With Apple’s increasing interest in VR on Mac, the corporate is including important options to its new Steel 2 graphics API to assist high efficiency VR on MacOS.

As a result of VR calls for high-powered graphics and very low latency, specifically tuning the rendering pipeline between the GPU and the headset is essential to sustaining a snug and performant VR experience. Lots of the key tweaks to the VR rendering pipeline have been established on different platforms, and Apple is bringing a lot of them to the up to date Steel 2 API which the corporate says now “provides powerful and specialized support for Virtual Reality (VR) rendering.”

On the ‘VR with Metal 2’ session throughout Apple’s WWDC 2017 convention final month, Apple GPU Software program Group member Rav Dhiraj detailed the brand new options in Steel 2 for VR.

Single-pass Stereo

Since VR headsets present a 3D picture, they should render a person view for every eye; you may assume this could require double the rendering work, however with some sensible rendering strategies you will be rather more environment friendly. Single-pass stereo permits the GPU to render to the left and proper eye with a single draw name as an alternative of 1 for every eye.

Steel 2 now makes this attainable with what Apple calls the Viewport Array function which permits “per-primitive viewport selection in the vertex shader.” As a substitute of rendering the left eye picture after which the proper eye picture, builders outline a texture that’s the decision of each eyes subsequent to one another, then render throughout all the texture in a single move. Telling the renderer which eye every primitive belongs to ensures that it will get rendered within the appropriate eye-region of the feel and with the proper offset to account for the marginally totally different perspective of every (because of the distance between the eyes).


Direct-to-display (also called Direct-mode) permits the GPU to extra immediately entry the VR headset by bypassing elements of the pipeline that will be essential only for conventional displays.

With out Direct-to-display, the working system would see a VR headset like another monitor and easily mirror or prolong the working system view onto it, together with modifying the rendered picture with any OS-induced post-processing. With Direct-to-display, the working system doesn’t establish the headset as a monitor, preserving the present window format and display association. This enables a VR compositor (which warps the initially rendered picture and prepares it for display on headset) to immediately current the rendered picture to the headset’s display with out the OS introducing any further latency, efficiency hits, or picture tampering.

Not only does Direct-to-display scale back the complexity of the VR rendering pipeline, it additionally makes the end-user experience higher as a result of builders and users don’t have to fuss with ‘the place’ on the OS’s desktop the VR utility is displayed—as an alternative it routinely ensures the rendered picture strains up completely with the VR headset’s display and with none interference from the OS.

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Steel 2 will debut with MacOS model ‘Excessive Sierra’ which is presently in beta for builders and on account of launch later this 12 months, supporting all Macs compatible with the current ‘Sierra’ model.

On stage at WWDC 2017, Valve’s Nat Brown overviews the inside workings of SteamVR rendering on MacOS | Picture courtesy Apple

Builders constructing VR apps with instruments like Unreal Engine or Unity received’t want to fret in regards to the above options because the MacOS VR integrations of these engines will make the most of them by default. Builders desirous to constructing native VR purposes or combine with current proprietary recreation/rendering engines on MacOS will wish to particularly adapt assist for these new VR particular options.

Each options and extra are coated in detail throughout the WWDC session, together with an summary of best-practices for VR rendering that will likely be helpful to builders constructing VR apps from scratch.

The publish Apple Adds VR Rendering Essentials to MacOS via Metal 2 appeared first on Road to VR.

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