Apple introduces Metal for Mac, promises huge leap in graphics performance

Posted:
in macOS edited June 2015
At WWDC on Monday, Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi announced Metal for Mac, which combines the power of OpenCL and graphics crunching capability of OpenGL into a unified API that reduces draw rendering times by 50 percent.




First introduced as a feature in iOS 8, Metal is a core-level graphics technology that allows developers nearly untethered access to system GPU hardware for highly efficient processing. Metal for Mac works almost identically to its iOS counterpart, as developers can stack on apps on core animation and core graphics, as well as built-in OpenGL and OpenCL API support.




The addition of Metal holds obvious implications for games, apps that are traditionally graphics intensive. Epic Games demoed an upcoming zombie/survival title built on Metal, showing dynamic shaders and other impressive realtime animations.




Apple notes performance advantages can be found in any graphics-intensive app. For example, Adobe found huge improvements by stacking After Effects and Illustrator on Metal.

Metal is bundled into OS X El Capitan, which was made available to developers today.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    robertcrobertc Posts: 118member
    What advantage would Metal on OS X have over Vulkan?
  • Reply 2 of 26
    jexusjexus Posts: 373member

    Feeling like 1994 again in here with yet another API being thrown in.

  • Reply 3 of 26
    mrshowmrshow Posts: 152member
    I sure hope Blizzard jumps on this quick.
  • Reply 4 of 26
    "What advantage would Metal on OS X have over Vulkan?" -- robertc

    It exists...where as Vulcan Drivers for OS X may not ever exist.
    Apple might abandon OpenGL improvements in favor of Metal - just like Microsoft abandoned OpenGL for DirectX. It's a slimy trick to keep developers on your platform.
  • Reply 5 of 26
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,354member
    I wonder of FCPro X and Motion X gain anything or if they will in the near future and I also would like to know how this plays with the dual GPU Mac Pro. It would be nice to see the new Mac Pro become a serious gaming machine.
  • Reply 6 of 26
    drunkzombiedrunkzombie Posts: 169member
    I don't know much about games in general, but I don't feel like that game really showed how great metal is, it's basically plant vs zombies 3D.
  • Reply 7 of 26
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,860member
    robertc wrote: »
    What advantage would Metal on OS X have over Vulkan?

    Whats Vulkan?

    Seriously though if the OpenGL group can only get its act together after most of the industry says good by, It really doesn't say much good about Vulkan.
  • Reply 8 of 26
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,860member
    "What advantage would Metal on OS X have over Vulkan?" -- robertc

    It exists...where as Vulcan Drivers for OS X may not ever exist.
    I would imagine Apple will need an OpenGL layer for just about forever as some programs won't give it up either because of legacy software or the desire to be platform independent. That is OpenGL though, I'm not sure vulcan has much of a future at all, it smacks of a reaction to everyone giving up and going their own way.
    Apple might abandon OpenGL improvements in favor of Metal - just like Microsoft abandoned OpenGL for DirectX. It's a slimy trick to keep developers on your platform.

    Nothing slimy at all about this. Further most developers would be writing to higher level Apple libraries (API's) anyways
  • Reply 9 of 26
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Doesn't Metal require dedicated hardware? Which Macs are going to get Metal support?

  • Reply 10 of 26
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    I wonder of FCPro X and Motion X gain anything...

    Theoretically, you could have 60+ layers with effects and view it in real time without rendering, similar to what was demoed in the keynote. 

  • Reply 11 of 26
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,173member

    Awesome. This is the kind of thing that gets pushed through to Mac because of innovations with iOS and mobile. 

  • Reply 12 of 26
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,228moderator
    wizard69 wrote: »
    Apple might abandon OpenGL improvements in favor of Metal - just like Microsoft abandoned OpenGL for DirectX. It's a slimy trick to keep developers on your platform.

