Khronos Group Releases New OpenGL Spec

Posted by at 6:53 am on August 12, 2014

Khronos Group

The Khronos Group make a number of announcements regarding OpenGL today at SIGGRAPH 2014. On top of a number of industry implementations of OpenGL ES 3.1, the group announced the release of OpenGL 4.5. Khronos also unveiled a new project called the Next Generation OpenGL Initiation, in turn asking for participation in the project to help “define a future standard for high-efficiency access to graphics and compute on modern GPUs.”

OpenGL is an open graphics library that gained large saturation in the 90s due to its ability to render 2D and 3D graphics. The API is currently one of the widest implemented graphics APIs in software, often found in applications ranging from commercial tools like computer aided drafting to entertainment like video games. OpenGL isn’t limited to one platform either, as it has implementation in almost all major operating systems for desktop and mobile devices.

Khronos stated that a number of companies had announced support for several aspects of OpenGL. OpenGL ES 3.1 was released in March, bring desktop OpenGL performance to mobile platforms. Intel, ARM, Nvidia, Vivant and Imagination Technologies were all stated to have reached “full conformance with the latest version of OpenGL ES.” A submission from Qualcomm is current under review. Android L is also supporting OpenGL ES 3.1, as announced during Google I/O earlier in the year. It was also announced that all mainstream browsers now support WebGL.

More notably, Khronos announced the release of the OpenGL 4.5 specification, adding a number of features and improvements while retaining backward compatibility. Direct state access (DSA), flush control, a secure platform for applications, compatibility with OpenGL ES 3.1 API and shader and DirectX 11 emulation features were all added.

DSA is bound to be the most talked about improvement as it brings OpenGL more in line with Direct3D. Direct state access allows the enable state to be queried and modified without binding an object to a context or making it active. This adds some flexibility to applications and middleware that was previously a pain point for OpenGL. The DirectX emulation is probably a welcome feature, as well allowing application porting between OpenGL and Direct3D.

A call was also made for participation in the Next Generation OpenGL Initiative. Khronos launched the program to find a new open graphics standard that would work with modern technologies. The initiative would build a “new ground-up design” for application control over GPUs and CPU workloads in order to get better performance, create a “multithreading-friendly API” with less overhead and a focus on conformance testing. The company indicated that some designs and proposals are already being created.

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