Graphics improvements make OS X Mountain Lion snappy: More speed could come when Apple updates to OpenGL 4.2

“Has Mountain Lion been feeling faster for you compared to Lion on the same machine? It’s probably not just you: Mountain Lion appears to include improved graphics drivers and low-level graphics subsystem improvements,” Chris Foresman reports for Ars Technica. “According to our testing, these improvements result in an approximate performance increase of up to 10 percent.”

“Those improvements can make your current hardware feel faster despite the fact that your CPU can’t magically crunch numbers any faster,” Foresman reports. “The changes also lay the foundation for Apple to update OS X’s OpenGL support in a more timely manner, which could potentially lead to better graphics performance in the future.”

Foresman reports, “Improved drivers appear to be working in concert with overall improvements to OS X’s graphics subsystem. According one source who spoke to Ars on the condition of anonymity, Apple has significantly altered the architecture of the graphics subsystem in Mountain Lion, cleaning up the interface between OpenGL and drivers in order to implement upcoming support for OpenGL 4.2. OS X currently supports version 3.2…”

Much more, including benchmarks, in the full article here.


    1. But as for “perceived speed”, it feels much slower for me: animations are dropping frames and screen tearing is noticeable. Ghosting and flickering is also very apparent in Safari.

      1. my 28 inch iMac used to kernel panic 3 to 4 times a day … More if I was using Safari to download something … Since installing Moutain Lion on release day … Not one kernal panic crash…

      2. this should not be happening. Do a time machine backup of all your information, and then boot into recover mode. use disk utility to wipe your hard drive, then reinstall a clean copy of mountain lion.

        Manually migrate all your information back to your system from your backups.

        Your machine will feel amazingly snappy.

        I actually had upgraded from Lion to ML, but because it felt so slow, I went ahead and did a wipe + clean install.

        It was totally worth it 🙂

    2. Cinebench, though widely quoted, is not a good benchmark of graphics (nor OpenGL) performance or efficiency. It only predicts how well Maxon’s Cinema4D will run.
      Unfortunately Cinema4D is well known to be optimized (very) specifically for MS’s openGL implementation (which is decidedly & intentionally nonstandard) so using it for a measuring stick for OSX, openGL updates is very likely complete folly.

  1. I was reluctant to buy Mountain Lion, despite the low price, since Lion was a letdown.

    Glad I did. Besides the new features, Apple fixed something under the hood. Safari launches and gets me websites in maybe 10 or 15 seconds. When I open Mail and Safari at the same time, the spinning beach ball is gone. Mail comes up fast, as does Text Edit.

    And the Dictation app is still fun to play with. It even understood me when I gave it “antidisestablishmentarianism.” It was once regarded as the longest English word, aside from scientific/chemistry names.

  2. I’ll believe OpenGL 4.2 support well after it actually happens. Apple has never supported the latest version of OpenGL often being one or two minor versions behind. OpenGL was ratified over a year ago (meaning all the participants, including Apple, had access to the draft spec months before that). OpenGL 4.1 was ratified over two years ago (again, Apple had access to that draft spec long before that). OpenGL 4.0 was ratified a few months before 4.1. Apple could have, and should have been working on 4.x three years ago. Hell, OpenGL 3.2 (the latest version Apple supports) was ratified three years ago!

    As I said, I’ll believe OpenGL 4.2 support a while after it actually happens and people have tested it to see if it really does fully support the standard. At the rate Apple supports OpenGL I expect that to happen in about 2015 or when Open GL 5.3 is ratified, which ever comes later.

    1. I’m either an optimist or a futurist, but I believe Apple is going to be paying extremely close attention to OpenGL in the future.

      My reasoning is that there isn’t a lot of tweaking and tech integration for Apple to add to whatever will be the sequel to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, EXCEPT in 3D with regard to the GUI. Many of us have just about given up on seeing a decent user-friendly 3D GUI on modern computers. I suspect Apple is bashing away behind the scenes trying to hammer out some nice 3D GUI concepts that have the Apple feel of being intuitive. All the supporting technology is in place: Touch and gesture tech, hardware acceleration, fast GPUs with lots of cache, OpenGL software support…

      Watch the rumor mill start to grind. Blame me. 😉

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