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Apple releases Snow Leopard Graphics Update for Mac OS X 10.6

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 
Apple on Tuesday released Snow Leopard Graphics Update, a patch for Mac OS X 10.6 that is said to improve performance and reliability of popular titles like StarCraft II and Portal.

The 69.2MB update was released by Apple Tuesday afternoon. It is available from the company's support site, or via Software Update. It requires Mac OS X 10.6.4.

According to Apple, the software update contains performance and stability fixes for graphics applications, 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.
The update addresses framerate issues on the titles Portal and Team Fortress 2 for the late 2009 and mid 2010 iMac and Mac mini; early 2009 Mac Pro; early 2009 and mid 2010 MacBook; and mid-2010 MacBook Pro 15- and 17-inch models.

The update also resolves an image corruption issue that may occur when disconnecting and reconnecting external displays while the system is running.

Valve, the maker of Portal, Team Fortress 2 and the Steam gaming client for Mac, said in June that it was working with Apple to improve the performance of games running in Mac OS X. The company said that improved drivers from Apple would have the greatest impact on performance.

"We are making a lot of progress identifying specific issues that need work inside the game and inside OpenGL and drivers," Rob Barris of Valve said at the time. "Apple, ATI and Nvidia are all involved."
post #2 of 53
My mid-2007 MB Pro nVidia 8600GT had the update available. I wonder if these are WHQL certified?
post #3 of 53
does it fix the fatal screen flicker crash?!!?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvr4sVfZ8S0
post #4 of 53
STILL no OpenGL 3.3 support on 9400M/9600M! Funny that Nvidia has 3.3 drivers out for Windows -- WHERE IS THE MAC SUPPORT?!

OpenGL 3.0 is also STILL not fully supported!
post #5 of 53
Was all excited there for a moment, thought Starcraft was going to be faster. It needs a speed bump via graphics.
post #6 of 53
Very cool! That'll help with my brand spanking new iMac. I love updates that fix things and make performance better.
post #7 of 53
Snow Leopard performance is slightly better than Leopard .

Mac Pro, 8 Core, 32 GB RAM, nVidia GTX 285 1 GB, 2 TB storage, 240 GB OWC Mercury Extreme SSD, 30'' Cinema Display, 27'' iMac, 24'' iMac, 17'' MBP, 13'' MBP, 32 GB iPhone 4, 64 GB iPad 3

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Mac Pro, 8 Core, 32 GB RAM, nVidia GTX 285 1 GB, 2 TB storage, 240 GB OWC Mercury Extreme SSD, 30'' Cinema Display, 27'' iMac, 24'' iMac, 17'' MBP, 13'' MBP, 32 GB iPhone 4, 64 GB iPad 3

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post #8 of 53
Anyone done any before/after framerate comparisons, or is this going to be a year long project at Apple to improve performance and eventually get to OpenGL 4.1?
post #9 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple on Tuesday released Snow Leopard Graphics Update, a patch for Mac OS X 10.6 that is said to improve performance and reliability of popular titles like StarCraft II and Portal.


Apple is quickly becoming the hottest gaming platform on the market. I think that the console makers should be VERY nervous about now.
post #10 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

STILL no OpenGL 3.3 support on 9400M/9600M! Funny that Nvidia has 3.3 drivers out for Windows -- WHERE IS THE MAC SUPPORT?!

OpenGL 3.0 is also STILL not fully supported!

You can blame Apple for that.
post #11 of 53
Does anyone know if this is intended to fix the apparently widespread problem with unresponsive black screens on MBP 13" models?

http://discussions.apple.com/thread....readID=2538648
post #12 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by BenRoethig View Post

You can blame Apple for that.

You can blame Apple for the ridiculous performance gap between leopard and snow leopard, but drivers? Isn't that, like, Nvidia's responsibility?

iPhone 4S 64GB, Black, soon to be sold in favor of a Nokia Lumia 920
Early 2010 MacBook Pro 2.4GHz, soon to be replaced with a Retina MacBook Pro, or an Asus U500

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iPhone 4S 64GB, Black, soon to be sold in favor of a Nokia Lumia 920
Early 2010 MacBook Pro 2.4GHz, soon to be replaced with a Retina MacBook Pro, or an Asus U500

Reply
post #13 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by SendMe View Post

Apple is quickly becoming the hottest gaming platform on the market. I think that the console makers should be VERY nervous about now.

