Virtualisation, 3D Gaming And You

Virtualisation, 3D Gaming And You
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When is a Mac not a Mac? When it’s pretending to be a PC, of course.

Trying to game on an Apple Mac has always been a case of rubbing the side of the monitor like a genie’s lamp and wishing for the best. Or praying for your favourite developer to make a Mac port.

Now, with BootCamp and an Intel platform, Mac gaming is no longer a headache. Sure, it’s not native, but booting into another OS is hardly painful.

However, if you’re still not convinced of the benefits of dual-booting, then maybe virtualisation is for you.Virtualisation and emulation are similar concepts – just as the PlayStation 2 can pose as a PlayStation for your older games, and the Wii’s Virtual Console can be all manner of devices, so too can a Mac be a PC with a little software coaxing.

The problem with virtualisation on Mac (and indeed PC) is that the virtualisation software has to work extremely hard to convince emulated programs that they’re running natively. So far, all your standard bits and pieces like RAM, processors and peripherals can be emulated well.

The exception is 3D accelerators. Exposing a 3D card to a virtualised operating system, say Windows XP running within Mac OS X, is tricky. Getting it to perform at native levels is even harder.

But there is software out there that’s trying. Two options, Parallels and VMWare Fusion (both of which can run on top of Mac OS X), are currently testing the waters of emulated 3D acceleration. Over at Atomic: Maximum Power Computing, there’s an article up that combines the theoretical principles with practical examples.

From the article:

Both Parallels and VMWare Fusion now experimentally support Direct3D/OpenGL hardware acceleration within Windows XP as the client OS. This gives us free run of all those lovely shader pipelines and hardware transform/lighting streams. Creating an ideal environment for this schizophrenic gaming powerhouse is a fine art.

Writer Jake Carroll has a go at getting Half-Life 2, Supreme Commander and Quake 4 running in virtualised environments.

While it’s all still experimental, it is nonetheless an interesting look at a future where games can be played on a single platform.

Virtual machine gaming [Atomic MPC]


  • For gaming on a Mac OS X, you should try out Codeweaver’s Crossover – purely because it has a kickass video ( on comparing TeamFortress2 with Fusion/Parrallels and Crossover. Crossover isn’t emulation as it uses Wine (Wine Is Not Emulation:) and thus should be faster then the other competitors. Oh and you don’t need a Windows key for it to work.

    Reality is, they all suck. I’ve played games through Parrallels, Fusion and Crossover and they’re all laggy, slow and buggy.

    Game companies like Blizzard/iD show that you can make beautiful games without relying on DirectX and have it cross-platform.

    The future of Mac gaming is not emulation/virtualization – but native titles….

    now if we can just kick out Gabe Newell from Valve, we might just have a chance of bringing some Steam goodness to the Mac. 😛

  • If we can just convince Mac users to only play Pokemon and Street Fighter, no one would have to worry about rendering in 3D…

  • You could always just install a Mac OS on your PC 🙂

    Users of core2x PCs have had the option for a while now, its alot easier than trying to do things the other way around imo.

  • People are so hang up with what games can run on Apple (wither thorough OSX or Bootcamp) that they forget that all the compatibility in the world won’t help if the GPU is rubbish. The only reasonable option given by Apple for gamin is the high end Mac-pro with it’s 8800gt. All other Mac products are seriously lacking in 3d power.

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