WWDC 2017 | Apple brings VR to macOS with Metal and AMD's Radeon 500 series GPUs
At today’s WWDC, Apple announced several new devices and updates to their existing product lines. For gamers and creative professionals, perhaps the biggest announcement was Apple’s new support for VR.
Part of this new initiative is a new API, dubbed Metal 2. Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, Metal 2 looks to optimize graphically intensive applications while reducing system usage as much as possible. Apple claims that the new API can call draws 10 times faster than Metal and supports advanced machine learning, but the standout feature of Metal 2 is its support for external GPU enclosures. While Apple didn’t name any particular devices (such as the Razer Core), they did announce their own Thunderbolt 3 eGPU equipped with an AMD Radeon RX 580. The Apple eGPU is available as a developer kit starting today.
In addition to Metal 2, Apple announced VR support available in the Fall update to macOS, dubbed “High Sierra.” Metal for VR will, as the name suggests, support VR applications. Keep in mind that Apple’s top of the line iMacs and Macbook Pros are in AMD’s ring, meaning that the RX 580 or RX 480 may be required to use VR applications on macOS even with the new API. The RX 580 and RX 480 are currently the only AMD GPUs that can run VR software and games. However, it should be noted that NVIDIA recently announced new GeForce drivers specifically for Apple devices, which means we may see NVIDIA cards on Macbooks or iMacs later this year. Also, this could be a boon for Hackintoshes equipped with high-end NVIDIA GPUs that support VR, like the GeForce GTX 980 Ti.
Apple didn’t spend much time on VR, but we will surely learn more about virtual reality on the Mac over the next few months.