Asahi Linux’s OpenGL support leapfrogs Apple’s on M-chip Macs

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The team behind the Asahi Linux project, which aims to support Linux on Apple Silicon Macs, has achieved a major milestone: its open-source graphics driver now fully supports up to OpenGL 4.6 and OpenGL ES 3.2, surpassing the OpenGL 4.1 support currently offered in macOS.

Asahi developer Alyssa Rosenzweig announced the new driver in a blog post, noting it had to pass “over 100,000 tests” to be deemed officially conformant with the OpenGL standards. This was achieved despite Apple’s GPUs lacking certain features that would have aided implementing these graphics APIs.

“Regrettably, the M1 doesn’t map well to any graphics standard newer than OpenGL ES 3.1,” Rosenzweig explained. “While Vulkan makes some of these features optional, the missing features are required to layer DirectX and OpenGL on top.” 

The team worked around these limitations by utilising compute shaders and other techniques. Now with OpenGL support matching that of 2017 desktop GPUs, work turns to bringing low-overhead Vulkan support to Apple Silicon.

Apple has not updated OpenGL support in macOS beyond version 4.1 since 2013’s OS X Mavericks. While the company has focused on its own Metal API, it continues supporting the deprecated OpenGL to maintain compatibility.

This OpenGL milestone demonstrates Asahi Linux’s progress in not only matching but surpassing Apple’s graphics support on its own hardware, despite lacking official documentation and other resources. Enhanced graphics bolsters Asahi’s goal of delivering a functional Linux desktop experience on Mac silicon.

(Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash)

See also: GitHub invites open-source AI developers to apply for Accelerator

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