Last year I posted an article denouncing the fact that the OpenCL device drivers included with Mac OS were old and broken. Because of that, LuxRender could not render using the GPU on Mac OS.

That article was also an open letter to Tim Cook, who I had previously emailed asking him to fix the situation. In that occasion I invited the readers to email Mr.Cook as well and a lot of you did exactly so. About two days later I received a phone call from an Apple manager. Incredible isn’t it? Feeling a little apprehensive, I asked him how did they find me so quickly. I mean, he called my cell phone directly. He replied: “You are a registered developer with Apple.” Which, of course, I am, so there was nothing nefarious about Apple finding my phone number. So much for the conspiracy theories.

We discussed the issues about GPU rendering in Mac OS and worked together in testing any new builds of Mac OS. A lot of progress showed up but, at that time, I could not test the new improvements on a proper setup because I never change the OS or the development tools when I’m in the middle of development. Experience proved that doing that can be disastrous and add considerable time to the release date. So I used a laptop instead of my main machine, which is a MacPro with AMD 7950 in it. The laptop uses one of those mobile GPUs, which are never good enough for this kind of tasks. That machine could render some simpler scenes but it would fail at the “Hotel” benchmark of LuxBench. Then I moved to South Carolina and more obstacles added to the busy schedule.

Today I was finally able to install Mac OS 10.11.5, El Capitan on my main desktop system, and I immediately tested the OpenCL rendering. The result is visible in the following figure.

LuxRender GPU-rendering on Mac OS

The Hotel scene used to always crash under Mac OS and so this is a good indication of how stable GPU rendering is now. In addition I used the “Stress test” mode of LuxBench to really load the GPU. It worked like a charm.

I did some testing of my own, using Reality with multiple figures and everything seems to be working well. So, if you want to use GPU rendering with Reality and Mac OS you need to update to the latest version and make sure that you have support for at least OpenCL 1.2. This last thing is very easy to verify: just look in Reality’s Render | Scene Configuration pane and you will see the details about the OpenCL driver.

There is nothing to do about Reality to make this work, the program does not need any update. Just make sure that you have version 4.3 installed and you will all set. The rest is simply to update Mac OS to the latest version, which today is 10.11.5. I’m testing the beta of 10.11.6 on another machine.

So, great news for Macintosh users, and thank you Apple for listening to your customers.

See you next time.

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