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When Apple launched the iMac Pro last December, virtual reality applications and content creation were headlining features for the high-end computer. Prior to that, the company focused on Metal 2 and VR-based content as major additions to macOS High Sierra during WWDC 2017, also announcing multiple game studios putting their support behind Mac-based VR experiences, like Valve and Epic using the HTC Vive headset.

Today, another VR studio backing Apple's efforts in this space has become the focus of a new report by Ars Technica. The studio, called "Survios," was approached by Apple to port its new software "Electronauts" to macOS, part of many VR apps aimed at showcasing the iMac Pro's top-of-the-line capabilities.

imac-pro-after-effects.jpg

In the new interview, Survios studio head Mike McTyre and software engineer Jason Meisel discussed the "nearly painless" porting process, what working with Apple was like, and the important distinction between Apple's focus on AR vs VR.

According to Meisel, Apple focused on ease of portability and ensured that early VR Mac developers wouldn't hit roadblocks during the porting process. Right now on Mac, VR experiences are supported using an optimized version of Valve's SteamVR platform and Survios developed Electronauts in the Unity game engine, which "can build directly to a multitude of platforms" spanning macOS and Windows.
"Essentially, what they've done really well is that they've been working with Unity and with Valve to make that whole process of porting a game that already exists using Unity and just get it running on the iMac," Meisel added.
Speaking on the topic of the small install base of an iMac Pro-only VR title, McTyre said that the studio noticed "a lot of passion" from Apple, and it's clear that the Cupertino company is planning "a lot more growth" in VR moving forward.
We're seeing a lot of resources on their end, a lot of effort, a lot of passion. They want to focus on this and work on this. So that might be true now, but that's just the starting point. It starts here, and let's see what they add on to that next... I truly believe that they're going to put a lot more growth into that going forward beyond this. This is just a starting point.
To expand the support of VR on Mac computers, McTyre said that in a few years he hopes to see Macs launch with integrated GPUs that sport minimum spec requirements for VR. Right now, even the iMac Pro development kit includes an external GPU enclosure, and support for eGPUs will launch wide in macOS High Sierra 10.13.4. McTyre hopes this is just a stopgap solution for graphics-heavy apps like VR: "I do think we are not that far off from the built-in GPUs just being good enough to just, out of the box, play VR."

ars-technica-survios-interview.jpg
Photo of the Survios offices in Culver City, California by Samuel Axon via Ars Technica


McTyre also touched upon the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality, the latter of which has been more of a focus for Apple in recent years thanks to ARKit in iOS. Apple has been tied to potential future products that could use either AR or VR, but Survios is specifically focused on VR and McTyre said AR is just "not as far along yet as VR."
The concept that AR is a version of VR but better, in my mind, is not true. It's a different experience. Televisions did not make movies obsolete. Movies did not make books obsolete. Mobile gaming did not making console gaming obsolete, and console gaming did not make PC gaming obsolete. It's all nonsense. We've been through this a million times over the last century. It's a new medium, and AR and VR are different. Is there overlap, just like TV and movies have overlap? But they're not the same thing.
For more details on Apple's relationship with VR developers, be sure to visit Ars Technica and read the full interview with Survios.

Article Link: Developer 'Survios' Details Process of Porting VR Title to iMac Pro, Says Apple Has 'A Lot of Passion' for VR
 

ikir

macrumors 68000
Sep 26, 2007
1,533
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What is passion without decent hardware for consumers? A downclocked version of the RX 580 isn't that great for VR...Vega isn't that great either compared to what Nvidia offers.
Not true at all. Nvidia is closing itself, it is far behind in many things. And their macOS drivers ARE TERRIBLE. AMD have great Metal and OpenCL drivers and they keep getting better and better. IN many benches and real world performance Vega 56 is close to 1080 and Vega 64 is slightly beaten only by 1080 Ti. But AMD GPUs have greater eGPU, free sync, OpenCL, Metal support.
 
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Regime2008

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Oct 3, 2017
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Basshead in ATL
Not true at all. Nvidia is closing itself, it is far behind in many things. And their macOS drivers ARE TERRIBLE. AMD have great Metal and OpenCL drivers and they keep getting better and better. IN many benches and real world performance Vega 56 is close to 1080 and Vega 64 is slightly beaten only by 1080 Ti. But AMD GPUs have greater eGPU, free sync, OpenCL, Metal support.
I would have to disagree with that. Benchmarks rarely go in favor for Vega. Especially when you factor in power consumption, and thermals. Most benchmarks favor the Gtx 1080 (not the 1080 TI) to the Vega 64.

I never been a fan of eGPU, as they only add latency, and lower performance compared to a full, non throttled cards.

There is a reason Nvidia is leading in R&D and beating AMD in mid to high end cards, and spanking them with the enthusiast cards. AMD can't answer back to the TI series, and can't hold a candle to the Titan series.
 
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star-affinity

macrumors 65816
Nov 14, 2007
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What is passion without decent hardware for consumers? A downclocked version of the RX 580 isn't that great for VR...Vega isn't that great either compared to what Nvidia offers.

As you might know, Nvidia has drivers that support the current generation of GPUs from Nvidia and my impression is that they seem dedicated to developing them. I think eGPU support in mac OS will help that even more since more Mac users will have a reason to get a dedicated GPU, be it fron Nvidia or AMD.

Not true at all. Nvidia is closing itself, it is far behind in many things. And their macOS drivers ARE TERRIBLE. AMD have great Metal and OpenCL drivers and they keep getting better and better. IN many benches and real world performance Vega 56 is close to 1080 and Vega 64 is slightly beaten only by 1080 Ti. But AMD GPUs have greater eGPU, free sync, OpenCL, Metal support.

Are the drivers really that bad? Works pretty well for me overall, and I'm depending on them for the GTX 970 I have in my Mac Pro (Mid 2010). There are some occasional graphics glitches in some apps, but nothing major and I think it will get sorted.

I never been a fan of eGPU, as they only add latency, and lower performance compared to a full, non throttled cards.

Aha, is there latency added to a eGPU? Didn't know that (have no experience using one). How does that latency manifest itself? A little bit lower performance is unfortunate, but expected I guess. Latency doesn't sound good, though. But why would a card in a eGPU be throttled? It's the same card just being put in a external case. The a bit lower performance compared to a card directly attached to PCI-E comes from going via Thunderbolt 3 (as I understand it).
 
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patent10021

macrumors 68040
Apr 23, 2004
3,203
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What happened to the $500 VR Kit for external GPU that Apple was pawning off? Is that no loner needed?
 
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Michael Goff

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Jul 5, 2012
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What is passion without decent hardware for consumers? A downclocked version of the RX 580 isn't that great for VR...Vega isn't that great either compared to what Nvidia offers.

NVidia probably isn’t happening until Apple gives in to CUDA (and leaves Metal) or NVidia gives in to Metal.
 
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Regime2008

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Oct 3, 2017
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NVidia probably isn’t happening until Apple gives in to CUDA (and leaves Metal) or NVidia gives in to Metal.
I don't see either happening to be honest. Nvidia leads the market here, and it would be silly not to support CUDA, especially with how Nvidia has no competition in the VR market.
 
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Michael Goff

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Jul 5, 2012
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I don't see either happening to be honest. Nvidia leads the market here, and it would be silly not to support CUDA, especially with how Nvidia has no competition in the VR market.

Except Apple caring about VR shouldn’t mean they change their plans for everything else.
 
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