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Thursday, July 11, 2002
Mac T&L Explained
8:13 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

As many gamers know, the various hardware features of video cards in relation to games that may or may not take advantage of said features has been a long-standing issue in the computer gaming world. Digging a bit more into the subject, an IMG reader recently posed a question in our forums as to whether or not Mac video cards are utilizing the Transformation and Lighting (T&L) features available in the higher end cards.

Shedding some light on the subject, Ken Cobb, VP of Westlake Interactive, replied with some specifics regarding the features:

Most Mac drivers only support the "T" and not the "L". This is because they're optimized for Quake, and even the Q3 engine still uses software lighting. NVidia drivers under OS 9 do actually support both T and L, but that's the exception.

This is not as big a liability as it might sound at first, since the PC games out today are still not high-poly enough to really require hardware T&L. If you're drawing 5 or 6K polys a scene, hardware T&L is not going to make much of a difference. What T&L enables you to do is start drawing 100K polys every scene, and we don't really see that too much right now. Things will be different when upcoming games like Doom III and UT 2003 and a few others come out.

Also adding his two cents to the mix is a forum goer by the alias of ATI Driver Guy, who offers this bit concerning the ATI line of cards:
The original Radeon, the Radeon 7500, and the Radeon 8500 currently fully support hardware T&L, and have done so since they have shipped in OS9 and OSX. There are actually very few games that do not get the benefits of hardware T&L. T&L stands for transform and lighting. The fact that Quake 3 does its own software lighting does not mean it doesn't get the benefits of hardware transform, or that other games don't fully take advantage of hardware T&L.
The thread is currently ongoing in our forums. Those interested in seeing the full posts as well as adding their own questions and thoughts are encouraged to browse through the thread.

IMG Forums - Do recent Mac videocards even use T&L?

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