    Nothing slimy at all about this. Further most developers would be writing to higher level Apple libraries (API's) anyways

    Games developers would be using SDKs. That makes it easier because they handle the lower-level code:

    https://wiki.unrealengine.com/Metal_Rendering_API
    http://blogs.unity3d.com/2014/07/03/metal-a-new-graphics-api-for-ios-8/

    Unity says they have the largest marketshare:

    https://unity3d.com/public-relations

    1000

    1000

    Some bigger developers have their own engines but they have the resources to support other APIs like Metal. Frostbite (proprietary to EA) for example was shown using Metal:

    http://www.frostbite.com/2014/11/frostbite-tech-demo-battlefield-4-on-ios/

    This engine is used for Battlefield 3:


    [VIDEO]


    [VIDEO]


    and it will be used for the upcoming Mass Effect 4 and Star Wars Battlefront (http://starwars.ea.com/starwars/battlefront ):


    [VIDEO]


    It'll be a few years before mobile devices can reach that quality but at least Metal can help them target every platform and just scale down the textures and shaders but maintaining more of the objects on-screen. The next iOS devices in September will exceed the last-gen consoles. That Star Wars game is for next-gen and out in November. It would be pretty cool to have a game like that launch on iOS but it'll be way too big in size. PC games are going past 50GB now and the Mac doesn't have the marketshare to be treated as a tier 1 platform. Mobile devices will eventually get high-end games. I could see something like Battlefield 3 and 4 coming to iOS as well as other games that made it to the last-gen consoles. The console developers will wait for the fastest hardware to be adopted. By the time the 7S arrives, there will be probably over 1 billion mobile devices somewhere between last-gen and next-gen consoles and only 1/10th of that on the major consoles.
  • Reply 13 of 26
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 580member
    From the sound of things audio programs may be able to benefit from Metal as well.
  • Reply 14 of 26
    ctmike78ctmike78 Posts: 21member
    Another brick on the road to Ax based Macs...
  • Reply 15 of 26
    joshuarayerjoshuarayer Posts: 151member
    And here I thought Apple icons couldn't get any more lazy and boring
  • Reply 16 of 26
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,057member

    So which GPUs will support Metal? On iOS, the A5 doesn't support it for instance, so not every mac compatible with 10.11 may support Metal.  

     

    And in that case, I wonder what happens to the performance improvements, since most seemed hinged on that. 

  • Reply 17 of 26
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RobertC View Post



    What advantage would Metal on OS X have over Vulkan?

    We don't have both in place to compare, so anything is speculative.  If Vulkan actually materialized as something stable, it would probably be the popular option due to being cross-platform.

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post





    Whats Vulkan?



    Seriously though if the OpenGL group can only get its act together after most of the industry says good by, It really doesn't say much good about Vulkan.

    You mean Khronos? Apple is actually part of that group. They're listed as one of the contributors, but I don't know whether that is just marketing of their affiliation with Khronos or they are actually on board with it.

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post





    I would imagine Apple will need an OpenGL layer for just about forever as some programs won't give it up either because of legacy software or the desire to be platform independent. That is OpenGL though, I'm not sure vulcan has much of a future at all, it smacks of a reaction to everyone giving up and going their own way.

    Nothing slimy at all about this. Further most developers would be writing to higher level Apple libraries (API's) anyways



    It may have been under development before this where the reaction was the announcement itself. It appears as if a lot of the efforts came from AMD's Mantle.

  • Reply 18 of 26
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Out of all the realistic games that run on Epic's engine, they show off a cartoony one.

    This didn't demo Metal well at all.
  • Reply 19 of 26
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member

    Ever since (Mac) OS X came out in 2001 it has had OpenGL, and PC games ported across have not been able to run as fast as DirectX on the PC.

     

    My hope if that Metal will evolve in to "Apple's DirectX," and as Mac porting houses and Game Engine vendors adopt it, we will see ported across games run at equal speed to a Windows PC with equivalent hardware. Especially since DirectX 12 is a low-level API also, so hopefully Metal and DX12 will have a very close mapping.

  • Reply 20 of 26
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ascii View Post

     

    Ever since (Mac) OS X came out in 2001 it has had OpenGL, and PC games ported across have not been able to run as fast as DirectX on the PC.


    OpenGL on OSX has also been outperformed by OpenGL on Windows in recent years. Their support for it over the past few years has been terrible, so it's not a very high bar. I kind of wonder if they borrowed from AMD and Mantle on this one. Interestingly Khronos still lists Apple as a working group participant for Vulkan (bottom of the page), which was announced under a different name just a bit before Metal, although they only started using the name Vulkan this year.

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