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View Full Version : The state of Open GL and ATI/Nvidia Drivers for macs...Can Newtek Help?



Ade
04-05-2004, 10:57 PM
Looking at many Cinebench and Blanos scores of Macs in c4d and lightwave it is evident that Open Gl on macs leaves alot to be desired.
Seeing its OSX's native API it is far behind the optimised Open GL on PC's.

To be fair many of the top winners in the cinebench scores use REAL CAD cards like Quadro, Fire and Wildcat series.

All we have are crappy gaming cards.

These REAL cad cards have finely tuned Open GL Drivers and are made just for the 3D apps. We are severly disadvantaged here, and I dont know why Nvidia or ATI hasnt acted?

Could Newtek help in the push?
Could NEwtek Help in the direction on which
Open GL on macs is governed in development?

Apple is most the problem here, they are responsible of the way OGL is on macs.
Apple touts G5 64-bit ultimate machine ever, yet they ship it with a card that is for gamers and quakers.

How can anyone wanting a serious PRO machine accept this?
I wish Netwek somehow OEM'd with Apple and also pushed Nvidia to release Quadros for us.

Quadro (http://www.nvidia.com/page/quadrofx.html)
Fire (http://www.ati.com/products/workstation.html)
3D Labs Wildcat series (me wanty very much so!) (http://www.3dlabs.com/index.htm)

tingham
04-06-2004, 01:22 AM
I think it's clear that Apple is quickly realizing the mistakes they have made in the past few years. The iMac line of computers really put a huge hurting on their "Pro" line as we've seen evidenced by so few actual performance increases.

With the G5 the speed improvements are mostly hype ( and why wouldn't they be ) but it shows a renewed sense of direction, focusing on getting capable computers back in the hands of the people making the most noise about the platform.

With the recent news about Pixar switching, I wouldn't be surprised to see more card support on the Mac in the coming year, but we really just need to give them ( Apple and the card makers ) some time to get their poop straight. Aside from the transparency issue, I have yet to see any real serious slow-downs while inside the workflow, and I'm pretty sure that ray tracing has nothing to do with your graphics card, but I could be wrong.

This is not a "give apple a break" response, but more just a refresher that things are definitely looking up on this side of the platform war.

-thomas

Ade
04-06-2004, 03:34 AM
I think Jobs should look before he preaches.
Rather than preach g5 systems are the ultimate he should atleast have waited till we got CAD cards.
As it stands this is taking too long.

mlinde
04-06-2004, 07:49 AM
I heard a rumor before MacWorld about 3DLabs testing cards for the Mac. Of course, that didn't come to fruition, but with NAB coming up in a week or so, I will wait and hope patiently until then. If nothing comes of that, we should see if there is anything that we as a community with the backing of Newtek, can do about our 3D hardware and drivers.

Ade, you and I have had a number of discussions about this, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. It is important to have good game drivers for a machine like the iMac, but the PowerMac needs more. A lot more.

Ade
04-06-2004, 07:56 AM
Exactly... The Pro towers dont really mean PRO if they have a gaming card as standard..

Zarathustra
04-07-2004, 08:56 AM
This has been eating me up for a long time. Put me on the list for petitioning whoever in order to get Pro cards for our Pro machines.

eblu
04-07-2004, 09:51 AM
I'm all for a much more robust choice of graphics cards, but... I'm not positive that the Pro-ness or lack thereof of our cards is the major issue here.

my PC lw using co-worker has officially stepped away from the Pro cards for use w/ LW. He uses a gForce4Ti, and he is very happy with the price/performance ratio of the card. the analogy he uses is that a pro card would give him 10% more power/speed and cost 90% more money. The gForce4Ti is realtime and in most cases faster than realtime.

no, I think that there are two major areas of software development that needs to be addressed, to get the kind of performance out of our gaming cards that Pc users see.

1. Apple has to fine tune OpenGL. While they have been doing this, the platform is not mature yet, it is still a moving target for developers. Apple gets good grades for what it Has done, but it better keep moving because OpenGL isn't all the way home yet.

2. developers have to start really optimizing for the os and the processor. We sometimes blame our 3-d display speed on OpenGl hardware acceleration, when OpenGL is really waiting for the processor. this is a pure Optimization issue, and its at the developer's feet. All you need is one function call that is slow in a loop that needs to be efficient, to destroy all of your speed.

I would love to have the availibility of a nice pro quality 3-d card, but I put 3rd party software optimization at the top of that list, and then, OpenGL fine tuning, and then Pro cards. Otherwise we'll have the ridiculous problem of our pro cards being the same (perceptual) speed or even slower than our gaming cards.

