store to run “pixel doubled” on the new iPhone and fit the screen perfectly.
But then I hit a snag. All the iPad apps in the App Store are getting the HD suffix, and Apple is letting this happen. In fact they have encouraged it.
Surely HD as a name for the new iPhone will cause massive confusion for consumers who want to run their iPad HD apps on it. Apps which are designed for a 768 x 1024 resolution screen. Yet another disparity.
So potentially we have massive headache for Developers who now have three completely different native screen resolutions to work with, and perhaps have to rename all their apps – retrospectively!
I’m getting somewhat off the topic of the iPhone’s new name here. But Apple’s hardware decision for the new iPhone’s screen is potentially a real issue for app developers, as well as having relevance to the name. Bear with me…
So, then it hit me…
What if Apple can squeeze a 768 x 1024 LCD panel into the new iPhone?
And what if they use this new chip from Imagination Technologies, the company behind all the GPUs in iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch :
The capabilities of this new GPU make for some really interesting reading :
New features in POWERVR SGX545 include:
- DirectX10.1 API support
- Enhanced support for DirectX10 Geometry Shaders
- DirectX10 Data assembler support (Vertex, primitive and instance ID generation)
- Render target resource array support
- Full arbitrary non power of two texture support
- Full filtering support for F16 texture types
- Support for all DirectX10 mandated texture formats
- Sampling from unresolved MSAA surfaces
- Support for Gamma on output pixels
- Order dependent coverage based AA (anti-aliased lines)
- Enhanced line rasterisation
SGX545 was also designed to deliver full profile OpenCL 1.0 capabilities, with advanced features including:
- Support of round-to-nearest for floating-point math
- Full 32-bit integer support (includes add, multiply and divide)
- 64-bit integer emulation
- 3D texture support
- Support for the maximum 2D and 3D image sizes specified in the full profile.
One thing this GPU is definitely capable of delivering is HD video. Real HD video. It would also go rather well in the next version of the iPad too.
It’s also OpenCL capable. Was there a clue at the iPhone OS 4.0 “Sneak Peak” when Apple started talking about support for a Hardware Accelerated Maths API?
If, and it’s a big if, which also brings its own issues. But if Apple were to shoe horn this all in the “iPhone HD” then they would have a killer device. A game changing device. A true console in your hand. And something which plays to the other media aspirations the we believe Apple may have for the living room.
The obvious problem though, is that they still have an issue with iPad apps. Both with regards to the name of the iPhone ‘HD’, and the physical size of the iPhones screen. I am not convinced people will be able to use apps designed for the iPad’s screen size on a screen of a similar resolution but the smaller physical size we expect in an iPhone. Stuff is going to be really tiny!
640 x 960 is one hell of a resolution jump for a new phone, giving a DPI of around 325. Double that of the current iPhone. It will make text incredibly smooth. Almost the quality of laser printed text on paper. But small unless it’s scaled in some way.
Increasing that resolution further to 768 x 1024 compounds that problem. Not to mention the manufacturing issues of that increase in screen component size.
Having said all that. If we assume for a moment that Apple are going to put a 768 x 1024 LCD panel into the new iPhone, it would seem likely that they might perhaps go with some kind of pixel scaling arrangement in iPhone OS. Perhaps in a later iteration of iPhone OS 4.x. We’ve already heard there are several distinct point iterations of iPhone OS 4.x inside Apple.
With the extra processing power that comes with this new GPU, we can perhaps expect some OS based features which will start to allow a more fluid arrangement of screen layout.
Resolution independence if you like….
This is all supposition on my part. But some of it makes sense, doesn’t it?
Posted: April 20th, 2010
, Technical Specs
Comments: View Comments