Apple, Mac Pro, OpenGL and Mantle

With the launch of the new Mac Pro and the lamenting on the Arstechnica review ( link ) about the lack of TLC for the drivers and OpenGL stack there was a recent article on Arstechnica about Mantle ( link ). It would be interesting to see where Apple fits into this equation given that such a technology would have been in the works for quite some time which begs the question whether the bus full of Apple engineers were actually not only viewing the next generation of AMD GPU’s but also ‘Mantle’ and what it might mean for OS X particularly when it comes to delivering high speed 3D performance not only in the creative sector but also gaming as well. Just reading through the Arstechnica article it is supported on the latest generation of GPU’s (Radeon HD 7000, HD 8000, R7, and R9 series) which IIRC was the time the moved from a VLIW to RISC ISA (from what I read it made life easier for AMD in the long term).  I also wonder whether that the Mac Pro launch with an AMD Fire GPU heralds a return at some point to AMD for the iMac and MacBook Pro in the future some time given that the latest GPU’s are the first (as far as I can gather) which supports Mantle. I also wonder whether we’ll see adoption by nVidia and Intel particularly if it means that it is possible to squeeze more performance per watt out of the existing design that prolonging designs (thus saving them money in the process) because I’m going to assume that if Apple does adopt it then it’ll be on the proviso that nVidia and Intel support it given that the Intel GPU is now the cornerstone of the MacBook Air and entry level MacBook Pro which will keep becoming more prominent as the gap between discrete and integrated GPU’s narrow to the point that outside a few niche scenarios (desktop such as the iMac and workstation such as the Mac Pro) for most people the Intel GPU will do the trick with minimum fuss and bother.

Edit: Just thinking then that maybe the alternative is Apple maybe using Mantle as a go between the hardware and OpenGL which might make supporting newer GPU’s easier by writing OpenGL on top of Mantle and then not having to directly link the OpenGL implementation to the hardware.

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