Ade
04-07-2004, 09:58 AM
OGL is falling behind bigtime.
It doesnt even have hardware shader support etc.
On mac OGL is truely a joke, CONSIDERING its OSX no.1 3d api.

Darth Mole
04-07-2004, 10:01 AM
Having seen some of the laetst games in operation, I would hardly refer to these cards as 'crappy'. Clearly there is a lot of work that needs to be done to fully make use the existing cards - optimising the OpenGL drivers, etc - before we go running off adding expensive hardware for an indeterminate (and possibly minor) increase in speed.

I've been down this road before, buying expensive cards and seeing hardly any improvement...

Darth Mole
04-07-2004, 10:06 AM
Actually, having said that, I see ATI's top of the range Fire GL X2-256t is only $650...

Ade
04-07-2004, 10:08 AM
Newtek SHOULD really align themselves with one of the card makers to include lightwave features to speed things up. They should create realtime technologies that take advantage when u have a certain supported card.

Curently these apps do this:


*3ds - nvidia/PURE support+wildcat - various Shader support, effects/Lighting support, raytracing via PURE.


*maya - nvidia/PURE support - various shader support as well as raytracing support via PURE cards


*C4d - (shader support coming soon) nvidia support


*Softimage - nvidia/wildcat support

*Lightwave - None...Nothing...Never heard of anything nor anything in the works, nor interest or speculation of thought put into this area...

Scott Gammans
04-07-2004, 10:35 AM
Originally posted by Ade
Newtek SHOULD really align themselves with one of the card makers to include lightwave features to speed things up.
...
Excellent idea.

Amadeus0
04-07-2004, 01:14 PM
I get a really big kick out of people (read: Mac users) stating that Newtek should have NVidia only features in their software. That would preclude the VAST majority of Mac users from using those features, make for more difficult testing and those features wont be exposed/work on the Mac anyway due to lack of Direct3D and/or GLSL Shader compilers for the Mac. So really you're just asking for a feature that Windows users will only be able to use.

It's better that Newtek wait for OpenGL 1.5 (which has been finalized, and drivers are starting to appear that support it) and make Lightwave run on OpenGL 1.5, not wasting time adding NVIDIA/ATI-ONLY features that will be superseded in 6-12 months with an industry standard, that ALL cards will be able to run, on ALL platforms.

Newtek wrote Lightwave to OpenGL standards, and (for the most part) if you have display issues, then it's driver related which would fall on ATI/NVIDIA -or in a few cases- Apple. This is something that Newtek has absolutely no control over. So that 10.3 OpenGL bug wasn't Newteks' fault (in fact Maya users had the same problem), it was ATI's fault. (A very snide remark that someone passed to me was something along the lines of "Apple allowing such horrible end user experience/drivers to happen when Macs are supposed to be oh so wonderful." I pointed out to him that while true it can happen to anybody.) All that complaining on the forum was for the most part a waste. ATI should have been the one to get chewed out, not Newtek.

eblu is right. "Pro" cards aren't going to give you much more power for a whole lot more money, so forget about them.

As for CAD...is AutoCAD on the Mac now? Name a famous CAD software that you can buy for OSX. You don't really need CAD cards until you have CAD software. That CAD software can run on non-"Pro" cards, so first you need the software (with people buying and using it), and then you'll get your CAD cards.

Newtek can't really push for Quadro cards on the Mac platform. It really doesn't make sense. Newtek goes to NVIDIA and says "We make openGL compliant 3D software that runs on the Mac. Please give this VERY small group of people (very small being Mac users who run Lightwave and WOULD BUY a "pro" card) what they want." NVIDIA respondes "If Mac users want this, then have THEM ask for it, and have THEM MAKE Apple put Quadros in their boxes." Newtek isn't Apple. Newtek only writes software. Apple decides on the Hardware that goes into their Apple Boxes, not Newtek. So you need Apple and NVIDIA to get together to give you a Quadro, not Newtek. Leave them out of it.

Newtek should just stay the course and stick with industry standards, and not spend development time & money on proprietary extensions to OpenGL that will be done away with soon.

(By the way if anyone wanted to write some software that would draw 'custom objects' in a viewport in Lightwave -custom objects that use these Vertex & Pixel shaders- as far as I know they can.)

KosmoK
04-07-2004, 01:42 PM
Reading through this thread made me think and now here are my two cents.

