Metal (API)

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Metal
Apple Metal logo, version 2.png
Apple used the mobile multiplayer online battle arena game Vainglory (Halcyon Fold map pictured) to demonstrate Metal's graphics capabilities at the iPhone 6's September 2014 announcement event.[1]
Apple used the mobile multiplayer online battle arena game Vainglory (Halcyon Fold map pictured) to demonstrate Metal's graphics capabilities at the iPhone 6's September 2014 announcement event.[1]
Developer(s) Apple Inc.
Initial release June 2014; 4 years ago (2014-06)
Written in C++14
Operating system iOS, macOS, tvOS
Type 3D graphics and compute API
Website developer.apple.com/metal/

Metal is a low-level, low-overhead hardware-accelerated 3D graphic and compute shader application programming interface (API) developed by Apple Inc., and which debuted in iOS 8. Metal combines functions similar to OpenGL and OpenCL under one API. It is intended to bring to iOS, macOS, and tvOS apps some of the performance benefits of similar APIs on other platforms, such as Vulkan (which debuted in mid-February 2016) and DirectX 12.

Metal is an object-oriented API that can be invoked using the Swift or Objective-C programming languages.

History[edit]

The original Metal logo

Metal has been available since June 2, 2014 on iOS devices powered by Apple A7 or later,[2] and since June 8, 2015 on Macs (2012 models or later) running OS X El Capitan.[3]

On June 5, 2017 at WWDC, Apple announced the second version of Metal, to be supported by macOS High Sierra, iOS 11 and tvOS 11. Metal 2 is not a separate API from Metal and is supported by the same hardware. Metal 2 enables more efficient profiling and debugging in Xcode, accelerated machine learning, lower CPU workload, support for virtual reality on macOS, and specificities of the Apple A11 GPU, in particular.[4]

Supported GPUs[edit]

On iOS and tvOS, Metal supports Apple-designed SoCs from the Apple A7 or newer. On macOS, Metal supports Intel HD and Iris Graphics from the HD 4000 series or newer, AMD GCN-based GPUs, and Nvidia Kepler-based GPUs or newer.

Design[edit]

Metal is designed around principles of modern graphics and compute APIs, such as Vulkan and Direct3D 12, in that instructions are sent to the GPU in command buffers obtained from command queues.

Metal improves the capabilities of GPGPU programming by using compute shaders. Metal uses a specific shading language based on C++14; this is implemented using Clang and LLVM.[5]

Performance[edit]

Metal should have better performance than OpenGL, for several reasons:

Some of these points remove the amount of work the CPU is required to do to successfully execute commands on the GPU. This can lead to overall performance gain because the CPU can then be used to compute other tasks.

Adoption[edit]

According to Apple, more than 148,000 applications use Metal directly, and 1.7 million use it through high-level frameworks, as of June 2017.[7] Presumably, most of these are applications and games on iOS. Notable macOS games using Metal for rendering are listed below.

Title Developer (macOS version) Game Engine Release Date (macOS) Notes
Dota 2 Valve Corporation Source 2 18 July 2013 The use of MoltenVK to emulate Vulkan via Metal was announced on 26 February 2018[8]. The option to use this became available on 31 May 2018[9].
Rise of the Tomb Raider Feral Interactive Foundation engine 12 April 2018 Metal support shipping at launch
F1 2016 Feral Interactive EGO Engine 4.0 6 April 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Total War: Warhammer Feral Interactive Total War Engine 3 19 April 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III Feral Interactive Essence Engine 4 9 June 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Hitman Feral Interactive Glacier Engine 20 June 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Bioshock Remastered Feral Interactive Unreal Engine 2.5 22 August 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
F1 2017 Feral Interactive EGO Engine 4.0 25 August 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Feral Interactive Dawn Engine 12 December 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
DiRT Rally Feral Interactive EGO Engine 2.5 16 November 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Ballistic Overkill Aquiris Game Studio Unity Engine 5 28 March 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
BattleTech Harebrained Schemes Unity Engine 5 24 April 2018 Metal support shipping at launch
Mafia III Aspyr Media Illusion Engine 11 May 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
World of Warcraft Blizzard Entertainment WoW Engine 23 November 2004 Metal support since August 2016
StarCraft II Blizzard Entertainment SC2 Engine 27 July 2010 Metal support in beta since 24 January 2017
Heroes of the Storm Blizzard Entertainment SC2 Engine 2 June 2015 Metal support in beta since 24 January 2017,

temporarily removed on 29 November 2017

Fortnite Epic Games Unreal Engine 4 25 July 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Obduction Cyan Worlds Unreal Engine 4 29 March 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Everspace Rockfish Unreal Engine 4 26 May 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Ark: Survival Evolved Studio Wildcard Unreal Engine 4 29 August 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Observer Bloober Team Unreal Engine 4 24 October 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Unreal Tournament Epic Games Unreal Engine 4 TBA Metal support since January 2017
Refunct Dominique Grieshofer Unreal Engine 4 5 September 2016 Metal support shipping at launch
Cities: Skylines Paradox Interactive Unity Engine 5 10 March 2015 Metal support since 18 May 2017
Universe Sandbox 2 Giant Army Unity Engine 5 TBA Metal support in beta since June 2017
War Thunder Gaijin Entertainment Dagor Engine 4 1 November 2012 Metal support added 24 May 2017, removed at some point in 2018
The Witness Thekla, Inc Thekla Engine 8 March 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Micro Machines World Series Virtual Programming Unity Engine 5 30 June 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series Telltale Games Telltale Tool 18 April 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Batman: The Enemy Within Telltale Games Telltale Tool 8 August 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
Minecraft: Story Mode - Season Two Telltale Games Telltale Tool 11 July 2017 Metal support shipping at launch
ARMA 3 Virtual Programming Real Virtuality TBA Metal support in beta since 17 September 2017
X-Plane 11 Laminar Research Custom engine 30 May 2017 Metal support upcoming
Headlander Double Fine Productions Buddha Engine 18 November 2016 Metal support shipping at launch

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ McWhertor, Michael (September 9, 2014). "This is the game Apple used to show off iPhone 6". Polygon. Vox Media. Archived from the original on September 10, 2014. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ Machkovech, Same (2 June 2014). "Apple gets heavy with gaming, announces Metal development platform". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. 
  3. ^ Smith, Colin; Meza, Starlayne (8 June 2015). "Apple Announces OS X El Capitan with Refined Experience & Improved Performance". Newsroom. San Francisco: Apple. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy of the Metal homepage, November 2017". Apple Developer. Apple. November 20, 2017. Archived from the original on November 20, 2017 – via Wayback Machine. 
  5. ^ "Metal Shading Language Guide". September 8, 2014. Retrieved September 10, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Metal, a new graphics API for iOS 8 – Unity Blog". Unity Technologies Blog. Retrieved 2017-06-16. 
  7. ^ Apple Inc. "WWDC 2017 Platforms State of the Union". 
  8. ^ Nestor, Marius. "Vulkan Support Is Finally Coming to Apple's macOS & iOS to Make Games Run Faster". softpedia. Retrieved 2018-02-28. 
  9. ^ Larabel, Michael (June 1, 2018). "Initial Vulkan Performance On macOS With Dota 2 Is Looking Very Good". Phoronix. Retrieved June 5, 2018. 

External links[edit]