Apple Needs A 'Good Computer' Before It Can Get Oculus Rift Support

Apple might have a lot of things going for it, but support for the Oculus Rift isn't one of them. When asked if the Rift would ever grace the Mac, Oculus' Palmer Luckey didn't beat around the bush.

Speaking with Shacknews' Daniel Perez, Luckey had the following to say when queried over the Rift's future with Apple's hardware:

"That is up to Apple. If they ever release a good computer, we will do it."

OK, now before you get too fired up, Luckey elaborated on exactly what "good" means:

"It just boils down to the fact that Apple doesn't prioritize high-end GPUs. You can buy a $6000 Mac Pro with the top of the line AMD FirePro D700, and it still doesn't match our recommended specs."

According to Oculus, the recommend specs demand an "NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD 290". Although not Oculus-approved, the FirePro D700 is apparently good enough, going from benchmarks.

Still, the man does have a point. The majority of Apple's current desktop line-up sports Intel GPUs and while Intel has picked up its graphics game significantly over the years, the hardware just won't cut it when it comes to powering the Rift.


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    That is up to Apple. If they ever release a good computer, we will do it
    Oh Snap
    It just boils down to the fact that Apple doesn’t prioritize high-end GPUs. You can buy a $6000 Mac Pro with the top of the line AMD FirePro D700, and it still doesn’t match our recommended specs
    Ouch, feel the burn.

    They're all AIO or laptop designs, of course they have low power GPUs that won't do the job. Most gaming laptops using mobile GPUs, even high end ones, won't run this very well.

      I refute your argument thusly.... (typing on my laptop with a GTX980, I7, and SSD drive which cost $700 less than the cheapest 15 inch macbook pro.)

        I'd be interested to know what laptop it is and whether that's a legitimate GTX980 or a mobile variant.

          It's a laptop, ithe GPU is a mobile variant, it's an MSI GS60. But the cooling system is the back third of the chassis, so it can actually run flat out unlike a lot of laptops.
          sorry for the late response.

            According to Oculus, no mobile GPU is going to be enough to offer any decent Rift performance. Nvidia have apparently crammed a desktop class GTX980 into a laptop that would do the job although I'd hate to see thr battery life or heat on that.

              Ha, you got me there, fine print in grey on NVIDIA says 980m is not enough, they have the neaky 980 desktop GPU in some few laptops..., BASTARDS! Thats why I bought that one.

                Sorry dude :( but yeah they don't make this stuff clear, the mobile class GPUs probably shouldn't have such a similar nomenclature to the desktop ones.

    All of which smells just a bit like hooey, and point to the biggest flaw with occulus - stupidly expensive base specs to use it at all. The other day a friend bought the cheapest feasible PC, and it was over 2K. The issue with the mac is not the grunt, but the fact that occulus at present only supports a single HDMI input - the mac pro is specifically optimised for multi head, with two reasonably high spec cards to service up to 6 displays and could easily drive each eye independently, but occulus uses a single panel from a single HDMI link.

    Last edited 05/03/16 8:18 pm

      stupidly expensive... a friend bought the cheapest feasible PC, and it was over 2KAnd yet, a Mac Pro with D500s goes for $6500. I can't even find a price for one with D700s.

      The Mac Pro is a capable enough beast at what it's designed for, but it's not designed for VR - which was Luckey's point. Still using GPUs from 2013 (the D700 is based on the 7970, and falls somewhat short of the Oculus-recommended R290) doesn't help either.

      The real problem is simply lack of choice. The modular, multi-vendor PC market can meet any need, but Apple's current all-in-one designs no longer even try (RIP, 2012 Tower Mac Pro).

        All true my point was a little subtle - that two D300 (the cheapest late model pro) actually gives you enough shaders (the occulus needs about 2600) if you drive each eye separately but the occulus can't do that because of its cost saving single panel/link design and cheap optics. Part of the issue is that the occulus explicitly shifts burden of optical processing to the graphics card shaders to save HUD costs , but I am starting to feel the trade off is a bad one - a two panel HUD with decent optics would cost more but could use two much lower spec cards, which would be cheaper overall even on a PC. So Occulus are in effect passing the buck for making their own inferior HUD cheaper, and admittedly possibly lighter.

          It really isn't that simple, I'm afraid. The shader-based optical distortion is a tiny fraction of the work to be done, so giving the headset more expensive optics would barely help.

          The real heavy lifting is in rendering the scene - in high resolution, at minimum 90Hz framerates, once for each eye. That takes a lot of shader power, and bandwidth, and texture memory; high-powered GPUs are a must.

          It's probably true that the D700s in a Mac Pro could manage the job between them, if they could both be effectively utilised. But there are extra challenges involved in using dual GPUs - you have to upload the whole scene (geometry and textures) to both GPUs now, doubling the load on your bus and extra work for your CPU too. This requires significant software support.

          NVIDIA and AMD have SLI/Crossfire techniques that can use multiple GPUs to render a single scene, without requiring support from every app (though can result in framerate hiccups and scaling issues, needing careful tuning). But since Apple doesn't offer this in its drivers, every game would have to manage the stereo rendering across each GPU itself. So even if the Rift and Vive could accept separate display inputs (doable), it's quite unlikely that VR apps would go to the extra effort of supporting dual-GPU rendering for the relatively tiny user-base of Mac Pros.

    lol, macs are so overpriced.

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