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Old May 17, 2013, 07:56 AM   #1
saturnotaku
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SteamPipe beta brings massive boost to select Source-engine games in OS X

This is huge news for Mac users who enjoy playing Source-engine games (Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, et al). Apparently in preparation for these titles to debut on Linux, Valve has done some optimization that has provided a major benefits to OS X users.

As of right now, the beta is only available on certain titles, including Half-Life 2 and its expansions, Portal, Team Fortess 2, Counter-Strike, and Left4Dead 2. I've probably left out a couple others, but you can see what's available by right-clicking on the game in your Steam library and entering properties and looking for the "betas" tab. To actually obtain the updated game, you need to delete any games you want to beta test but already have installed. Once you've deleted that content, go into game's properties/betas tab, opt-in from from the drop-down menu, wait for the confirmation to appear in that box, close it, then re-download the game. Half-Life 2 and Portal are about 3.6 GB each.

While I've not run any official benchmarks, the performance difference is night and day. Previously, in order to maintain a steady framerate on the MBP in my signature, I would have to turn down the resolution to 1440x900 and lower the details. Even then I would see occasional slowdowns. With the SteamPipe editions, HL2 and Portal are pretty much locked at a solid 60 fps at 1680x1050, high details, and with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled. During a brief session of HL2, I only saw one slowdown and that was with something exploding right in my face. As far as I'm concerned, the performance gap between OS X and Windows in these games is essentially closed.

Unfortunately, Portal 2 is not part of the current beta set. Hopefully it will be in the very near future as I have to imagine Valve will want it ported to Linux, too.
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Old May 17, 2013, 02:35 PM   #2
jeanlain
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No need to delete the games prior to installing the betas. I have both version installed for most of the games you mention, and they work OK side-by-side. In fact, I can switch between beta and stable version very easily.
And you're right about the increase in performance. I haven't seen much difference in TF2 though. For other games, it's almost 2X faster when performance is CPU-bound. This is mostly due to improved multicore rendering. On a dual core Mac, the improvements may not be that huge (I have a quad core).
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Old May 17, 2013, 03:02 PM   #3
Dirtyharry50
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This is great news. I'm glad to hear it.
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Old May 17, 2013, 05:22 PM   #4
saturnotaku
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Originally Posted by jeanlain View Post
No need to delete the games prior to installing the betas. I have both version installed for most of the games you mention, and they work OK side-by-side. In fact, I can switch between beta and stable version very easily.
And you're right about the increase in performance. I haven't seen much difference in TF2 though. For other games, it's almost 2X faster when performance is CPU-bound. This is mostly due to improved multicore rendering. On a dual core Mac, the improvements may not be that huge (I have a quad core).
How do you have both versions installed together? I couldn't figure that part out.
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Old May 17, 2013, 06:47 PM   #5
ScottishCaptain
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Just FYI, but this has nothing to do with SteamPipe. SteamPipe is just a different distribution system. It has nothing to do with the internal game engine.

VALVe may have pushed out a new build of Source in the SteamPipe beta, but the two are not directly related. Whatever performance gains you're seeing will likely be back ported to all of Steam, SteamPipe or not.

-SC
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Old May 18, 2013, 03:27 AM   #6
jeanlain
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Nowhere was it implied that Steampipe (vpk) was responsible for the performance increase, although it definitely shortens load times. Gains result from an update to the Source engine which probably includes openGL optimization made during the port to Linux. Steam games (non-Source) will not be affected, and I don't expect Valve to release this performance update separately from the SteamPipe update. I think they didn't bother to make Linux games compatible with the legacy .gcf format, so all will use SteamPipe.
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Old Jun 9, 2013, 10:32 AM   #7
jeanlain
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saturnotaku View Post
How do you have both versions installed together? I couldn't figure that part out.
Sorry I missed your question. Just opt in for the steampipe beta in the game properties and you're set. When you want to switch to the stable version, opt out of the beta. It may download a few things at first, but after that you should be able to switch between versions without reinstalling anything.
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Old Jun 10, 2013, 04:35 PM   #8
Dagless
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeanlain View Post
Nowhere was it implied that Steampipe (vpk) was responsible for the performance increase, although it definitely shortens load times. Gains result from an update to the Source engine which probably includes openGL optimization made during the port to Linux. Steam games (non-Source) will not be affected, and I don't expect Valve to release this performance update separately from the SteamPipe update. I think they didn't bother to make Linux games compatible with the legacy .gcf format, so all will use SteamPipe.
On my system (addicted TF2 player), it now loads up as if the game and map had previously been loaded. No performance increase but load times are just crazy fast, even on my iMac's normal HDD.
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Old Jun 13, 2013, 06:17 AM   #9
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Yeah TF2 was the game that didn't show any fps increase. They may not have updated that branch of the engine.
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