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Mavericks brings OpenGL 4.1 plus notes on the new Mac Pros

OS X Mavericks will be a much better operating environment for CAD and 3D professionals — New OpenGL 4.1 benchmarks put it square with Windows

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New reports are showing that Mavericks–Apple’s next version of its Unix-based operating system OS X–will bring full support for OpenGL 4.1. This will help bring platform parity between OS X and Windows in regards to OpenGL implementation at the OS level. It is important to emphasize that OpenGL implementations have varying degrees of execution among markets, with gaming markets in particular often implementing the newest OpenGL technology far earlier than professional application markets like CAD and DCC (digital content creation).

OpenGL 4.1 and Mavericks

Windows has had OpenGL 4.1 since 2011 with updated AMD drivers but Mavericks will, when it ships this Fall, bring important and key OpenGL technology to the OS X platform. Sadly, Apple has often been leading the edge with OpenGL with its own pro apps (see: Architosh, “Interview: AMD Mac Graphics Division Talks Apple and Graphics Progress,” 25 Oct 2011.) but the OS X platform has not kept pace with pushing the envelope with OpenGL in the past few years. Mavericks’s implementation of OpenGL 4.1 is a welcome catchup.

The best news is that developer builds are showing OpenGL 4.1 performance on OS X (10.9) as essentially equal to Windows 8.1. A good report summary at the Fairerplatform.com has shown variously sourced test results utilizing the Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0 (which Architosh utilized in recent AMD hardware tests) to compare OpenGL speeds for version 4.1 across platforms.

Test Results

Using the Unigine Valley Benchmark some InsanelyMac Forum posters reported the following results:

  • Mavericks DP7 OpenGL score : fps 31.7, Score 1327
  • Windows 8.1 OpenGL score : fps 31.7, Score 1328

The control settings were set to Extreme, 1600 x 900 with AA on.

Even performance against DirectX 11, which utilizes operations in code not well suited for the OpenGL API due to cross-platform considerations, scored only marginally better than OpenGL on both Mavericks and Windows 8.1. DirectX is not an important API in the pro apps space so for the purposes of the Architosh audience this is of little value. What is key to note is that it looks like Apple is going to get its OpenGL performance on par with Windows and this is indeed a great thing for pro apps on the OS X platform.

New Mac Pro – Let’s Talk

Let’s talk about the new Mac Pros Apple has promised us this Fall. We will share with readers that we are working on a more detailed and official feature report.

There are looming questions about the Mac Pro’s twin GPUs and how they will be utilized. There are specifics about how OpenGL and OpenCL get optimized perhaps for the new Mac Pros…how the cards in twin configuration get taken advantage of. There are questions about the drivers that Apple will provide for Bootcamp, and about Apple’s pro apps, et cetera. The answers to all of these will have a lot to do with how professionals respond to the new Mac Pro at the specific application level and just how warmly this long-awaited new machine will be received. As always, Architosh will do its best to cover the details and the big questions as they relate to CAD and 3D.