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SIG: Khronos Expands Scope of 3D Open Standard Ecosystem

This latest expansion gives Vulkan the next generation graphics API from Khronos high-efficiency access to graphics and provides applications direct control over GPU accelaration for maximized performance and predictability. The new OpenGL® ES 3.2 specification absorbs AEP functionality to enhance pervasive graphics capabilities across mobile, consumer and automotive devices. As for OpenGL Extensions, one of its greatest strengths is that it was designed to be readily extensible to accommodate new hardware innovations.


SIGGRAPH 2015, Aug 10 – 13 Los Angeles, CA – The Khronos Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies, today announced significantly expanded scope and momentum for its family of open standard 3D graphics APIs.

Vulkan™, the new generation API for high-efficiency access to graphics and compute on modern GPUs, is on track for implementation and specifications later this year. It has received support from Google Android, SteamOS, Tizen, and multiple Linux distributions, including Ubuntu and Red Hat. The new OpenGL ES 3.2 specification absorbs AEP (Android Extension Pack) functionality to enhance pervasive graphics capabilities across mobile, consumer, and automotive devices. A set of OpenGL extensions will also expose the very latest capabilities of desktop hardware.

3D Graphics API State of the Union BOF at SIGGRAPH 2015

Attendees at the SIGGRAPH 2015 Conference in Los Angeles are invited to the Khronos 3D Graphics API BOF at 5-7PM on Wednesday 15th at the JW Marriott LA Live in the Platinum Ballroom Salon F-I, immediately adjacent to the Convention Centre, to hear more details around the latest developments in the 3D ecosystem. Full details of this and other Khronos-related SIGGRAPH sessions at:


Vulkan, which Architosh has detailed extensively in conversations with the Khronos Group, gives applications direct control over GPU acceleration for maximized performance and predictability, and uses Khronos’ new SPIR-V™ intermediate language specification for shading language flexibility. Vulkan minimizes driver overhead and enables multi-threaded performance on mobile, desktop, console, and embedded platforms. In parallel with finalizing the Vulkan specification, Khronos is working to drive an in-depth Vulkan ecosystem to:

  • Reach out to key non-Khronos developers for feedback during specification drafting;
  • Construct an open source Vulkan conformance test suite leveraging and merging with the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) drawElements Quality Program (dEQP) framework to enable direct feedback and contributions from developers to resolve cross-vendor inconsistencies;
  • Develop a Vulkan tools architecture that can load code validation, debugging and profiling layers during development, without impacting production performance. The first open source, cross-vendor Vulkan SDK is being developed by Valve working with LunarG;
  • Build key SPIR-V tools in open source, including translators from GLSL, OpenCL C and C++, a validator to check the correctness of any SPIR-V file and a SPIR-V assembler/disassembler.

“Hardware and software companies need an open 3D API to maximize market reach and minimize porting costs, and Vulkan is being forged by a broad consortium of industry leaders to do exactly that,” said Neil Trevett, president of the Khronos Group. “Vulkan’s adoption and availability on platforms such as Android, Windows, Linux and SteamOS will ensure strong developer support – creating a wealth of high-quality content and applications for any platform that leverages this royalty-free standard.”

OpenGL ES 3.2

The new OpenGL ES 3.2 and OpenGL ES Shading Language 3.20 specifications bring AEP, plus additional functionality, into core OpenGL ES. AEP is a set of OpenGL ES extensions announced last year to bring console-class gaming to Android. OpenGL ES 3.2 will drive the pervasive availability of advanced desktop-class graphics functionality on a large class of mobile, consumer and automotive hardware, and will be adopted by Android. OpenGL ES 3.2 capabilities include:

  • Geometry and tessellation shaders to efficiently process complex scenes on the GPU;
  • Floating point render targets for increased flexibility in higher precision compute operations;
  • ASTC compression to reduce the memory footprint and bandwidth used to process textures;
  • Enhanced blending for sophisticated compositing and handling of multiple color attachments;
  • Advanced texture targets such as texture buffers, multisample 2D array and cube map arrays;
  • Debug and robustness features for easier code development and secure execution.

