Will Developers Support Mac GeForce3?
8:47 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story
Mac users everywhere rejoiced when the Mac GeForce 3, arguably the fastest video card currently available, was announced. However, all that power does little if developers don't utilize it. MacWorld recently took a closer look at the current and future prospects of the GeForce 3 from a developer's standpoint, comparing it to Apple's own AltiVec subprocessor.
For those unfamiliar with it, the AltiVec (or Velocity Engine) unit is basically a subprocessor that allows a G4 to process several data packets at once, effectively speeding up processing time -- a 128-bit data pipeline is supported, rather than the 64-bit or 32-bit chunks other processors use. The catch, however, is that programs have to be specifically written to take advantage of this extra pipeline. However, beyond a few notable exceptions, developers have yet to take any real advantage of it, mainly due to the fact that the returns (namely the size of the Mac market and the installed base of G4 users) wouldn't justify the extra work.
This is basically the case with the new GeForce 3. It has its own chipset that developers would have to write for. Again, the returns may not necessarily outweigh the costs.
What is heartening is that there are Mac-friendly companies willing to make a stand for the technology, which will hopefully cause others to follow. Aspyr plans on updating its titles to take advantage of the GeForce 3. Blizzard also notes that PC GeForce 3 titles would likely spill over to the Mac:
"Porting PC games that take advantage of the GeForce3 shouldn't be more difficult than any other port," says John Stiles, a Mac-gaming developer at Blizzard Entertainment. "Nvidia has written a handful of OpenGL extensions which allow developers to access the new proprietary GeForce3 feature set. Fortunately, these OpenGL extensions are supported equally on the Mac and the PC. This makes for a phenomenally simple port. In many cases, these OpenGL extensions could work on the Mac with no extra development effort at all."For the rest of the details, including more comments by various developers, be sure to check out the entire article. The GeForce 3 card will debut on Mac systems later this Spring; however games that take full advantage of its abilities may be six months to a year away.
MacWorld - GeForce 3: Altivec II?
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