One of the most-anticipated features in OS X Mavericks is OpenGL 4.1 support. Though Apple is typically tight-lipped on the subject, a range of informal beta testers have stepped forward to flesh out what OpenGL 4.1 means for OS X 10.9 users vis-a-vis features and performance.
The above image, which appears to be a slide from a presentation deck, comes via Geeks3D. Therein, the one item that’s attracted the most attention, Tesselation, is a technology that allows more realistic shading of irregular objects, which has been available on other platforms for years.
That said, Rishi Kumar, who moonlights as an anesthesiology resident, compatibility and performance tested OpenGL on his hotrod Hackintosh running OS X Mavericks (DP1). He discovered that OS X 10.9 provides wall-to-wall v4.1 compatibility and significant performance improvements (vs OS X 10.8.4):
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Kumar notes the rough nature of his testing, though it’s hard not to be impressed by the double-digit performance improvements.
OpenGL: OS X Mavericks vs Windows 8.1
Of course, for the über fanboys, Mac OpenGL performance only has relevance when compared with Windows. InsanelyMac Forum posters oblige with Mavericks DP7 vs. Win 8.1 comparisons using the Unigine Valley Benchmark 1.0:
• Extreme setting ie 1600×900 8xAA windowed
— Mavericks DP7 OpenGL score: fps 31.7, Score 1327
— Windows 8.1, OpenGL score: fps 31.7, Score 1328
— Windows 8.1, DirectX 11 score: fps 36.3, Score 1517
• Extreme HD setting ie 1920×1080 8xAA fullscreen
— Mavericks Prev 7 OpenGL score: fps 23.7, Score 990
— Windows 8.1, OpenGL score: fps 24.0, Score 1003
— Windows 8.1, DirectX 11 score: fps 27.5, Score 1149
See also Phoronix’s Unvanquished benchmark tests.
As one might expect, DirectX 11 delivers better overall results, though it’s not a blowout. Further, the direct head-to-head OpenGL comparisons are pretty much a wash, which is very encouraging.
The same conclusions were reached by the InsanelyMac posters when running the Heaven 4 benchmark:
• Heaven 4.0 Basic, Extreme preset OpenGL
— OS X 10.9 DP7 (OpenGL): 26.6 fps / 670, DP6 26.9 fps / 679
— Windows 8.1 (OpenGL): 26.9 fps / 676
— Windows 8.1 (DirectX 11): 28.9 fps / 729
Again, DirectX 11 is best, but it’s not a blowout and the OpenGL comparison is a dead heat.
Whereas user facing features, like Finder Tabs and Safari Power Saver, have gotten the most coverage so far, Apple’s put a lot of effort into under-the-hood functionality found in OS X Mavericks.
Yes, OpenGL 4.1 support is looking good. However, it’s just one bullet point on Apple’s list of advanced OS X 10.9 features that also includes Memory Compression, OpenCL 2, Timer Coalescing, System-wide Core Animation and more.
OS X Mavericks will deliver one heckuva a lot more than eye candy when it arrives in late October.
What features pique your interest?