MacBook For 2D Game Programming?

Sage
Posts: 1,066
Joined: 2004.07
Post: #1
I'm looking into getting a MacBook as a replacement for my two year old PowerBook G4, but I'm worried I won't be able to do my small game programming. I want a MacBook because I like the size and price, and I don't plan on running hefty 3D apps with it. I plan to put 2GB of RAM into it and get the fully loaded black MacBook. My only worry is the integrated graphics. All I want to be able to do is 2D and fairly simple 3D programming with the MacBook. I'm doing as much of that as I like with my PowerBook with a Radeon 9700, 64MB, so will I notice a difference switching to the MacBook? It has the same amount of RAM on it, but being integrated might hinder it. On the other hand, my graphics card is over two years old.

Does anyone have a MacBook they use for game programming? Has anyone tested the MacBook with 3D graphics to see what it's capable of handling? Thanks.
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Luminary
Posts: 5,143
Joined: 2002.04
Post: #2
The GMA 950 is roughly equivalent to a Radeon 9600 in terms of pixel processing power, so it'll be a downgrade on what you've had, but should be more than capable enough for any 2D game. The CPUs will be *much* faster, though, so you may well find that many games run faster, despite the worse GPU.

It doesn't have hardware vertex processing, so 3D games with lots of geometry will see poor performance. In particular, Don't expect Doom III and Quake IV to be playable, since they're very heavy on the vertex load.

10.4.8 introduces the "Multithreaded OpenGL Engine" to Intel-based Macs. This is a system whereby with a single line of code, a developer can alter their application to do the CPU parts of OpenGL rendering ( such as vertex transformation for the GMA 950 ) on a separate thread. My guess is that as games are updated to work with this feature ( and the bugs in the feature get ironed out Wink ), the GMA 950 will begin to catch up in this regard too.
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Sage
Posts: 1,482
Joined: 2002.09
Post: #3
It runs UT2k4 well enough for me to be happy. Not as well as my 9600XT in my G5 though.

You definitely shouldn't be worried about 2D performance. Vertex processing is expensive on the MacBooks, but they have plenty of fillrate. If anything, they are intended more for 2D than 3D.

Scott Lembcke - Howling Moon Software
Author of Chipmunk Physics - A fast and simple rigid body physics library in C.
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Sage
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Joined: 2002.09
Post: #4
Multithreaded OpenGL is in 10.4.8?
(Updates the system on his MacBook)

Scott Lembcke - Howling Moon Software
Author of Chipmunk Physics - A fast and simple rigid body physics library in C.
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Sage
Posts: 1,066
Joined: 2004.07
Post: #5
OneSadCookie Wrote:The GMA 950 is roughly equivalent to a Radeon 9600 in terms of pixel processing power, so it'll be a downgrade on what you've had, but should be more than capable enough for any 2D game. The CPUs will be *much* faster, though, so you may well find that many games run faster, despite the worse GPU.

It doesn't have hardware vertex processing, so 3D games with lots of geometry will see poor performance. In particular, Don't expect Doom III and Quake IV to be playable, since they're very heavy on the vertex load.

10.4.8 introduces the "Multithreaded OpenGL Engine" to Intel-based Macs. This is a system whereby with a single line of code, a developer can alter their application to do the CPU parts of OpenGL rendering ( such as vertex transformation for the GMA 950 ) on a separate thread. My guess is that as games are updated to work with this feature ( and the bugs in the feature get ironed out Wink ), the GMA 950 will begin to catch up in this regard too.

Sounds good. I do play a few basic 3D games once in a while, but I never thought about using my Mac to play Quake IV or anything (that's why I bought my PC). I'm just glad I won't wind up with a machine incapable of playing and making simple 3D/2D games.
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Luminary
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Joined: 2002.04
Post: #6
skorche Wrote:Multithreaded OpenGL is in 10.4.8?
(Updates the system on his MacBook)

Yes, it's present. In my testing, it's not stable enough to actually use. YMMV Smile
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Moderator
Posts: 3,571
Joined: 2003.06
Post: #7
Skorche Wrote:Multithreaded OpenGL is in 10.4.8?
(Updates the system on his MacBook)
Wow, that's news to me too! I thought that wasn't coming until next spring.

Gratuitous On-Topic Comment: Lack of hardware T&L is the only serious drawback of the GMA 950 -- and it is a serious enough drawback to prevent any compatibility with many recently released AAA games. Otherwise, it is a very capable graphics system.
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Moderator
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Post: #8
OneSadCookie Wrote:10.4.8 introduces the "Multithreaded OpenGL Engine" to Intel-based Macs.

Why didn't they mention this in the release notes?? Huh Anyway, I have already upgraded my MacBook to 10.4.8 just to be able to ctrl-scroll Rasp
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Moderator
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Post: #9
PowerMacX Wrote:ctrl-scroll
*tries*

COOL! Grin
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Member
Posts: 469
Joined: 2002.10
Post: #10
PowerMacX Wrote:Why didn't they mention this in the release notes?? Huh Anyway, I have already upgraded my MacBook to 10.4.8 just to be able to ctrl-scroll Rasp
Bummer! What's the shortcut for browser zooming now?

---Kelvin--
15.4" MacBook Pro revA
1.83GHz/2GB/250GB
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Member
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Post: #11
Consider that there is probably a MacBook(Pro) refresh coming soon with core 2 duos. I dont know if better GPUs are included but I doubt it.

Is Intel coming out with a successor to the 950 soon? I seem to remember reading something on that.
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Luminary
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Joined: 2002.04
Post: #12
codemattic Wrote:Is Intel coming out with a successor to the 950 soon? I seem to remember reading something on that.

Yes, it's called the X3000. There's little information publically available yet, but it's supposed to be a full DX10 part (so, removes the fragment-shading limitations of the 950) and also to have hardware vertex processing.
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Member
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Post: #13
cool beans! I was thinking about the 965, but maybe its the same thing? Or the x3000 is part of the 965? Maybe its slated for the iTV considering it also has HD video features, but heres hoping for a Mac GPU refresh soon.
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Member
Posts: 144
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Post: #14
codemattic Wrote:cool beans! I was thinking about the 965, but maybe its the same thing? Or the x3000 is part of the 965? Maybe its slated for the iTV considering it also has HD video features, but heres hoping for a Mac GPU refresh soon.

The x3000 is just the name Intel is giving the 965 (which is the technical name for it). The x3000 is slated for Spring, last time I checked (with the Santa Rosa platform).

In regards to the iTV...the information so far suggests it's a rather dumb box that's dedicated to streaming content. So putting a real CPU and actual GPU in the box doesn't make a lot of sense. We'll find out next year.
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Member
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Post: #15
well 3000 > 965 and having "x" in a product name is always kewl therefor its a better name! Thanks lightbringer and osc.
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