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SIG: Khronos releases OpenGL 4.4 spec at International Computer Graphics Conference

Khronos Group advanced OpenGL specification to version 4.4 — adds Bindless Texture Extension for up to 10x improvement in performance

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It’s SIGGRAPH 2013 in Anaheim, California, this week and today the Khronos Group has announced the release of OpenGL 4.4 specification and OpenCL 2.0 Provisional Specification, both new generations of industry standards for high performance compute and computer graphics across multiple environments. In this report we will focus on OpenGL 4.4.

New in OpenGL 4.4

Version 4.4 specification brings the very latest graphics functionality to the most advanced and widely adopted cross-platform 2D and 3D graphics API (application programming interface). OpenGL 4.4 unlocks capabilities of today’s leading-edge graphics hardware found on motherboards and GPUs, while maintaining full backward compatibility.

Also, OpenGL 4.4 defines new functionality to streamline the porting of applications and titles from other platforms and APIs. In addition, the working group at Khronos has created the first set of formal OpenGL conformance tests since OpenGL 2.0 to drive improved driver compliance with the specification and enhanced portability and interoperability for developers. There is also a new GLSL 4.40 update to the OpenGL Shading Language.

Key New Items

  • Bindless Texture Extension — shaders can now access an effectively unlimited number of texture and image resources directly by virtual addresses. Ray tracing and global illumination algorithms are faster and simpler with unfettered access to a virtual world’s entire texture set
  • Buffer Placement Control — this significantly enhances memory flexibility and efficiency through explicit control over the position of buffers in the graphics and system memory, together with cache behavior control, including the ability of the CPU to map a buffer for direct use by the GPU
  • Efficient Asynchronous Queries — buffer objects can be the direct target of a query to avoid the CPU waiting for the result
  • Shader Variable Layout — detailed control over the placement of shader interface variables, including the ability to pack vectors efficiently with scalar types.
  • Streamlined Porting of Direct3D Applications — A set of core functions have made it even easier to port Direct3D games over to OpenGL 4.4

OpenGL Birds of Feather (BoF) Meeting

There is an OpenGL BOF meeting on Wednesday 24 July 2013 at 7-8pm at the Hilton Anaheim, Ballroom A & B. Attendees are encouraged to learn more about version 4.4 and meet OpenGL implementers and developers.

The Khronos Group is an industry consortium creating open standards to enable the authoring and acceleration of parallel computing, graphics, vision, sensor processing and dynamic media on a wide variety of platforms and devices. Importantly to the CAD and 3D industries covered here at Architosh, Khronos spearheads OpenGL, OpenCL, OpenGL ES, WebGL and WebCL, as well as the COLLADA file format.

Architosh Analysis

The biggest news in version 4.4 is the new Bindless Texture extension. The performance improvement is up to 10x greater and is closer to this multiple of improvement based on if there is a high CPU load in the application during this operation. We will be covering more detail of this update with a review of OpenCL and WebGL as well during our SIGGRAPH 2013 coverage. So stay tuned.