On the box

Mac Format - - METAL FOR THE MAC -

much higher per­for­mance to ev­ery app, re­gard­less of whether its cre­ators di­rectly use the Me­tal API”.

Devel­oper and pro­gram­mer Si­mon Glad­man (flex­mon­key.blogspot.co.uk) adds that there are fur­ther ad­van­tages to Me­tal: “It’s im­por­tant be­cause it en­ables soft­ware ven­dors to cre­ate high-per­for­mance graph­ics­based ap­pli­ca­tions, such as games and 3D con­tent-cre­ation soft­ware, with a com­mon code-base be­tween desk­top and iOS de­vices. A com­mon code-base means a faster time to mar­ket and lower costs as­so­ci­ated with soft­ware de­vel­op­ment and main­te­nance.” On hear­ing ‘Me­tal’, Gan­srigler isn’t alone in first think­ing of games, largely be­cause Ap­ple’s been push­ing the tech­nol­ogy in iOS 8. He’s hope­ful Me­tal will boost Mac gam­ing in a sim­i­lar way to how it im­proved things on mo­bile: “For years, Macs have lagged be­hind Win­dows PCs with sim­i­lar specs when it comes to games per­for­mance. Even on the same ma­chine, when run­ning a game on OS X and then on Win­dows us­ing Boot Camp, the dif­fer­ence has of­ten been, to say the least, no­tice­able.”

Gi­ant Spacekat founder Brianna Wu (gi­antspacekat.com) pro­vides ex­am­ples: “Civ­i­liza­tion V runs dras­ti­cally worse on OS X, and Fi­nal Fan­tasy XIV was sus­pended. The lat­ter uses OpenGL on Win­dows and Mac, but be­cause the same code was so in­ef­fi­cient on Mac, they had to pull the game from sale.” With Me­tal, she says, Mac games will fi­nally be­come more com­pet­i­tive with their Win­dows coun­ter­parts, through de­vel­op­ers gain­ing ac­cess to tools for writ­ing the most ef­fi­cient, high-per­for­mance al­go­rithms for your graph­ics card.

Me­talGL’s Bill Hollings (me­talgl.com) says this should “pro­vide ad­di­tional head­room for those highly-tuned games and apps push­ing at the lim­its”, although de­vel­op­ers will need plenty of in­vest­ment and ef­fort to make use of such ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Through re­duc­ing CPU us­age, Gan­srigler posits Me­tal-based ti­tles could of­fer im­proved physics, AI, au­dio or game logic over OpenGL equiv­a­lents. And free­lance devel­oper An­dreas Monitzer (monitzer.com) reck­ons “pro­fes­sional games will be able to pro­vide the same vis­ual fi­delity as on Win­dows, while re­duced bat­tery drain means you’ll be able to play for longer”. Un­sur­pris­ingly, high-pro­file games stu­dios have al­ready con­firmed in­ter­est in Me­tal, se­duced by Ap­ple’s prom­ises of up to a 50% leap in ren­der­ing per­for­mance (mean­ing higher frame-rates) and 40% higher ef­fi­ciency. But Hollings warns there is a snag: “This is, re­mem­ber, a tech­nol­ogy that does not pro­vide cross-plat­form sup­port”. Pro­fes­sional tools, he says, will gen­er­ally be able to ‘hide’ this from the devel­oper, us­ing Me­tal for Ap­ple de­vices and other frame­works else­where.

At WWDC 2015, Me­tal for Mac was un­veiled, with Ap­ple show­ing how it can mas­sively en­hance the per­for­mance of pro apps like Adobe Il­lus­tra­tor.

Glyn Wil­lams says Me­tal will make Ap­ple TV into a gen­uine con­sole to be se­ri­ous about.

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