I always wanted to have a Pro card lika a FireGL for my Mac seeing what it can do compared to my card. But recently I came across a thread on insidemacgames.com. I don't know anymore how I got there, but it was from a Lightwave forum (I even think it was this one). And another thread at renderosity.com. Some very interesting things were said there that really make you think.
First of all I have to say that eblu and Amadeus0 are right. It's not NewTek that has to do something, it's Apple and ATI/nVidia who have to do their work.
Foremost Apple who have to get OpenGL working. They have really lagged on that issue. But not too bad for a system that is only three years old (I'm talking about OS X here). But it can only get better.
The second thing is what I read on the other forums. On img.com somebody said that all those Pro cards are more or less the same as any other consumer card. The thing is that the consumer cards are hardware restricted working only at a fraction of their capacity and to work only with special drivers. That being on the PC side. On the Mac side it's a whole different story. Mac cards don't have that restriction and could be at Pro card level if the software and drivers could get the card to work at it's full potential. Which means that e.g. a Radeon 9800 in a Mac could perform like FireGL. Interesting thought. But not confirmed. As long as I don't see it with my own two eyes, I call it a rumour.
The other interesting thing turned up at renderosity.com. Someone said that the cards that are now available are only working at half their capacity because of poor drivers and poor OpenGL implementation in OS X.

Which leads me to Apple, then to ATI/nVidia and then to NewTek. If they worked together to get the maximum out of what is already there, we don't need Pro cards. Getting NewTek to work with one of the card manufacturers to get something "special" would be wrong. Make them to get the things to work we NOW have.

And think about the prices we would have to pay for those cards! Look at the prices for a PC Radeon 9800 for example compared to Mac Radeon 9800. And then think what we would have to pay for a Mac FireGL. No thanks. It's expensive enough already.

KosmoK

P.S. I mean you can always turn a PC 9800 into a Mac 9800. But who wants to take the risk?

mlinde
04-07-2004, 02:08 PM
Originally posted by Amadeus0
eblu is right. "Pro" cards aren't going to give you much more power for a whole lot more money, so forget about them. From what I understand talking to people who are actually working in studios, when they do that they also flash the ROM of the game cards to re-activate the disabled pro-features. Besides, if you look at real costs, pro cards aren't that far out of line. Show me a $300 Radeon from ATI, I can show you a $300 card from 3DLabs. What you can't show me is an ATi card with 512MB of texture memory that isn't a FireGL. And don't tell me that people don't need 512 MB of texture memory, because there are people who do. Zoic and EdenFX, for starters, and shortly there will be people at Pixar who are sitting in front of G5s with ATi Radeons with crappy drivers and 64MB of texture memory complaining to the CEO. Or at least, I hope they'll complain.

Originally posted by Amadeus0
As for CAD...is AutoCAD on the Mac now? Name a famous CAD software that you can buy for OSX. You don't really need CAD cards until you have CAD software. That CAD software can run on non-"Pro" cards, so first you need the software (with people buying and using it), and then you'll get your CAD cards. There isn't a famous CAD application on the Mac. There's Vectorworks, which used to be Mini-CAD, which Mac-based architects use because NOBODY can tell when they export autocad formatted files, that it came from a Mac.

I've always believed that the issues lie with the developer of the drivers, whether that's Apple, ATi, nVidia or whomever. Sure, OpenGL needs more optimization. Your personal opinion is different than mine, Amadeus0. You don't think Newtek can make a difference, but they already have, with an ATi-only bug on the Mac that ATi had to fix, and they didn't try to fix, until Newtek approached them about it. Newtek can (if they want) mention that users are asking for better cards or drivers, and it may (or may not) make a difference -- your personal marginalization of Mac Lightwave users notwithstanding.

eblu
04-07-2004, 03:10 PM
Originally posted by Amadeus0
So that 10.3 OpenGL bug wasn't Newteks' fault (in fact Maya users had the same problem),

actually, this is not the case. Maya did not have the same problem LW has... Crashes during a redraw in a graph view, in 10.2.

And I do indeed believe Newtek is wholly responsible for the OpenGL display bug, as well as the mouse bugs currently in both LW and modeller. That Apple fixed the problem is immaterial, No Other OpenGL app had the problem in the first place. Nt uses non-standard counterintuitive dev practices and it comes back to bite them all the time.

I read an appropriate quote which I'm going to paraphrase (and possibly butcher) here:
"programming is solid design, coupled with good implementation. Anything else is hacking."

Amadeus0
04-08-2004, 12:05 AM
To eblu:
The mouse/Tablet bugs..."Yes, that is Newteks' fault!" That isn't OpenGL code. That's input/display code (which at the end of the day is calulated by the system, and drawn on an OpenGL window, but that isn't OpenGL per se.)

