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CB: From late 2005 to early 2006, Apple's Motion alone took up to 25 percent of the attention my group spent on developer support, because Motion was at the limit of what OpenGL could do. On the leading edge of OpenGL's future are things like float render paths, 128-bit wide pixel support, and more. Well, Apple wanted to use those newly added features with Motion. Apple's Pro apps are very cutting edge in this regard. They are demanding of the hardware and are quick to adopt new OpenGL extensions.

One of the effects of this is that Apple's Pro apps tend to "clear the brush" of bugs in a given area of the drivers since they're the first ones to use a new feature. When third party developers start using the feature, they can be more confident that it has been thoroughly tested and actually work.

Apple driving OpenGL through its Pro apps was a big change for us.
Historically we have paid more attention to games on the Mac. Now that Apple has some market leading Pro apps (Final Cut Pro, Motion) and they are pushing the envelope so much suddenly ATI is spending a lot more time serving these Apple pro apps. This is a major sea change for ATI (AMD).

AFR: So what you are saying is that ATI's historical role with Mac game technology has fueled OpenGL development hand and glove alongside traditional pro apps like CAD and 3D. Now Apple is pushing the very bleeding edge of OpenGL with their own Pro apps and ATI (AMD) is having to change its focus.

CB: Yes. Apple's entire user experience depends on hardware accelerated OpenGL. OpenGL is the industry standard in CAD and 3D professional apps because it's open, supports all the platforms, and is even huge in gaming. To compete for Apple's business, we have to make our drivers as robust, fast and feature rich as possible.

Apple's reliance on OpenGL in the OS and in their Pro apps raises the bar for us, and is what makes AMD's Mac drivers as high quality as they are, which in turn benefits all the developers [PC and Mac] who use OpenGL.

AFR: It sounds like Apple is good for OpenGL. But it makes perfect
sense. They need it. Where is OpenGL big in gaming, other than the Mac? The Mac gaming market is not that big compared to the PC and the consoles rule everything anyway.

CB: OpenGL ES is very important in the handheld world. It's everywhere.

AFR: What is the impact on the OpenGL Architectural Review Board (ARB)? Where's Microsoft's role in this and OpenGL?

CB: Microsoft resigned from the ARB. They have their proprietary
Windows-only OpenGL competitor technology called DirectX. DirectX 10 is a key technology in Windows Vista which--in some ways--will do things that Mac OS X has been doing already for a couple of years.

AFR: Does DirectX 10 have a big influence on OpenGL?

CB: Indirectly. DX10 has a big influence today on hardware and companies like AMD and Nvidia and Intel have to provide the hardware support for both OpenGL and DX10. Microsoft still has to support OpenGL because Windows Pro apps rely on it. It's their cross-platform graphics technology.


Closing Thoughts

AFR: You said Apple's pro apps are pushing the edge of OpenGL
development. But they are mostly video apps. How do video apps differ than say CAD or 3D?

CB: Sure. Video apps like Motion are typically pixel-bound. They really care about the pixel shaders and the technology behind that. Pro apps like CAD and modeling apps are typically vertex-bound. That is they care more about geometry processing. Both types of apps stress the drivers in different ways, and Apple is always pushing us to be fast, robust and feature rich in both vertex and pixel processing.

AFR: Chris this has been an incredibly informative afternoon at ATI (AMD). It was really a pleasure.

CB: Thank you. I look forward to the article.


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