so... whats the advantage of Metal in current OSX-Games?

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by pscl, Sep 4, 2015.

  1. pscl macrumors 6502

    Jun 3, 2013

    I was wondering what improvements we exactly can expect in gaming with the new Metal-API in El Capitan?

    Do Game developers such as RIOT (League of Legends) and Steam have to update their engine or programm code to take advantage of this new API? Or will the current (Mac)Games automatically take advantage of this new API and increase performance? Is there a direct link between the "old fashioned" openGL and the new API?

    If i update to el capitan... will i see FPS improvements in LOL, CS:GO or other Games?

    Any of you gamer already tried it? Or any further informations?

    Holy moly.. so many questions... ;-)

  2. Ferazel macrumors regular

    Aug 4, 2010
    I'm not a OS X developer, but I will try to answer your questions.

    We don't have hard numbers on Metal performance gains on OS X yet. However, it will depend on the game. If the game is CPU limited (which unfortunately few are) you can expect much better performance gains than if it is GPU limited. Metal doesn't magically make your GPU faster. It reduces the overhead on the CPU to properly validate and send 3D rendering commands to the GPU.

    Developers need to rewrite a significant portion of their software's rendering in order to take advantage of Metal. Metal is significantly different than OpenGL in usage and functionality. However, OpenGL 4.1 will still be available in El Cap for backwards compatibility. They are similar in that they are both 3D rendering APIs.

    El Capitan doesn't seem improve the existing OS X OpenGL implementation over Mavericks. The work needed to get Metal ported to OS X hardware was likely where they spent the majority of their time. Do not expect performance gains in existing applications running the OpenGL profile. Existing applications will have to have significant work done on them to take advantage of Metal.

    I'd love to do some performance tests, but there aren't a lot of benchmarks or real-world applications that use Metal to do a direct comparison to OpenGL's performance.

    From other threads, developers have hinted that the first iteration of Metal will primarily just get a new rendering OS X API out there and functional. The next iteration of OS X will likely add features to give it a feature set comperable to modern OpenGL and Direct3D and also hopefully improve performance.
  3. Janichsan macrumors 68000


    Oct 23, 2006
    There are very little immediate effects, and even those are mostly secondary (by reducing the overhead of system processes). Games have to be adapted specifically to use Metal. There are some developers who have announced to do that (e.g. Blizzard), but don't expect these updated version too soon. How big the gains will actually be remains to be seen.

    That said, there are a bunch of games that currently could not be ported to Metal, since Metal is missing a bunch of crucial features that OpenGL has.
  4. pscl thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 3, 2013
    thank you both for the explanation!

    especially Ferazel... really good information! thank you!
  5. antonis macrumors 68020


    Jun 10, 2011
    AFAIK the only real-world indication of a performance improvement is the OS X's UI itself, where in El Capitan seems to be faster (I assume Apple has switched it to make use of Metal). Of course this falls pretty far away from the games context.
  6. Solomani macrumors 68040


    Sep 25, 2012
    Alberto, Canado
    Have either Feral or the Aspyr reps mentioned committing to future support for Metal? Knowing their track record, I'm sure they will re-write or port future OSX games using Metal. IMHO, most of the top-notch AAA PC games that come to OSX are ported by either Feral or Aspyr.
  7. Ferazel, Sep 4, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2015

    Ferazel macrumors regular

    Aug 4, 2010
    Aspyr has briefly talked about it here: Sounds like they have a wrapper library (similar to the Valve source1 games) they use to convert Windows system calls into OS X system calls and then they recompile the app. In their rendering code, they most likely are going to need to change their rendering from the single-queue stack to a more DX12, Vulcan, Metal-esque parallel command queue structure.

    Feral just plopped out a press release and not much else. ( Devs on twitter though have mentioned that without certain rendering features, it may be more difficult to port apps that heavily rely on missing features in the current Metal API and for those games they're going to have to keep porting games in OpenGL until the time is right.

    Blizzard has also had a Mac dev post on their forums stating basically that they are supporting it in a future WoW patch after 10.11 ships.

    Having reread the Aspyr article, something I missed the first time jumps out at me.
    Having seen how awful of a time Valve had with trying to support driver work arounds for Source2 on OS X hardware, I can imagine that this being huge advantage for devs. With the API being significantly simpler than the extension crazy OpenGL, it is the hope that the drivers are going to function better.
  8. Solomani macrumors 68040


    Sep 25, 2012
    Alberto, Canado
    Thanks for the links Ferazel! And the insight I was looking for.
  9. pscl thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 3, 2013
    sounds like a great future of gaming on mac OSX is coming... im excited!
  10. vkd macrumors 6502a


    Sep 10, 2012
    Sounds like still a couple of years before any real user benefit will be had. o_O
  11. roadbloc macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    It take a few games to support Metal first before you start to see the advantages. It's good to see that Apple is finally sorting out their completely lousy graphics library support in OS X. It's taken a long time.
  12. dan1eln1el5en macrumors 6502


    Jan 3, 2012
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    I don't think you should expect games saying "using metal" more likely it's the engines that will be updated (i.e. Unity, Unreal Engine etc)
    Then games will be recompiled in the new engine, thus being metal ready.

    The subject have been up earlier, and there I seem to remember that other light weight - close to core languages are being developed as well. and Valve have their own horse to bet on (not Metal, but new OpenGL version or something like that) in general future games will be more light weight and drop support for older it's been for many years now.

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