Originally posted by onlooker
Apples OpenGL driver isn't necessarily the Quadro Firmware either. Who is saying that the Quadro firmware in the 6800 anyway? Apple? I've never read that.
Um? Firmware and drivers are two completely different things
, so I don't really understand this. Firmware is low-level programmable logic that runs on the card itself. The driver is OS-specific software that runs on the PC. Firmware would control whether the card is little- or big-endian (on NVIDIA parts at least), which parts of the GPU are installed or enabled (they're configurable for OEM needs), and what the name and part number of the card are. The driver is the interface between the card and the operating system.
On PCs, the Quadro driver consists of the same basic driver that ships with the GeForce, a correct and complete (within reason) implementation of OpenGL, and the guarantee that the card and driver have been tested with various expensive pieces of hardware and software, and have been found to be compatible with them.
On Macs, the GeForce driver consists of the basic PC driver, which has been been ported to OS X by Apple engineers. OpenGL is built into the OS, so part of the port involves hooking the back of OS X's OpenGL engine to the driver itself. The only significant differences between this arrangement and a Quadro on the PC are: That the PC driver is certified by NVIDIA to work with sundry pieces of nice kit, and; if asked, the driver reports that the Mac card identifies itself as a "GeForce," not a "Quadro". The all-important OpenGL support is, if not identical, functionally equivalent.
But back to what you were saying about 3D software vendors enabling the code - what are the chances of Apple getting Nvidia, and Alias to enable the Quadro Drivers, and firmware for the Mac 6800 ULTRA DDL? I'm thinking it's slim.
Basically, what it comes down to is, how badly do the 3D app vendors want the Mac market, what are the odds of NVIDIA bringing the Quadro to the Mac market, and just how persuasive can Steve be? The middle question is particularly thorny, because NVIDIA (say) has to answer for themselves whether they want to give that all-important certification of compatibility to an implementation that they don't entirely control (because the OpenGL implementation is Apple's, and so is the port of the driver), or whether they want to take on the considerable
work and expense involved in porting their driver and OpenGL implementation
over themselves — and whether Apple would consider balkanization of Mac OpenGL support acceptable. Frankly, if I were in their shoes (and unless I'm missing something really big), I wouldn't bring the Quadro to the Mac either, at least not until demand reached enough of a pitch to make the considerable risk and investment worthwhile.
That leaves the 3D vendors. I think, given the reluctance of NVIDIA and ATI to commit their high-end solutions to the Mac market, and given a proven and significant revenue stream from Mac sales, that they would consider this course of action. They still risk pissing off the GPU vendors if the result is a significant chunk taken out of PC 3D workstation sales, but that adjustment just might have to be made. Also, 3D customers might have to swallow a lack of guaranteed compatibility (unless Apple or the 3D vendors are willing to take up the role of certifier) which some may be reluctant or unwilling to do.
Also to mention about the ATI 800xt thing. (in refrence to UT2K4 Performance with 9800xt's) From what information I've gathered about ATI, and OpenGL is that most PC Maya users contend that ATI openGL sucks. (at least with Maya) The Majority of Maya pro's have highly recommend the quadro.
I'll ask someone else with more low-level familiarity with the GPUs chime in here. I've heard that's actually a lack of hardware support in the GPU, not a driver problem. But ATI does their own Mac drivers, and their drivers for the Mac are as solid as their drivers for the PC are iffy, so I don't know how much any of this would carry over if I'm wrong and it is in fact a software problem.
If it's specifically a problem with ATI's OpenGL implementation, well, any software running on OS X will use Apple's OpenGL implementation, so that would become a non-issue on the Mac (unless Apple's
implementation comes up short, in which case it would just be a pervasive problem instead of something specific to ATI).