What do you want to know
- Apple unveiled its MetalFX graphics scaling technology during the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2022 keynote as part of its Metal 3 API for developers.
- MetalFX works similarly to Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling technology and AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution technology by leveraging machine learning to deliver upscaled images for better gaming performance than the rendered purely material.
- The second game-centric announcement Apple made was for 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 Resident Evil: Village will be among the first games for Mac to use this new technology, allowing the game to go from 1080p on low-end hardware to 4K on high-end devices, like the Mac Studio.
- Mac gamers could benefit from solid graphics performance despite the lack of a discrete GPU. Another key benefit is longer battery life on laptops, which could be appealing to mobile gamers playing on laptops.
After unveiling new hardware, like a newly redesigned MacBook Air and a refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro, both powered by the company’s latest M2 silicon, Apple has sneakily announced its intention to be the next gaming powerhouse. company introduced new development tools, mainly Metal 3 API and MetalFX, which is a scaling tool for games powered by artificial intelligence. These moves signify Apple’s intention to move from being a consumer PC company, based on hardware like the iMac and MacBook Air, and focusing on creators with devices like the MacBook Pro, to a gaming brand.
Although new to the Apple ecosystem, tools like MetalFX have been around in the PC space for years, driven largely in the past by Nvidia and more recently supported on rival graphics cards made by AMD. In the Nvidia GeForce world, MetalFX is akin to Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling, or DLSS, technology, which uses machine learning to analyze different parts of a scene in a game and scale it to create a sharper and more detailed image.
Since AI is used, MetalFX and DLSS would require less hardware power than if the scenes were rendered natively using the device’s GPU power.
“Gaming at maximum resolution and quality is awesome,” said Jeremy Sandwell, Apple’s senior director of GPU software, at WWDC. “And to help game developers increase the performance of realistic and immersive graphics, we’re introducing MetalFX Upscaling, which allows developers to render rich, immersive scenes even faster.”
Apple explained that the technology analyzes smaller, less compute-intensive images, then applies high-quality spatial scaling and temporal anti-aliasing to the scene to achieve more detailed graphics.
On the AMD side, Radeon gamers will know the technology as FidelityFX Super Resolution, which aims to achieve the same goal as Apple’s Metal 3 toolkit.
In addition to AI-driven scaling, Apple also announced a new Fast Asset Loading API, which aims to help games load faster and without lag. The technology is similar to Microsoft’s DirectStorage and AMD’s Smart Access Storage that are used in PC gaming today.
While the news itself isn’t all that exciting, Apple’s investment in its own silicon and subsequent software tools to help bring developers’ visions to life could signal a change for the Mac. It’s worth noting that MetalFX’s debut at WWDC precedes an oft-talked-about Mac Pro redesign, which could help transform Apple’s pro-grade workstation from a creative tool into a versatile desktop that will satisfy the needs energy from developers, players and users in general. end PC users.
This could mean that in the future, PC gamers will be able to confidently choose between gaming desktops, like Alienware’s Aurora systems, and the Mac in various configurations.
“It really is a new day for Mac gaming,” Sandwall said.
Unlike the Windows world, Macs weren’t known in the past for being powerful gaming systems, and Apple’s move to its custom processor might shake things up a bit for the Win-tel world. Despite lacking its own dedicated GPU, as the Apple M2 processor includes integrated CPU, graphics, and neural engine cores on an integrated chip design, software like MetalFX could help Apple gain traction if the company can demonstrate that the performance is on par with traditional performance. PC games that rely heavily on power-hungry GPUs.
If Apple plays its cards right, MetalFX could turn the Mac into an attractive PC gaming alternative. Since the M2 already consumes less power than comparable x86 processors from Intel and AMD, not having a discrete GPU will give the Mac even more battery life. For mobile gamers, a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro could mean even longer gaming sessions without having to be tethered to a power brick. And in terms of form factor, the MacBook Air, for example, is just 0.44 inches thick in a body that weighs just 2.2 pounds. By comparison, the 13-inch Razer Blade Stealth is 0.6 inches thick in a heavier 2.86-pound body.
The appeal of Apple’s hardware proposition is there, but Apple will have to prove to gamers that it will continue to drive innovation and improvement where it matters that its platform is truly attractive in the long run. In the PC gaming space, Microsoft and its partners have already shown their commitment 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 refined gaming rigs over time, as PC rivals will be forced to compete on build quality, and Apple’s emphasis on Energy-efficient performance could drive more silicon innovation across the board.