World of Warcraft Update and Multithreaded OpenGL in Mac OS X 10.4.8

Blizzard Entertainment released a 2.0.1 upgrade patch to their popular World of Warcraft game on Tuesday.

The update for the Mac version introduced a number of bug fixes and performance improvements, including:

Improved video hardware detection and default settings, especially with Intel video.
Vertex Animation Shaders have been disabled for systems with Intel video.
Improved iTunes key-binding feature for smoothness and track name display.
Fixed a bug where Tutorial Tips would not be marked as viewed correctly on PowerPC Macs.
Fixed a rare crash bug in the audio code.
Improved support for Weather Shaders.
Added support for changing the mouse sensitivity in WoW. Previously, the Mac version ignored the value from the slider in the Interface Options dialog.

Most notable, however, is support for Multithreaded OpenGL for Intel Macs running OS X 10.4.8 or higher. According to the patch notes, depending on hardware, scene and settings, this can raise World of Warcraft framerates "up to a factor of 2X".

We first reported on Multithreaded OpenGL in August, after it was discussed privately at the Worldwide Developers Conference. Multithreaded OpenGL allows 3d games to take full advantage of multi-core and multi-processor Macs which have become so common. Doubling of framerates had been described with the early demos, and it appears that Multithreaded OpenGL was quietly released as part of the Mac OS X 10.4.8 update released in September.

Users should be aware that games need to be rewritten to specifically support Multithreaded OpenGL to see the benefits. Once rewritten, any Intel Mac with a Core Duo, Core 2 Duo or Xeon processor would see benefits. It does not appear that multi-processor PowerPC Macs are supported at this time, but this support is expected with Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard)

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