Apple? As in, Macs combined with iOS? Because maybe, maaayyyybe you have a point when combining all things Apple. But if you're talking about Macs, as much as I love them, when even the PC games market doesn't scare console makers, how in the WORLD would Macs scare them? Now OnLive on the other hand... if I was a console maker, THAT would scare the crap out of me.
post #14 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

My mid-2007 MB Pro nVidia 8600GT had the update available. I wonder if these are WHQL certified?

You're wondering if the Mac OS X 10.6.4 drivers are Windows Hardware Quality Labs certified?
post #15 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

My mid-2007 MB Pro nVidia 8600GT had the update available. I wonder if these are WHQL certified?

why on earth would that matter?

Mac gives no care to Windows Hardware Qualification Labs
post #16 of 53
I noticed it's graphics update version 1.0, does it mean we'll be seeing more of those in the future? Like Graphics update 1.1 etc. ? Is that going to be a new Apple habit? (A good one for sure)
post #17 of 53
doesnt help late 2008 macbook pro gaming ... fail. so i guess all my video games will be on my windows desktop ...
why couldnt they have left the graphics alone from 10.6.3/.... it actually worked...
post #18 of 53
I hope these become more frequent updates. I think we can all thank Valve for pushing Apple a little bit.
Tech Apocalypse - Battle for the Sky.
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Tech Apocalypse - Battle for the Sky.
Reply
post #19 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by techapocalypse View Post

I hope these become more frequent updates. I think we can all thank Valve for pushing Apple a little bit.

I hope they take OpenGL support more seriously.

-Chris
post #20 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post

You're wondering if the Mac OS X 10.6.4 drivers are Windows Hardware Quality Labs certified?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tjboucher View Post

why on earth would that matter?

Mac gives no care to Windows Hardware Qualification Labs

Wow...really? It was a joke.
post #21 of 53
I found that temporarily dropping the desktop screen resolution to 800x600, actually improves Starcraft 2's frame-rate drastically. Ran the game at 1920x1200.

I'm guessing MacOS uses up the video memory...

The game will still run at whatever resolution the game is set to, then you can set your desktop back to normal when you finish.
post #22 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukeskymac View Post

You can blame Apple for the ridiculous performance gap between leopard and snow leopard, but drivers? Isn't that, like, Nvidia's responsibility?

Perhaps, but you can't just download the latest drivers from Nvidia, you have Apple to thank for that, and you only get updates, if and when Apple feels like it, and only on HW they feel like supporting.

It's not just Nvidia GPU's that suffer, but also ATI - the current (and previous gen) of ATI GPU's are more than capable of handling Flash acceleration for example, and in Windows, they do. But in OSX, only 3 Nvidia GPU's are supported, the 9400, the 320, and 330.
post #23 of 53
9600M is supported too -- I had the MBP in Higher Performance 9600M mode and the white rectangle appeared for flash videos on the Gala beta...

Quote:
Originally Posted by guinness View Post

Perhaps, but you can't just download the latest drivers from Nvidia, you have Apple to thank for that, and you only get updates, if and when Apple feels like it, and only on HW they feel like supporting.

It's not just Nvidia GPU's that suffer, but also ATI - the current (and previous gen) of ATI GPU's are more than capable of handling Flash acceleration for example, and in Windows, they do. But in OSX, only 3 Nvidia GPU's are supported, the 9400, the 320, and 330.
post #24 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by SendMe View Post

Apple is quickly becoming the hottest gaming platform on the market. I think that the console makers should be VERY nervous about now.

Yeah, they must be real nervous about a patch to make a three year old game run properly
post #25 of 53
They DO, don't ya know?!

http://www.apple.com/macosx/what-is-...ics-media.html

NOT.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post

I hope they take OpenGL support more seriously.