I was thinking of the Modeler rotate bug, not the Graph View bug, sorry for not forgetting about the GVB.

I like the quote. :-)

To mlinde:

Quote: "your personal marginalization of Mac Lightwave users notwithstanding."

Am not. I'm assuming that their are about as many PC LW users as Mac LW users, and am assuming that just as many Mac users would buy Quadro cards as their PC counterparts. It still doesn't come to a big number. Remember that there are some PC only shops (Max users, Maya unlimited) so that even if you counted all 3D software (that runs on both platforms) to be evenly divided between Mac and PC that still leaves Mac users in the minority in the overall 3D Professional Market. Add CAD to the mix (which is mostly *nix/PC boxes), Game creation (game developers/Artists do tend to use XSI/Max/Maya Unlimited/Maya Complete -PC only for 3 of the 4- for their stuff, and do their stuff on PCs) and the Mac market is much smaller then the PC market. Now that's not to say that there aren't enough Mac users to put out such a card, but YOU need to get on NVIDIA/APPLE's case, and not Newtek's. It's not their call.

As for the amount of RAM on a card, I know. More is much better. Much more is perfect (just don't ask how much more! :) .) To get 512MB on a Radeon 9800 Pro all you need to do is have someone build one. It's not like the GPU can't handle that much memory. The only thing keeping such from happening is no one is asking for it (or really, not enough people are asking for it, which only proves my point.)

As for the CAD issue. How many shops do you know of run CAD on a Mac? How many big firms do you know of that run CAD on a Mac (e.g. GM, Dodge)? Just how much of a CAD+Mac market is there now? How much of one would there be if some "Famous" CAD software come out on the Mac? I'm not asking for something famous in general, I'm asking for something that is used in the industry commonly (absolute %) that's available on the Mac (even if it's only available on the Mac.) What comes to mind? I really want to know. (Oh! It also has to run on OSX, no Classic.)

In general:

As for the ATI only bug (modeler rotate causing hard freeze )(weren't there about 2 or 3 of these 'episodes' where an update from Apple/ATI/Newtek would break something?), I seem to recall a couple of users reporting this bug to ATI, getting a tracking number and staying on top of it for a few months. By them reporting it to ATI, ATI was able to contact Newtek and "work it out." (Funny that it took an update from Apple+ATI to break 7.5c -GVB-, and then the same combo to fix it. All the while LW was at 7.5c.) No one else (that reported on the forums anyway, for a little while) reported this bug to ATI.

To be fair to ATI, it can be difficult to hit a moving target (i.e. the current Apple OpenGL implemenation) so always blaming ATI wont "work", but they do have a history of bad/marginal OpenGL support (both PC and Mac.)

eblu
04-08-2004, 09:09 AM
Amadeus0,
the rotation bug, is funny. I experienced it in Other 3d apps in mac os 9, with ati... years ago, and then the 3d software company claimed that it was ati's fault, but that they themselves could not pinpoint the problem. Currently I am using Nvidia components, and have been very lucky with the openGL implementation.

It appears that ATI is only concerned with supporting the Carmack Subset of OpenGL, and any function that falls outside of that grouping is basically poorly supported. This leads to great 3-d game support and crappy OpenGL support.

Now its obvious that Apple does partner with GPU hardware manufacturers, at first, to create the drivers, and then they seem to leave maintenance to the Vendor. Or at least thats the way it Has seemed in the past. Apple has tied the speed of openGL to the speed of the graphics display (quartz extreme), a big deal for apple and for OpenGL. It puts pressure on the maturation process of OpenGL, and it immediately gives Apple hardware acceleration in the 2-d realm. This is significant because the estimated time of arrival of a Quartz hardware accelerator was 10 years. Apple basically got one in months, without spending money on hardware design, or a new system component. This was one of the most significant things Apple did, it was a smart decision, it saved money, and it bolstered OpenGL's value to the dev community (windows pushes a competitor called direct... something). It was basically the kind of elegant and miraculous solution to several problems Apple is respected for, because This also forces Apple to get serous about OpenGL hardware acceleration (something they had been meaning to do anyway). just after announcing Quartz Extreme, Apple released a dozen or so Tutorials to developers, on exactly how to do things such as, use OpenGL to accelerate 2-d drawing, apply Quicktime as a map in OpenGL and get hardware acceleration for both, etc... Its been about a year since then, and a high percentage of tutorials coming from apple use OpenGL in some fashion, and in almost every system update they tweak something in OpenGL or the OEM card drivers, or both. I think OpenGL hardware acceleration is getting much nicer on the mac, by leaps and bounds.

