Thursday, November 11, 2010

Updated, Not Panics

   Yesterday, Apple rolled out their OS update for 10.6.5 fixing bugs and increasing performance as usual. If you own a Hackintosh, then you know that any time something new comes out you must be careful. As always, I took the necessary precautions before installation. The biggest one was cloning my drive to a back up drive using Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC). The great thing about CCC is that it can create a bootable back up drive; thus, if anything goes wrong I can boot into that drive and restore all the information to my original drive. I backed everything up and proceeded to upgrade. Luckily, I hit no kernel panics and everything seems to be working fine as of now. Another great thing about updating to 10.6.5 is Valve stated the following for NVIDIA card owners:

- you have the 10.6.5 update installed
- you are running on NVIDIA graphic hardware
- you play with multisampling enabled

you can take advantage of a new option to improve performance. The option will provide a varying amount of benefit depending on which title you are playing, and how often that title uses certain rendering techniques for which this option can potentially provide a speed boost.

In the launch options panel for your game, add this text:


Essentially, the improvements in 10.6.5 allow the game engine (in some cases) to combine what would have taken two separate image operations into a single step in the hardware. This turned up a lot in Portal for example, especially in scenes with reflective or glass surfaces in view.

Again, this only applies if you have 10.6.5, have NVIDIA graphics, and are playing with MSAA enabled. If at some point we see the ATI drivers follow suit, there won't be any problem to enable it there too.

Keep in mind that this won't double your frame rate, on tested scenes it looked to vary between about 5 and 15% overall improvement.

We'd be happy to get your feedback on it once you have tried it out, and if there are no problems we're likely to just enable it by default in future releases.
Now you are probably thinking "Ok.... so that means what exactly?". Well I will tell you! Multisampling is essential making the game look better. Usually when this is done, it slows the game down because you are processing more graphics. Valve is claiming that by adding that code to the launch options panel, your game will run better. By the way, the launch options panel can be found by right clicking on your game, click "Properties", then clicking "Set Launch Options". So that is the it, the new software is out, be careful when upgrading, and try the new code Valve has given gamers.


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