What you need to know
- Apple unveiled its MetalFX graphics upgrade technology at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2022 as part of the Metal 3 API for developers.
- MetalFX works similarly to Nvidia’s deep learning super sampling and AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution technology by relying on machine learning to deliver images optimized for better game performance than hardware-based rendering.
- The second game-centric announcement Apple made was around the Fast Resource Loading API, similar to Microsoft’s DirectStorage and AMD’s Smart Access Storage to help reduce game load times.
- Apple announced that No Man’s Sky And the Resident Evil: The Village It will be among the first games for Macs to use this new technology, allowing the game to scale from 1080p on low-end devices to 4K on premium devices, such as the Mac Studio.
- Mac gamers can benefit from strong graphics performance despite the lack of a separate GPU. Other major advantages include longer battery life on laptops, which may be attractive to mobile gamers who play on laptops.
After unveiling new hardware, like the newly redesigned MacBook Air and updated MacBook Pro 13-inch powered by the company’s latest M2 silicon, Apple cunningly announced its intention to be the next gaming house. The company showcased new developer tools, especially the Metal 3 APIs and MetalFX, an upgrade tool for AI-powered games. These moves indicate Apple’s intent to transform from a mass-market PC company, based on devices like the iMac and MacBook Air, and those focused on creators with hardware like the MacBook Pro, into a gaming brand.
Although new to the Apple ecosystem, tools like MetalFX have been in the PC space for years, driven largely in the past by Nvidia and more recently backed on competing graphics cards made by AMD. In the world of Nvidia GeForce, MetalFX is like Nvidia’s deep learning supersampling, or DLSSa technology that uses machine learning to analyze different parts of a scene in a game and upgrade it to create a clearer and more detailed image.
Due to the use of artificial intelligence, MetalFX and DLSS will require less hardware power than if scenes were rendered locally using the power of the device’s GPU.
“Games at maximum resolution and quality look great,” Jeremy Sandwill, Apple’s senior director of GPU software, said at WWDC. “And to help game developers increase performance for realistic and immersive graphics, we’re introducing MetalFX Upscaling technology, which enables developers to deliver rich, immersive scenes faster.”
Apple explained that the technology analyzes the smaller, less computing-intensive frames, then applies high-quality spatial upscaling and temporal refinement to the scene for more detailed graphics.
On the AMD side, Radeon gamers will know the technology as Ultra-precision FidelityFXwhich is intended to serve the same purpose as Apple’s Metal 3 kit.
In addition to the AI-driven upgrade, Apple also announced a new resource-loading API, which aims to help games load faster without lag. The technology is similar to Microsoft DirectStorage and AMD’s Smart Access Storage used today in the PC gaming side.
While the news in itself isn’t quite that exciting, Apple’s investment in its own silicon and subsequent software tools to help take developers’ insights and make them a reality could signal a transformation of the Mac. It should be worth noting that MetalFX’s debut at WWDC comes before the much-rumored Mac Pro revamp, which could help transform Apple’s professional workstation from a creative tool into a versatile desktop that caters to the power needs of developers, gamers, and the general public. PC users purpose.
“This really is a new day for Mac gaming,” Sandwall stated.
Unlike the world of Windows, Macs in the past were not known to be powerful gaming systems, and Apple’s switch to its own dedicated processor could shake things up a bit in the Win-tel world. Although it lacks its own dedicated GPU, since the Apple M2 processor includes an integrated processor, graphics, and a Neural Engine core on an integrated chip design, software like MetalFX could help Apple gain momentum if the company can demonstrate that performance matches traditional PC games are largely driven by power-packed GPUs.
If Apple plays its cards right, MetalFX can turn your Mac into an attractive alternative to PC gaming. Given that the M2 already consumes less power than comparable x86 processors from Intel and AMD, the lack of a separate GPU would give the Mac more battery endurance. For mobile gamers, a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro can mean longer gaming sessions without the need to hook them up to a power unit. And in terms of form factor, the MacBook Air, for example, is just 0.44 inches thick in a package that weighs just 2.2 pounds. In comparison, the Razer Blade Sneak The 13 inch is 0.6 inch thick in a heavier 2.86 pound body.
The appeal of Apple’s hardware offering is there, but Apple will need to prove to gamers that it will continue to drive innovation and improvement where it is important for its platform to be truly attractive in the long run. In the PC gaming space, Microsoft and its partners have already shown that they are committed to gaming.
Apple’s entry into the gaming space should be welcomed, even among loyal Win-tel gamers. The company’s commitment to design could lead to more and more improved gaming platforms over time as PC competitors will have to compete on build quality, and Apple’s intense focus on energy-efficient performance could lead to more silicon innovation across the board.