-Chris
post #26 of 53
This update simply fixes whatever 10.6.4 screwed up in the first place. Graphics performance was far better on NVIDIA driven Macs with 10.6.3. Apple's support forums have a few threads on the matter:

http://discussions.apple.com/thread....readID=2510639

http://discussions.apple.com/thread....69518&tstart=0

There's even a thread on AI about it:

http://forums.appleinsider.com/showthread.php?t=110740

Very pleased to see that Apple dealt with this sooner rather than later. I'd been hoping 10.6.4 would include a fix till now. Thanks Apple!
post #27 of 53
to be fixed
post #28 of 53
So Apple fixes video performance with this update, but it leaves the NVidia CUDA control panel saying that an Update is Required that NVidia has not produced yet. At the rate it took NVidia to get the first formal version of CUDA divers out we may have to wait another year for their fix. Fortunately, my iMac's (early 2009) 9400M is crap for CUDA anyways so it will make no difference.
post #29 of 53
For the more technically minded folks here is a great rundown on exactly what changes are in the update. http://store.steampowered.com/news/4211/
"Slow vehicle speeds with frequent stops would signal traffic congestion, for instance."

uh... it could also signal that my Mom is at the wheel...
Reply
"Slow vehicle speeds with frequent stops would signal traffic congestion, for instance."

uh... it could also signal that my Mom is at the wheel...
Reply
post #30 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

STILL no OpenGL 3.3 support on 9400M/9600M! Funny that Nvidia has 3.3 drivers out for Windows -- WHERE IS THE MAC SUPPORT?!

OpenGL 3.0 is also STILL not fully supported!

3.0 isn't even complete so looking at 3.3 or 4.x is waste of time.

This does make me wonder about the apparent switch to ATI/AMD. Maybe they weren't as interested in the CPUs as some think and rather are expecting better support from ATI for GPU drivers.

I'm also interested in the development details. It was my understanding that much of the GPU driver work is done in house by Apple. However there are a lot of posts to the contrary. The general development structure would be interesting because you would think that much of the driver code would be similar to what is seen in Windows if the GPU vendors are involved.



Dave
post #31 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by SendMe View Post

Apple is quickly becoming the hottest gaming platform on the market. I think that the console makers should be VERY nervous about now.

Um... no. Apple is now a big player in casual mobile gaming, but has only begun the process of becoming relevant (not "the hottest") in the computer gaming market. Computer gaming is generally on a downward trend as developers opt to work on consoles instead. Blizzard is perhaps the only major computer game developer left; even though Valve clearly prefers the computer, they've been releasing games on consoles for a decade, and are taking steps to bring their console games to feature parity with their computer counterparts. Steamworks on PS3 via Portal 2 is the first step in that process.

Nintendo and Sony worry about Apple as a competitor in the portable space. They're worried about the iPhone and iPod Touch competing with the (3)DS(i) and PSP, not the iMac competing with the Wii or Playstation 3. Likewise, Nintendo and Sony don't consider Windows a competing platform: Microsoft has the Xbox 360 for that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm also interested in the development details. It was my understanding that much of the GPU driver work is done in house by Apple. However there are a lot of posts to the contrary. The general development structure would be interesting because you would think that much of the driver code would be similar to what is seen in Windows if the GPU vendors are involved.

My guess is that ATi and nvidia write drivers for OS X just as they do for Windows, but those drivers have historically taken a backseat to their efforts on Windows. More frequent releases, larger audience, greater demand, etc. The usual numbers game. It does appear that Apple works more closely with ATi and nvidia than Microsoft, however, but that's because Apple has specific requirements from their GPUs: emphasis on battery life, low ambient noise, low operating temperatures, etc. Microsoft has no such requirements and simply issues WHQL certification that the drivers won't screw up your OS install.

Apple deserves credit for finally starting to improve its stance on graphic prowess in general. Working with Adobe to enable GPU access for Flash, working closely with Valve, ATi, and nvidia to improve gaming performance, and more aggressively updating its GPU selections in Macs. Next step: better OpenGL support.
post #32 of 53
Currently I'm running an early 2008 MBP and actually like Snow Leopard. I think many people forget about the things that SL fixed and did so very well. For example i haven't had any WiFi issues since the arrival of SL.