OpenGL Extensions

The OpenGL extensions released today expose cutting-edge desktop graphics capabilities and pave the way for new versions of OpenGL when this functionality is pervasively available, including:

  • Streamlined sparse texture functionality to more effectively manage multisample sparse textures and uncommitted and unpopulated texture areas;
  • Enhanced shader functionality including interlocks to efficiently ensure proper execution order for multi-pass algorithms, 64-bit integer handling, control of coverage results in sample masks for early fragment testing, enhanced atomic counter capabilities and a 64-bit monotonically incrementing counter to derive local timing information;
  • Control over the number of threads used to compile shaders to accelerate compilation time;
  • Modifiable locations of samples within a pixel to increase multisample antialiasing quality;
  • Lastly, the OpenGL ES 3.2 compatibility extension enables the use of desktop OpenGL to develop mobile applications.

Industry Support

“AMD is thrilled to see the adoption this low-level, high-performance graphics API into an industry standard such as Vulkan” said Raja Koduri, corporate vice president, engineering, AMD. “At AMD, we strive to deliver maximum performance and control into the talented hands of game and graphics application developers everywhere and we see Vulkan as an excellent step in that direction.”

01 - Why the market needs Vulkan the new GPU API that unifies graphics and compute across a diversity of hardware systems. (image: Khronos Group, all rights reserved)

01 – Why the market needs Vulkan the new GPU API that unifies graphics and compute across a diversity of hardware systems. (image: Khronos Group, all rights reserved)

“As a founding member of Khronos, ARM is fully supportive of the latest specification of open standard 3D graphics APIs,” said Jem Davies, vice president of technology, media processing group, ARM. “As the number of graphical devices in everyday life continues to grow, the new OpenGL ES and Vulkan APIs are important steps in enabling game and application developers to provide richer and more energy-efficient user experiences.”

MORE: Khronos speaks to Architosh about the new Vulkan Graphics API: What it Means

“Intel is excited to be part of the continued rapid development of graphics APIs like Vulkan and OpenGL ES 3.2 and to showcase these APIs running on our hardware at SIGGRAPH 2015,” said Aaron Coday, director of visual computing engineering, Intel. “We can’t wait to see what application developers can do with the new features and performance benefits they offer on Intel Architecture.”

MORE: Five Things Apple users might want to know about the new Vulkan Graphics API

“Qualcomm Technologies has been a major contributor to the development of Vulkan which we intend to support with our upcoming Qualcomm Adreno™ GPUs for Qualcomm Snapdragon™ processors. We believe the Vulkan API will significantly reduce single-threaded overhead and increase multi-threaded efficiency, and consequently reduce power consumption for advanced mobile graphics applications,” said Avinash Seetharamaiah, senior director of engineering, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “Furthermore, we think the advancements with the Vulkan API will help mobile game developers more easily and efficiently bring console game content to Snapdragon mobile devices. We look forward to the migration of efficiency improvements from Vulkan to the other widely used APIs from Khronos,” Seetharamaiah added. “We welcome the arrival of OpenGL ES 3.2, bringing features like hardware tessellation and geometry shaders to OpenGL ES, because providing console-class graphics features in the mobile space is a step we support wholeheartedly with our world class Adreno GPU solutions.”

“Samsung enhances consumer’s mobile experience through innovative technologies and we are convinced that Vulkan will enable highly improved gaming experiences to our users,” said Hyunho Park, senior vice president of the system software R&D team at Samsung Electronics. “Samsung has been deeply engaged within Khronos to shape the Vulkan API – especially in the formation of the Window System Integration standard with broad platform support. We will rapidly drive adoption of the Vulkan to the mobile ecosystem to provide a high-performance, cross-platform graphics standards to game developers and consumers.”

About The Khronos Group

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. Khronos standards include Vulkan™, OpenGL®, OpenGL® ES, WebGL™, OpenCL™, SPIR™, SPIR-V™, SYCL™, WebCL™, OpenVX™, EGL™, COLLADA™, and glTF™. All Khronos members are enabled to contribute to the development of Khronos specifications, are empowered to vote at various stages before public deployment, and are able to accelerate the delivery of their cutting-edge media platforms and applications through early access to specification drafts and conformance tests.

More information is available at

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