Original post is at the bottom, newest update at the top. ;)
I didn't think to add this before, but you can download a 15-day trial of Modo for free if anyone want to try this for themselves. If you do try it, please take the time to report your results, even just to say there was no noticeable difference. Thanks! Here's the demo download page: http://www.luxology.com/trymodo/
I'm going to ask Luxology if they can shed some light on the situation...
I was searching around for ways to improve graphics performance on OS X and I found an article about disabling an Apple GPU power management kernel extension (I checked and this is loaded on my Mac).
I also noticed that the same games run much better in Windows 7 under Bootcamp on the exact same hardware. These are OpenGL apps and do not use DirectX. Windows also runs much hotter. The case is hot to the touch and the fans run at their max 6,000 RPM pretty much the whole time Windows is running.
In light of these two things—the Apple GPU power management kernel extension and Windows performing better and running hotter—it looks like there is some software layer imposed by Apple that is reducing performance to keep the hardware cooler. -Edit: It seems the GPU power management extension only has to do with dual GPU models, so it wouldn't effect me. Still, it's obvious there's some software-level restraint on performance.
I have not yet tried removing the kernel extension because obviously running Modo gets the performance boost without removing it. There is still something simpler going on here that allows Modo to boost performance (without abandoning power management and melting the components :3 )
I've noticed that, with no other changes, Urban Terror and Second Life (both use OpenGL) will have double their usual framerate if I run Luxology Modo and use it to render a preview image first. I first noticed this effect a few years ago when I started using Modo. Without changing any settings, Unreal Tournament 2004 would be faster and render effects that just didn't show up at all before.
Any ideas why this might be?
Urban Terror, Second Life, and a fully-functional demo of Unreal Tournament 2004 are all available free online if anyone with Modo wants to try for themselves.
I'm still using Modo 301, but I imagine whatever they did to optimize performance has survived. I'm on a MacBook Pro 3,1 (this model only has one GPU; no dual integrated/discrete GPUs) running OS X 10.7.4 (though this was happening before Lion):
Hardware Overview: Model Name: MacBook Pro Model Identifier: MacBookPro3,1 Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor Speed: 2.4 GHz Number of Processors: 1 Total Number of Cores: 2 L2 Cache: 4 MB Memory: 4 GB Bus Speed: 800 MHz Boot ROM Version: MBP31.0070.B07 SMC Version (system): 1.18f5 Sudden Motion Sensor: State: Enabled NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT: Chipset Model: GeForce 8600M GT Type: GPU Bus: PCIe PCIe Lane Width: x16 VRAM (Total): 256 MB Vendor: NVIDIA (0x10de) Device ID: 0x0407 Revision ID: 0x00a1 ROM Revision: 3175 Displays: Color LCD: Resolution: 1920 x 1200 Pixel Depth: 32-Bit Color (ARGB8888) Main Display: Yes Mirror: Off Online: Yes Built-In: Yes VK246: Resolution: 1920 x 1080 @ 60 Hz Pixel Depth: 32-Bit Color (ARGB8888) Mirror: Off Online: Yes Rotation: Supported