Open source developers have achieved a groundbreaking feat of surpassing macOS drivers in real-world performance with their GPU driver for the M2 MacBook Air. Asahi and Alyssa’s dedicated efforts made it possible to run Xonotic at over 800 FPS, which is faster than macOS performance on the same hardware, proving the potential of open source reverse engineered GPU drivers against Apple’s own drivers. Moreover, the driver passes 100% of the dEQP-GLES2 and dEQP-EGL conformance tests with better OpenGL conformance than macOS for that version.
However, some people question why open source developers contribute to a closed-source proprietary ecosystem, especially when the manufacturer often makes it difficult for them. Still, these developers have their own reasons, such as the satisfaction of overcoming technical challenges and the opportunity to work with high-end hardware. Additionally, many careers in the tech industry began through a similar process.
Furthermore, Apple has not intentionally impeded the developers’ work, and they confirmed that they have no plans to lock their bootloader to block the community. While some may argue that this much dedication should earn these developers a salary, it is ultimately the hardware manufacturers’ decision about the software to program and platforms to support.
Apple has recently shifted its focus from OpenGL to focus on Metal, a strategic choice that allows developers to use an API that caters to what is easy to do on their hardware to let the community handle standards. However, many believe that Apple’s weak game tech on the desktop is a strategic mistake. Some are waiting for Apple to allow for vulkan.kext on upcoming macOS versions, which would make it the best gaming OS in addition to the best graphical workstation OS.
In conclusion, open source developers have achieved a remarkable feat by surpassing macOS drivers in real-world performance. While the decision to work on a closed-source proprietary ecosystem can have its drawbacks, the satisfaction of overcoming technical challenges and satisfying one’s curiosity with high-end hardware is enough reason for these developers to continue doing what they do. Ultimately, manufacturers will make the decision about how they allocate resources for software development and support.
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Author Eliza Ng