On the box
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.