However Apple is really dropping the ball here with respect to GPU drivers. First; perfornance improvements are important even on new hardware. The problem is not with old hardware though, Apple has really dropped the ball on GPU video acceleration for the new ATI cards. That is a performance regression for NEW hardware. Second; picking and choosing what to support out of OpenGL is bogus. The goal should be to deliver 100% of the functionality of each point release of OpenGL and other specs they support. I hate to use the phrase "dragging ones feet" but the development team needs to shift from shuffling ones feet to a nice jog.


Dave
post #33 of 53
Thanks for the link. Basically Steam is also WAITING FOR APPLE TO GET WITH THE PROGRAM, as they want both an OpenGL 3.0 & 3.1 feature which will improve performance.

I don't get why Apple didn't have this stuff ready for 10.6 -- which was SUPPOSED to be about PERFORMANCE. *AHEM*

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Beardsley View Post

For the more technically minded folks here is a great rundown on exactly what changes are in the update. http://store.steampowered.com/news/4211/
post #34 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Thanks for the link. Basically Steam is also WAITING FOR APPLE TO GET WITH THE PROGRAM, as they want both an OpenGL 3.0 & 3.1 feature which will improve performance.

I don't get why Apple didn't have this stuff ready for 10.6 -- which was SUPPOSED to be about PERFORMANCE. *AHEM*

Because unlike OpenGL on Windows, Apple uses OpenGL for system drawing tasks. This means that their implementation has to be stable or you get problems like those listed earlier in the thread. On Windows OpenGL is not used for system tasks, only for specific apps.

Also Apple writes a software fallback for all OpenGL calls so that if the gpu hardware doesn't support the function it can be done on the CPU and not just fail. Also their implementation has to cover the Intel GMA on the low end, to the more high performance parts for AMD and Nvidia.

Last Apple also has to wait on the vendors to provide drivers for the hardware. While the Mac has been seeing increasing marketshare, it is still a fraction of the size of Windows. I'm sure the graphics card companies give Windows drivers a higher priority since they comprise the majority of their sales.
"Slow vehicle speeds with frequent stops would signal traffic congestion, for instance."

uh... it could also signal that my Mom is at the wheel...
Reply
"Slow vehicle speeds with frequent stops would signal traffic congestion, for instance."

uh... it could also signal that my Mom is at the wheel...
Reply
post #35 of 53
Thanks to the graphics update, I can play Starcraft II once again, but now there is a pronounced screen-tearing effect when I scroll down in Safari on any web page. Wow.
post #36 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

3.0 isn't even complete so looking at 3.3 or 4.x is waste of time.

This does make me wonder about the apparent switch to ATI/AMD. Maybe they weren't as interested in the CPUs as some think and rather are expecting better support from ATI for GPU drivers.

I'm also interested in the development details. It was my understanding that much of the GPU driver work is done in house by Apple. However there are a lot of posts to the contrary. The general development structure would be interesting because you would think that much of the driver code would be similar to what is seen in Windows if the GPU vendors are involved.



Dave

OpenGL 3.0 was released in July, 2008. That's over 2 years ago. 3.1 come out in early 2009, 3.2 in late 2009. I can give Apple some slack for what came out a year ago, but July 2008 is before SL.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenGL#OpenGL_3.0

OpenGL 3.3 is a backport of as many 4.0 features that will work on older HW, and came out this past March (along with 4.0) and if OpenGL 3.x isn't complete as you say, then ATI must have written dummy extensions, as I have all of them, up through 4.0 on my PC, and they just released updated beta OpenCL 1.1 drivers the other day.

ATI and Nvidia keep on top of these extensions, they have to, as they are the ones building the HW around the OpenGL/Direct X specs.

If you could just download OSX-specific drivers from Nvidia/ATI, and they weren't releasing them, I would say blame them, but Apple is the only one that releases them. ATI rolls out a new driver for Windows every month or two.
post #37 of 53
Please, God, make this Graphics Update solve my huge problem where the graphics extensions on my four-month-old MacBook Pro have been causing kernel panics at least once or twice a week...

