With eGPU and virtual reality support in High Sierra, Valve launches SteamVR for macOS

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Alongside the debut of the first macOS High Sierra beta on Monday, Valve launched its own first beta of SteamVR for the Mac, giving early testers the ability to sample virtual reality experiences on compatible Macs.




For years, as VR has slowly grown on PC platforms, Apple's Mac lineup was kept out, due to a lack of powerful graphics cards in the company's mobile devices. But that's all set to change with macOS 10.13, dubbed High Sierra, which will include support for external graphics cards over Thunderbolt 3.

SteamVR for Mac is now available to test for users who have the first High Sierra developer seed installed. According to Valve, SteamVR for Mac offers the same 360-degree, room-scale tracking as Windows and Linux variants.

In addition, Apple is also selling developers a $600 External Graphics Development Kit to develop and test demanding graphics-intensive apps, including VR content creation, on any Mac with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. The product includes a Sonnet external GPU chassis with Thunderbolt 3 and 350-watt power supply, AMD Radeon RX 580 8-gigabyte graphics cards, Belkin USB-C to 4-port USB-A hub, and a promo code for $100 towards the purchase of an HTC Vive VR headset.




The HTC Vive is Valve's preferred VR hardware, developed by the company in cooperation with HTC. The headset is designed to offer "room scale" technology, turning a room into a virtual world via 3D sensors -- capabilities demonstrated by Industrial Light and Magic in the form of a "Star Wars" VR game at Monday's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote.

Immediate support for SteamVR, as well as the $100 credit for HTC Vive, indicate that Apple and Valve forged a partnership prior to Monday's announcement. Facebook's Oculus Rift is also supported on SteamVR, but the competing hardware was not mentioned at the WWDC keynote.

It should be noted that while external GPUs via Thunderbolt 3 will enable support for virtual reality, the graphics enhancements can also be experienced with an external monitor. Apple's notes to developers make it clear, however, that the External Graphics Development Kit does not accelerate the internal Retina display on an iMac or MacBook Pro.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,556member
    And I thought they weren't interested in VR – at all. 




  • Reply 2 of 11
    DonvermoDonvermo Posts: 61member
    Rayz2016 said:
    And I thought they weren't interested in VR – at all. 




    I believe Apple just wasn't as enthusiastic about it as AR, AR is something they would want to develop themselves, VR doesn't seem to be.
    That being said I suppose Apple was aware it needed to bridge the gap for the 'upgradable pro computer' while they finished up work on the new macPro so they decided to support external plugins through thunderbolt, this in turn seemed like a good opportunity to embrace VR on mac for Valve as the GPU options would no longer be limited.
    edited June 2017 cali
  • Reply 3 of 11
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,998member
    Hidden in all this is surely another truth, I see no reason that non-VR gaming cannot come to Mac now either.  The likes of GTA V etc. would surely fly on Metal 2 on a modern Mac. 
  • Reply 4 of 11
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 6,828member
    MacPro said:
    Hidden in all this is surely another truth, I see no reason that non-VR gaming cannot come to Mac now either.  The likes of GTA V etc. would surely fly on Metal 2 on a modern Mac. 
    as a recovering PC gamer, this is appealing to me. i load boot camp once in a while to play some games with friends, but knowing that my choices are limited. if this changes that, i'm in. 
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 5 of 11
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,998member
    MacPro said:
    Hidden in all this is surely another truth, I see no reason that non-VR gaming cannot come to Mac now either.  The likes of GTA V etc. would surely fly on Metal 2 on a modern Mac. 
    as a recovering PC gamer, this is appealing to me. i load boot camp once in a while to play some games with friends, but knowing that my choices were limited. if this changes that, i'm in. 
    Here's hoping ... and I am not recovering ;)  I boot regularly onto an external pair of SSDs (C for OS D for Steam) over USB3 in a dock from my 2013 6 core Mac Pro to run Windows 10 Anniversary just to play games on Steam.  Great thing with Steam is if some of these high end game companies do release Steam Mac versions it's free to us if we already own them for PC.  Tip, Bootcamp run externally is pretty cool and saves messing up your Mac's internal.  Easy to clone these things too for when Windows inevitably craps out.
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 6 of 11
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 6,828member
    MacPro said:
    MacPro said:
    Hidden in all this is surely another truth, I see no reason that non-VR gaming cannot come to Mac now either.  The likes of GTA V etc. would surely fly on Metal 2 on a modern Mac. 
    as a recovering PC gamer, this is appealing to me. i load boot camp once in a while to play some games with friends, but knowing that my choices were limited. if this changes that, i'm in. 
    Here's hoping ... and I am not recovering ;)  I boot regularly onto an external pair of SSDs (C for OS D for Steam) over USB3 in a dock from my 2013 6 core Mac Pro to run Windows 10 Anniversary just to play games on Steam.  Great thing with Steam is if some of these high end game companies do release Steam Mac versions it's free to us if we already own them for PC.  Tip, Bootcamp run externally is pretty cool and saves messing up your Mac's internal.  Easy to clone these things too for when Windows inevitably craps out.
    That's a pretty good idea. I currently have a partition for BC, but could pick up another TB SSD drive just for it since it's somewhat rare for me these days. And it may even get backed up by Backblaze which covers my existing TB SSD external drive...
  • Reply 7 of 11
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Rayz2016 said:
    And I thought they weren't interested in VR – at all. 




