Vulkan coming to macOS

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by mattspace, Feb 26, 2018.

  1. mattspace, Feb 26, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018

    mattspace macrumors 65816

    mattspace

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    #1
    Interesting news today about Vulkan coming to macOS, specifically the degree to which Valve is involved.

    By owning Steam, and being a co-creator of the Vive, Valve pretty much holds the future of the Mac as a VR-capable platform in their hands (because noone is going to write mac-specific VR apps, and there's nothing Apple can do to change that, without a fundamental change in their culture), and this looks like they're making a play to promote Vulkan as the actual "write-to" layer for game /3d developers, relegating Metal to a dumb pipe for hardware management (which is the future of macOS in general, in a VR-centric computing world).

    Much the same way as Unreal and Unity are the universal VR development layers, and Steam is the universal app platform.

    Edit: https://architosh.com/2018/02/vulkan-coming-to-apple-alternative-to-metal-api-headed-to-mac-and-ios/
     
  2. CapnDavey macrumors 6502

    CapnDavey

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    #3
    like he said hehe
     

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  3. Kris Kelvin macrumors regular

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    Dec 28, 2005
    #4
    Note that MoltenVK is "just" a translation layer from the Vulkan API to Metal. It's a win for cross-platform developers, but it won't be faster than Metal.
     
  4. Flint Ironstag macrumors 6502a

    Flint Ironstag

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    #5
    Nice insight regarding MacOS and VR, OP. So now we need devs to jump onboard. Is there a pool for which game will be the breakout Vulkan hit on MacOS?
     
  5. Eric5h5 macrumors 68020

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    #6
    Already discussed here; specifically read this before you get excited.

    --Eric
     
  6. mattspace thread starter macrumors 65816

    mattspace

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    #7
    I think where this will really have a huge impact is in niche Pro apps - for example in panoramic imaging (where I have direct experience) all the apps, many of which cost several hundred dollars, are developed using cross platform Qt front ends (which look, feel, and perform like arse), and OpenGL on the back, and none of these are going to go to Metal because they're made by small teams who want a single cross-platform codebase.

    Games, I'd be unsurprised if this had a lot less effect, because as noted the big developers already have their Metal back end in place. But in VR - again, Valve holds all the cards, so what they do will be very interesting.
     
  7. Flint Ironstag macrumors 6502a

    Flint Ironstag

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    #8
    Wonder if theres' any official word on multi-GPU support for us. Just not in the mood to google technical docs at the moment.
     
  8. Rkuda macrumors regular

    Rkuda

    Joined:
    May 23, 2016
    #9
    Vulkan support for macOS is good because it will allow developers to bring more games and software to the Mac easier. A Mac release of Doom 2016 would be great if it happened.

    I'm not sure what you're getting at by painting this as some kind of rivalry between Vulkan and Metal though. What does Steam being the "universal app platform" have to do with anything? In what way will Valve have any sway with VR?

    If I were to make some kind of VR app/game I would use UE4 which means I would be using Metal. Valve provides nothing to me except the hardware drivers for their headset then.
     
  9. mattspace, Feb 28, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2018

    mattspace thread starter macrumors 65816

    mattspace

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    #10
    Metal is a lock-in to present developers with a choice - have a mediocre cross-platform OpenGL experience on the Mac, or shift your resources to be Mac-only and go all in on Metal.

    Metal is a classic Scully / Spindler-era Apple move.

    Vulkan seems to have the potential to disrupt that strategy. It lifts developers another level of abstraction away from Apple's technologies, and reduces Apple's leverage over them.

    Look at ARKit - launched to great fanfare, with dozens of "Made with ARKit" mentions on twitter for the first couple of months - now, dead silence, because noone writes to ARKit. Everyone is rolling their own custom AR platforms, that treat ARKit and ARCore as dumb pipes to functionality, because noone is going to sacrifice cross platform deployment. That phenomenon, of the iOS-only app (eg instagram's early days) becoming huge, was an artefact of a particular moment in history. It isn't gong to happen again, but like "put an app-store on it", "make a unique Apple-only tech" one of the only strategies in Apple's playbook.

    Apart from being responsible for the tracking tech in the only headset Apple supports, Valve also owns the only universal sales and distribution platform for VR-utilities. All the apps Apple has used to show off VR on the iMac Pro, they're not on the Mac App Store, they're on Steam. You don't think that gives them some significant leverage?

    You wouldn't be "using" Metal, you'd be using Unreal, which like Unity doesn't care what 3d subsystem it's plugging into. Metal would just be a dumb pipe to the GPU's functions. If Metal offers an ability that DirectX doesn't, then you're not going to put the effort in to take advantage of that, because the majority of your customers are going to be on Windows.

    Apple has thrived on platform specificity conferring some advantage. When it comes to XR, that isn't true, because fundamentally, users don't interact with the operating system any more. The entire user experience is owned by the particular app. There's no system-standard open/save dialogue boxes etc - nothing of the Mac gets through to the VR environment.
     
  10. flehman macrumors 6502

    flehman

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    Feb 21, 2015
    #11
    Can anyone ELI5 how this would work? Would it only work on AMD GPUs? Would it only work on the most recent GPUs? Would it depend on Apple doing anything, or on end-users downloading extra drivers, or would the support be handled entirely by the game and the GPU?
     
  11. Cindori macrumors 68040

    Cindori

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    #12
    Was mentioned earlier in the thread and deserves to be mentioned again:

    Vulkan is not coming to macOS. The title is inaccurate.

    All that is happening is that MoltenVK, a previously commercial software for translating Vulkan code to Metal, has been open sourced and will receive support by Khronos and Valve officially.

    Situation for devs has not changed at all really. Vulkan is still not supported on macOS. It's just easier to port your Vulkan code to Mac. MoltenVK has been around for years already. There's many reasons for not using it - people have been experience tons of issues and the performance is slower than just writing Metal manually.
     
  12. mattspace thread starter macrumors 65816

    mattspace

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    #13
    Right, but against performance in OpenGL?

    Is it really worth distinguishing between having the Vulkan library itself on macOS vs developers writing to Vulkan, and getting a (Metal) Mac app out the other end? It’s still an end-run around actually using Apple technologies.

    Again, there’s a lot of developers who are never going to adopt a platform-specific 3D api for the Mac.
     
  13. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #14

    Open OpenGL is closer to being at the level that Steam , Unreal , Unity are are at then at Vulkan and Metal layer.
    Folks are about as unlikely to go straight to Vulkan as they are to Metal if they have a large, upper stack, OpenGL code base. Even more so if written closely to OpenGL 3.2 "core" profile.


    Part of the performance boost from Vulkan/Metal come from pushing responsibility back up into the higher levels of the application stack. if using Cocoa, Apple peels a decent amount off for your app for more general usage . Vulkan would need something upstream from it also ( e.g., game engine, or portable generic app layer ) .



    Many games and game engines spent some effort trying to fight their way around OpenGL to get to the more "raw" GPU interface (e.g., GPU card specific OpenGL extensions , computations kernels pushed down to GPU, etc. ). For those there is an inertia to skipping past and going to Vulkan/Metal.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 28, 2018 ---
     

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13 February 26, 2018