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Apple unveils Metal, iOS 8 tech designed to boost iOS gaming

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Metal, a technology designed to increase the efficiency of iOS gaming, is coming to Apple's mobile operating system in iOS 8, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi announced today during the company's WWDC keynote.

The technology will reduce OpenGL overhead, giving developers deeper access to a device's hardware. Designed for Apple's A7 system on a chip hardware, it will offer efficient multithreading, shader technology and more.

A slide behind Federighi touted support from Crytek, Unity, Electronic Arts and Epic Games. Federighi used Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, running on the console version of its Frostbite engine and pushing 1.3 million triangles, and The Collectables, a Crytek game, to demo the software. EA said last year that it was working on a mobile version of Frostbite.

Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney appeared on stage to show a demo built in Unreal Engine 4 called Zen Garden (pictured below). Metal technology offers 10-fold increase in rendering efficiency, Sweeney said. Zen Garden will be free when iOS 8 is released this fall. iOS 8 will be available to developers as a beta today.

In a 2010 Apple event, Epic unveiled Epic Citadel, a tech demo showing Unreal Engine 3 running on iOS devices. It was later ported to Android and HTML 5.

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