    They aren't interested in ugly 3rd party accessories but still support them.

    this is just VR support , they aren't releasing any VR products. 
  • Reply 8 of 11
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,609member
    Anybody notice in that VR demo how the woman wearing the VR goggles stumbled and nearly fell?  That's why VR will never be anything more than a niche device which only the most ardent enthusiasts will use regularly.  Just wait for when the first person falls and gets concussed then watch as the crocodiles, er, tort lawyers start circling.

    edited June 2017 StrangeDays
  • Reply 9 of 11
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,998member
    MacPro said:
    MacPro said:
    Hidden in all this is surely another truth, I see no reason that non-VR gaming cannot come to Mac now either.  The likes of GTA V etc. would surely fly on Metal 2 on a modern Mac. 
    as a recovering PC gamer, this is appealing to me. i load boot camp once in a while to play some games with friends, but knowing that my choices were limited. if this changes that, i'm in. 
    Here's hoping ... and I am not recovering ;)  I boot regularly onto an external pair of SSDs (C for OS D for Steam) over USB3 in a dock from my 2013 6 core Mac Pro to run Windows 10 Anniversary just to play games on Steam.  Great thing with Steam is if some of these high end game companies do release Steam Mac versions it's free to us if we already own them for PC.  Tip, Bootcamp run externally is pretty cool and saves messing up your Mac's internal.  Easy to clone these things too for when Windows inevitably craps out.
    That's a pretty good idea. I currently have a partition for BC, but could pick up another TB SSD drive just for it since it's somewhat rare for me these days. And it may even get backed up by Backblaze which covers my existing TB SSD external drive...
    If you need any 'how to advice' IM me.  Setting up an external bootable Winblows requires either the full Enterprise version (lol) or a few free utils run in Parallels / VMware. I prefer the latter. :)
  • Reply 10 of 11
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,998member
    tundraboy said:
    Anybody notice in that VR demo how the woman wearing the VR goggles stumbled and nearly fell?  That's why VR will never be anything more than a niche device which only the most ardent enthusiasts will use regularly.  Just wait for when the first person falls and gets concussed then watch as the crocodiles, er, tort lawyers start circling.

    If nothing else it's obviously a phenomenal development tool for the film makers themselves and I'm thrilled Apple is in on this.  I recall the complexity of the software needed to do all that 3D animation only a few tears ago.  Now they just enter the 3D world in person and set it up, it's pretty mind blowing really.  I wouldn't mind sitting in a swivel chair (nice and safely) and having a go at that and seeing myself in a helicopter or a car, for example,  in a 3D world, you don't have to walk you know.  GTA VI maybe?  :)
  • Reply 11 of 11
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 6,828member
    tundraboy said:
    Anybody notice in that VR demo how the woman wearing the VR goggles stumbled and nearly fell?  
    Yeah i did, total LOL moment -- the very first Apple VR demo and she walks into the wall. doh!!
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