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OpenGL 3.0 brings 32-bit depth, OpenCL hook

updated 08:40 am EDT, Wed August 13, 2008

OpenGL 3 Features

Standards backer Khronos Group has published the specifications for OpenGL 3.0, the next major revision to the universal graphics programming format. The new version focuses on high dynamic range (HDR) images and now includes support for 32-bit, floating point data both for depth and rendering buffers as well as for textures. The advance allows for more precise color and also permits more accurate calculation for visual effects.

The upgraded standard will also provide tighter integration with the in-progress OpenCL standard for parallel general computing, Khronos adds. While yet to be specific on details, the organization plans to make OpenGL 3.0's visual components interoperate with OpenCL's more generalized work, which can include physics or other math-intensive tasks. Joining the two gives developers the option of more carefully splitting resources for games and other programs that may require both standards.

The refresh will also allow for quicker turnaround times for future upgrades to OpenGL. While the standard will include all possible functionality in a single set of code, the standard will enable profiles that let hardware manufacturers or software developers use very device- or market-specific features without requiring that others support the same functionality with each update.

Other additions will include the choice of using all-integer or half-floating point data to save memory use, conditional rendering that omits more data that the viewer can't see, and arrays for both textures and vertex points that should be more efficient and ease development.

Taking advantage of OpenGL 3.0 will require both support in hardware and in software, although Khronos promises that many of the video devices used in Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows PCs within the past two years will already support the new features. ATI's parent company AMD, Intel and NVIDIA have all contributed to developing the new standard and already promise future hardware designed for the standard in the future. Neither these hardware designers nor Apple have said when their implementations will appear, although OpenCL is known to be launching with Mac OS X Snow Leopard in mid-2009. Microsoft has typically preferred its proprietary DirectX standard over OpenGL and normally leaves most support to companies producing their own software drivers.

Software-only developers including Diablo III developer Blizzard and Cider creator TransGaming have also participated in defining the third edition of OpenGL.

By Electronista Staff


  1. panjandrum

    Junior Member

    Joined: Dec 2004


    Open GL 3 crippled...

    Unfortunately the news about Open GL 3 isn't all positive. The standard has been essentially crippled to maintain compatibility with professional CAD applications. Game developers are vowing to jump ship to Microsoft technologies, meaning that making true Mac and Linux ports in the futures may get more difficult. It is early days still, so hopefully things don't turn out to be as bad as anticipated. But overall Open GL 3 looks to be a terrible disappointment to all those interested in bringing games to more than one platform.

  1. danviento

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2005



    Wait, so enabling people who use the technology to produce the the real world around you (buildings, cars, machines, etc.) over entertainment products is a bad thing? There's much more call (in both numbers and monetary terms) for maintaining licenses and improving capabilities for these areas over porting games to more operating systems.

    That being said, I think OpenGL could push CAD software developers to adopt newer standards- definitely a good thing. However, they have to deal with firms like mine who use everything from 2-year-old versions of their software to 12-year-old ones. You can say that they should all be current, but we have to deal with clients and contractors who don't have the latest and greatest, so we have to be able to work with it all.

    It becomes an issue of who has more pull/dependence- the software firm or the customers. At this point, the customers are the stronger side in terms of adoption to new software, so don't expect a forced move like you're looking for any time soon.

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