External GPU Support For Mac Confirmed, Apple Selling Its Own VR Dev Kit


Apple detailed the next iteration of its desktop operating system, macOS High Sierra, at the Worldwide Developers Conference 2017 yesterday. The new update brings Apple’s updated Metal 2 graphics technology. The company has now confirmed that as part of this graphics technology, Macs that are compatible with High Sierra will receive external GPU support. They will be able to drive those GPUs via the Thunderbolt 3 port.

This is going to enable developers to create virtual reality content on notebooks that don’t have internal hardware specifications to support such graphic-intensive environments. This also leaves the door open for plug-and-play compatibility for virtual reality headsets with Mac machines.

Apple is helping developers get started with VR development by selling its own external graphics enclosure. It’s a Sonnet external GPU package which features an AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB VR-ready graphics card with a 350 watt power supply and Thunderbolt 3 support.

Developers who opt for this enclosure will also receive $100 which they can use to purchase the HTC Vive virtual reality headset. The only caveat here is that you need to be a member of Apple’s developer program in order to purchase this kit.

It’s a good option for developers who have always felt the need for more graphics processing power in order to properly work on VR and 3D apps. This is a good start for the VR community on Mac which has so far been closed off to this technology.

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