now, while apple has a lot of work to do to get a nice speedy mature OpenGL hardware acceleration platform, That doesn't reflect the status of the rest of the openGL implementation. OpenGL on the mac is done right. Its widely considered the best implementation, on any platform. Apple is freakishly interested in OpenGL's future (they joined the OpenGL consortium, and have become a contributing member), and they have a stake in OpenGL being the fastest and the best implementation availible.

nuff about apple's opengl. I want to touch on Pixar a bit. The pixar people are used to using their imaginations. when they did toy story, the tools they used were Much Much cruder then say.... Lightwave 5.6. the keyframing software they used, worked like a speadsheet program on steroids. The interface sucked and it had difficulty showing complex objects in real time. Yet, they managed somehow, to create an animation treasure. I think that the Pixar people will be unfazed by a lack of Hardware acceleration speed in OpenGL. No matter what happens to the G5's 3-d speed, it will be better than what they used to use.

Lightwolf
04-08-2004, 09:49 AM
Originally posted by Amadeus0
(By the way if anyone wanted to write some software that would draw 'custom objects' in a viewport in Lightwave -custom objects that use these Vertex & Pixel shaders- as far as I know they can.)
Hi there,

yeah, I know, I'm on the Mac forum again ;)

No they can't, custom objects have zero, zilch, nada access to openGL, unfortunately.

Cheers,
Mike

Amadeus0
04-08-2004, 10:59 AM
To Lightwolf:

Sorry. That was something that popped into my head, and I hadn't investigated it.

To eblu:

ATI...I'd agree 100% about the "Carmack subset." The Quartz<->OpenGL move really was brilliant. From my posts (re-reading them) it does sound like I'm really blaming/downing Apple alot, even though a good chunk isn't their fault. OpenGL has gone from 1.2 (when OSX first came out) to 1.3 then 1.4, and now finally 1.5, with 2.0 to appear next year, so Apple has had to do some work supporting the many additions to OpenGL. Also my posts really didn't make any distinction between implementation (at least until the last sentence of my last post) and drivers+subsystem, but I do realize the difference.

I have heard that Apple's OpenGL implementation is the best around (for example Windows only supports 1.1, and on Linux it's a crap shoot.) The hardware part of OpenGL is there (ATI9800 Pro) it's just those hateful drivers. It's too bad that the only NVidia card that they make/Apple offers is the crappy FX5200 (unless I'm missing something here.) By the way who *actually* makes/fabs that NVidia card?

Direct3D sucks. Period. D3D drivers usually aren't much better. Why did MS have to kill farinheight (sp?) and make D3D... (and don't answer that.. I already know.) ;)

mlinde
04-08-2004, 12:54 PM
Originally posted by Amadeus0
By the way who *actually* makes/fabs that NVidia card? Apple takes the GPU, manufactures the card and writes the drivers.

Direct3D sucks. Period. D3D drivers usually aren't much better. Why did MS have to kill farinheight (sp?) and make D3D... (and don't answer that.. I already know.) ;) MS killed farenheit because it wasn't moving in a Windows-only direction. SGI (and the other companies co-sponsoring it) wanted a more open, platform independent spec, MS wanted something for Windows.

Ed M.
04-09-2004, 02:57 PM
As for the CAD issue. How many shops do you know of run CAD on a Mac? How many big firms do you know of that run CAD on a Mac (e.g. GM, Dodge)? Just how much of a CAD+Mac market is there now? How much of one would there be if some "Famous" CAD software come out on the Mac? I'm not asking for something famous in general, I'm asking for something that is used in the industry commonly (absolute %) that's available on the Mac (even if it's only available on the Mac.) What comes to mind? I really want to know. (Oh! It also has to run on OSX, no Classic.)

Well, I'm not quite sure I understand the question, but if you're interested in Mac CAD then you might want to start looking here (http://www.architosh.com/). It might also be worth exploring the archives there as well.

--
Ed

eblu
04-09-2004, 03:05 PM
Amadeus0,
sorry don't mean to beat you up, I just like to clarify the picture usually, you made a couple good points, someone reading them, would probably take em out of context.

as for who makes the Nvidia cards... Apple doesn't. They partner with some other hardware manufacturer, to provide the card, and they themselves provide the specs for the Roms. In theory Apple writes the initial driver, but I've heard that it is a joint effort, between all the parties involved.

My gforce4ti is the same card as found in PCs because it was made by a PC card manufacturer (under a strict NDA btw), Apple simply fills the rom with whatever They need to work with that card. thats why if you can flash the roms on some of these cards, they work in macs.
ATI is a different story, they make cards and GPUs so they make all of their own cards.