OS X: not a Serious 3D / Graphics Development Platform ?

Here is the statement we can read in these weekly Blender developer meeting notes:

Our very active OS X platform maintainer for many years, Jens Verwiebe – had a suprising statement. He’s going to abandon OS X as a serious 3D/graphics development platform. This, he said, because of lack of quality GPU support (OpenGL, OpenCL) and annoying Yosemite glitches. It makes this platform too painful to keep using seriously. Jens will stay around for at least the 2.75 release. Martijn Berger volunteered to take over duties.

What a pity that Apple does not put more resources to have a serious OpenGL (as well as OpenCL according to the statement –I never coded with the OpenCL API on Mac OS X, so I have nothing to say about OSX/CL) support. OpenGL is tightly embedded in OS X and is a crucial element of Apple’s operating system. OS X has some cool OpenGL features like IOSurface (to share GPU data between application, the best example is Syphon –that makes me thinking I have to write a short article on that subject to show how to use it with GLSL Hacker…) or virtual screens, there is even a 100% CPU OpenGL renderer (GLSL Hacker has an option to enable software rendering on OS X).

All these nice features are often hidden by an outdated OpenGL: still several years behind what we can find on Windows and Linux. Okay there is OpenGL 4.1 on OS X, but I can’t still play with my compute shaders / SSBO demo because… the demo requires an old (for Windows and Linux users) OpenGL 4.3 (GL 4.1 has been released in 2010 and GL 4.3 in 2012). Today, the latest specification is OpenGL 4.5 (released last year). Unlike on Linux or Windows, OpenGL is fundamental for Apple’s OS and Mac OS X should have the best OpenGL implementation and support, that’s all!

My main platform for development is Windows and I code on OS X and Linux mainly to update, fix or compile GLSL Hacker. So OS X bugs or lack of features don’t bother too much 😉


6 thoughts on “OS X: not a Serious 3D / Graphics Development Platform ?”

  1. hacenator

    We have ported DOS (Divinity Original Sin) without any “painful problem” with OpenGL on OSX. Perhaps we made several fixes for shaders, and some hacks for old Intel GPU, but all other stuff works exactly as on Windows.

    1. Licaon_Kter

      Any news on the Linux port? OpenGL 4.5 and all but no game 🙁

      1. hacenator

        Hehe, all what I can say, Linux in the way. Perhaps, more information will be available at E3.

  2. JeGX Post Author

    Yes, more or less same thing for me with GLSL Hacker as long as we limit OpenGL to version 4.1. I have still an issue on OSX with shader subroutines but that all. My main complaint is the lack of OpenGL 4.3. I hope to see it in one of the next updates of OSX.

  3. Keldor

    I’m actually in a position to comment on the state of OpenCL on OSX since my dad has done extensive programming on it, in which I personally have been involved.

    OpenCL on OSX is bad. Very bad. By comparison, the OpenGL situation is .

    Basically, if you take a given mac model, you can flip a coin. Heads and the program works fine on that configuration. Tails and it crashes every time, often in inexcusable ways, i.e. crashing the OS (First gen retina ones did this, though I thing they fixed that one) or simply crashing the first time you call any OpenCL API (The Intel ones did this at one point – I think they fixed it so that it now “only” crashes when the compiler times out). Sometimes it’s something “minor”, such as the compiler timing out on every Intel GPU if you feed it anything nontrivial.

    Support is also horrible – their support cycle is about 6 months – if they don’t fix the driver in that time (and it’s very often broken out of the box), then they probably never will, and if there’s a regression breaking it on a year old computer (also much too common) with a new OS version, forget it.

    I can imagine that Apple’s OpenCL team consists of one so two very overworked programmers trying to maintain about 6 different ISAs. As far as I can tell, they’re literally rolling their own drivers rather than letting the vendors do it, since none of their bugs are present on the same hardware on other OSes (Install Windows via Bootcamp – OpenCL suddenly works there).

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