I recently reviewed the state of OpenGL and related topics on Linux. However, I did not think about Apple that time. Now it came to my mind that Leopard might ship with the newest OpenGL support – OpenGL 3.
Before I start: I have no idea about Apple’s development, structure or marketing. I’m a Linux guy with experiences as a Windows help desk, and for me the interesting part of Apple is the WebKit project (because it is related to KDE) and the BSD core. Unfortunately I never even had time to play with an Apple machine for more than some minutes – to play with a machine means for me to spend some days until it crashes and than re-install it to get used to all system details.
Also, I’m writing this post in the middle of the night – so it might be that I mix some stuff up because I’m too tired already.
So, now about the OpenGL part: currently OpenGL features version 2.1. This version is already a year old, the 2.x branch is 3 years old. Currently, OpenGL does not feature all the fancy things newest 3D hardware offers. That means even if you buy a very new graphics card with DirectX 10 technology it will be pretty useless on an Apple computer because OpenGL can’t handle these new cool things.
For more information read the post Short Overview: Current State of Mesa and OpenGL on Linux.
But today I saw a video on youtube with John Carmack showing the newest graphic engine of id Software, id Tech 5 on Apple’s developers conference. Somewhere in the video (around 2:00) he mentioned that there will be a “Mac related announcement” in August, and I wondered what that could be.
And here comes OpenGL into play: OpenGL “Longs Peak” which belongs to the 2.x branch will be released at some time this summer – it will be a first major cleaning of the code for several years. Later in this year OpenGL “Mount Evans” (first 3.x branch release) will be released with numerous new features – like DirectX 10 hardware support.
Now imagine that there would be an announcement that id Tech 5 will feature OpenGL 3.0 support – making it possible to use newest graphics hardware in Apple computers once OpenGL 3.0 is released.
Of course that would mean that the Mac OS X graphics system would have to ship with preliminary OpenGL 3.0 support but with the WLAN-n draft hardware available these days such a thing does not look that unrealistic. Also Apple could simply push related updates if anything changes in the last minute.
So it would be a major announcement and setting Mac OS X Leopard into a shiny light for all graphics related people. Leopard could even be called to feature the most advanced 3D technology available: OpenGL 3.0 will at least be on level with DirectX 10 and is released later than DirectX 10 – that’s all a marketing group needs to call something superior 😉
And since Linux has trouble to integrate proper OpenGL support into it’s free drivers Leopard would even be the first operating system integrating this new technology.
But as I wrote at the beginning, this is just a late night guess – maybe I’m right, maybe not, maybe partially in the form that OpenGL 2.2 (Longs Peak) will be announced. We will see eventually. For now I’m just pretty tired.