The system requirements for each new Macintosh operating system are rarely out-of-step with Apple’s marketing message. Mac OS Mojave is no exception. A big theme for this year’s WWDC keynote was improved performance through optimization, and as expected the Mac OS Mojave system requirements reflect upon that theme.
- MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
- MacBook Air (Mid 2012 or newer)
- MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 or newer)
- Mac mini (Late 2012 or newer)
- iMac (Late 2012 or newer)
- iMac Pro (2017)
- Mac Pro models from late 2013 (plus mid 2010 and mid 2012 models with recommend Metal-capable GPU)
At first glance the Mojave system requirements don’t appear to follow a specific trend. It is only when we examine the minimal hardware requirements for Apple’s next generation graphics API Metal, that we find our answer.
During a “What’s new in Metal” session at WWDC, Apple announced that Metal support in OS X extends to Macs built since 2012.
But why is Apple making Metal a requirement for Mac OS now? The answer is optimization. While every other major operating system has good OpenGl support, Apple’s implementation of OpenGL has been languishing for years. Metal promises to improves the Mac’s graphics for less CPU cycles and fewer watts than OpenGL, but at the cost of compatibility.
As a proprietary system-wide 3D graphics engine, Metal does not benefit from the same large cross-platform developer community OpenGL enjoys. Metal only runs on Apple hardware and drops support for Macs made earlier than 2012. This wouldn’t be a problem for Macintosh Developers if Apple continued to support Metal and OpenGL side by side, but with the release of Mac OS Mojave and iOS 12 Apple is depreciating OpenGL in favor of Metal. Forcing 3D developers to choose Metal if they want to continue continue working with the Mac.
As a long time Mac user I have reasons to be wary of proprietary system-wide 3D graphics engine’s from Apple, but by retiring OpenGL in favor of Metal I believe Apple is making the right choice for its customers. Today’s Apple isn’t in the same beleaguered position it once was in 1999 when it adopted OpenGl. Today’s Apple has the market share needed to move to a new optimized API while keeping developersonboard. Mac OS Majove isn’t the last we will see of OpenGL on the Mac (depreciated features take a long time to disappear), but now we finally know why OpenGL is so poorly supported on Mac OS.