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Open source devs criticise Apple’s OpenCL support

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 | Posted by Jim Thacker


LuxRender developer Paolo Ciccone has posted an open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook criticising the state of its OpenCL drivers for Mac OS X.

The open-source renderer – recently in the news when Adobe used it as the basis for its #3DPhotoMagic tech demo – uses OpenCL for GPU acceleration as an alternative to Nvidia’s proprietary CUDA.

Apple originally developed the OpenCL framework, and still promotes it over CUDA on its developer site.

OpenCL drivers on OS X: old and broken?
In a blog post explaining his decision, Ciccone, who also develops the Reality plugin linking LuxRender to Poser, describes OS X’s OpenCL drivers as “old” and “broken”.

“The same scenes with the same exact hardware render on Windows and even on Linux,” he wrote. “This is because, on those other OSes, it’s possible to update the drivers independently.”

“On OS X OpenCL is part of the OS and the drivers can only be updated by Apple.”

In the comments thread on the blog post, Ciccone says that the LuxRender team talked to Apple engineers directly “for over a year” in an attempt to resolve the issue before posting the open letter.

Blender devs report similar issues
Ciccone’s complaint was echoed by Blender Foundation chairman Ton Roosendaal, who tweeted that “Blender suffers the same problems. Apple ignores their creative users.”

Roosendaal recently reported that Jens Verwiebe, Blender’s long-time OS X platform maintainer, had decided to “abandon OS X as a serious 3D/graphics development platform” citing “lack of quality GPU support”.

Verwiebe’s duties have been taken over by another developer.

Read the full text of Paolo Ciccone’s open letter to Tim Cook

Hat tip to BlenderNation for bringing this story to our attention.

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6 responses to “Open source devs criticise Apple’s OpenCL support”

  1. Leif pedersen said:

    First Shake, then Xserve (how do I rack mount that new cylinder?), then final cut, now making single socket workstations, no more nvidia, no driver accessibility, terrible image sequence speed, samba issues, quicktime is still 32-bit…etc… how is this surprising to developers?

    10:08 am on Wednesday, May 6, 2015

  2. Wallard said:

    Quicktime has been depreciated. AV Foundation is 64bit. QT for windows is 32bit

    5:48 pm on Wednesday, May 6, 2015

  3. D.B. said:

    Apple strategy is weird at lest for the last 3-4 years. No serious hardware upgrades, no serious software upgrades, developing WATCHES FFS!!!, Apple ?! A sh**** watch is more important then high end industry where they could sell houndrets of thousands-millions of 10k$ workstations or easy or the server market if they had the hardware we need these days. Well from my point of view Apple has gone mainstream downhill and they forgot that quality has made them what they are. Now is just same old beveld sh***t every year, no new real designs and please dont call the trashcan a desing. PS i was and still like the apple OS a lot but a bit sick of the problems it has.

    7:27 am on Monday, May 11, 2015

  4. claas kuhnen said:

    Agree – hardware is so so – but they fit a specific need but that are not power users anymore.

    I wish OS X could just run on any PC – I hate Windows for how badly it is designed and Linux for well what software do one have for it. OS X really is top notch at productivity and media management.

    I work on both 10.10.3 and Win7 daily.

    6:51 pm on Thursday, May 14, 2015

  5. D.B. said:

    Same, i love osx and i wish my 24 cores 64 GB ram dual gtx 970 2X 4GB workstation would run osx not windows 7. Not that is not stable, is very stable, but for example i work often with tons, hundreds of Blackmagic 4k raws shots, and need to sort and view each file, is 2015 and windows has no color tag option no proper sorting tools, no fast preview like one click space preview in osx, i do also a lot of motion graphic in ae where on windows multiprocessing is still a very big issue but on my colleague macpro 12 cores runs butter smooth, not to mention the fragmentation on my hdd 6Tb storage raid drive. Anyway wind 8 is a catastrophic design so is not an option for us, we have it on 2 render nodes stations and is ridiculous. O well i think i need to take a break and switch to linux on my laptop for a while to relax :). I doubt apple will do anything regarding the hardware, best they could do is to put the new 16 cores xeon in the macpro so you could have a 32 cores workstation but still you will be extremely limited in GPU options. Oh, also not to mention that some 3d GPU aplications like videocopilot elements is using on macpro only 1 GPU’s so 6GB from 12 GB video are not used. Are really weird times for power users, and i dont wanna be a dev, i bet they have a lot of headache.

    4:21 pm on Friday, May 15, 2015

  6. Exiameister said:

    I really think the OpenCl drivers on macbook pro is broken. It runs on linux and windows of other computers but in mac it fails its. I also tried a lot of options . I am giving up on devoloping on OpenCL on mac.

    3:11 pm on Saturday, September 19, 2015

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