Oh, and I'd like to win the lottery too. Thanks.
post #38 of 53
Does this update come in white?
post #39 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by guinness View Post

If you could just download OSX-specific drivers from Nvidia/ATI, and they weren't releasing them, I would say blame them, but Apple is the only one that releases them. ATI rolls out a new driver for Windows every month or two.

Two points here.

1. You assume that because Apple bundles driver updates with system updates like 10.6.4, that means Apple is writing their own drivers. Not true. All it means is that Apple is being supplied directly with the drivers, which they then bake into the update.

2. ATi releases new drivers once per month, but new releases aren't necessarily improved or better than previous releases. Recent Catalyst drivers have had problems with Crossfire, anti-aliasing in Starcraft 2, and aren't OpenCL certified, to name a few issues. Performance improvements aren't guaranteed, and when delivered are usually along the lines of a 2% improvement in one specific game on one specific GPU or GPU line, as opposed to an across the board improvement regardless of GPU generation or game.

Also, nvidia and ATi release their drivers independently because that's how hardware is supported in the Windows ecosystem. Microsoft doesn't push out new drivers over Windows Update, and they take the stance, rightly, that hardware support is the hardware vendor's problem. Apple takes the same stance, which is why they dictate driver releases on OS X.
post #40 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by guinness View Post

OpenGL 3.0 was released in July, 2008. That's over 2 years ago. 3.1 come out in early 2009, 3.2 in late 2009. I can give Apple some slack for what came out a year ago, but July 2008 is before SL.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenGL#OpenGL_3.0

OpenGL 3.3 is a backport of as many 4.0 features that will work on older HW, and came out this past March (along with 4.0) and if OpenGL 3.x isn't complete as you say, then ATI must have written dummy extensions, as I have all of them, up through 4.0 on my PC, and they just released updated beta OpenCL 1.1 drivers the other day.

ATI and Nvidia keep on top of these extensions, they have to, as they are the ones building the HW around the OpenGL/Direct X specs.

If you could just download OSX-specific drivers from Nvidia/ATI, and they weren't releasing them, I would say blame them, but Apple is the only one that releases them. ATI rolls out a new driver for Windows every month or two.

Nvidia's 3.3/4.x drivers are buggy as hell presently, both on Linux and Windows.

Nvidia 3.1 and 3.2 have quite a few bugs with Linux and Xorg.

Hell, here is the bulk of the Nvidia hardware that is OpenGL 4.x supported:

Quote:
7) What NVIDIA hardware will support OpenGL 4?

The new features in OpenGL 4 require a Fermi GPU. Thus OpenGL 4 is not supported on NV3x, NV4x, G7x, G8x nor GT2xx hardware. This means you need one of the following NVIDIA graphics accelerators to use OpenGL 4:
  • Quadro Plex 7000, Quadro 6000, Quadro 5000, Quadro 5000M, Quadro 4000
  • GeForce GTX 480, GeForce GTX 470, GeForce GTX 465, GeForce GTX 460

I don't see a single Mac, including the Mac Pro that supports that, minus the Quadro 4800 FX. The Quadro 5000 FX and 6000 FX are now out w/ zero Mac cards.

Since Nvidia and AMD are driving the bulk of the OpenGL specification and they still have a horde of bugs in their drivers around the spec they mainly write, compared to the maturity of OpenCL 1.0/1.1 that Apple designed the bulk of should not be a surprise that OpenCL would be more mature with Apple seeing as Apple didn't design the OpenGL specification.

Do I believe Apple needs to hire say a dozen OpenGL gurus? Yes. Does it change Nvidia's driver list? Only after Apple ramps up it's OpenGL staff.

I'd love to see a dozen cards to choose from, in the store for Apple Mac Pros. Or even four or six for the iMac. That would be sweet.

I just want them to get OpenGL 3.0/3.1/3.2/3.3 done as all major bottlenecks in games are solved w/ 3.x.

Then again, you won't see the performance improvements in the games, if they aren't OpenGL 3.x aware and optimized.
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