ATI, graphics business unit of Advanced Micro Devices, late on Thursday unveiled the industry’s first driver that supports OpenGL 3.3 and OpenGL 4.0 application programming interfaces (APIs). The release allows software developers to start implementing next-generation APIs using ATI Radeon HD hardware, however, it also shows that ATI is not yet ready with a WHQL driver that supports OpenGL 3.3/4.0.
“The fact that we are able to announce our support for OpenGL 3.3 and OpenGL 4.0 at launch is an incredible feat on the part of our OpenGL software team, and speaks volumes to the commitment and continued support that the entire team brings to the many developers utilizing OpenGL,” said Dave Erskine, a spokesman for AMD’s graphics products group.
The Khronos Group recently announced OpenGL 4.0 API that introduces a lot of advanced graphics processing functionality as well as integrates OpenCL capabilities so that to enable GPU computing acceleration in future software. Meanwhile, the OpenGL 3.3 specification, together with a set of ARB extensions, enables as much OpenGL 4.0 functionality as possible on previous generation GPU hardware; providing maximum flexibility and platform coverage for application developers.
The functionality introduced in OpenGL 3.3 is supported by all of ATI Radeon HD discrete graphics products – both consumer and professional graphics – released since the spring of 2007, which means ATI Radeon, ATI FirePro and ATI FireGL graphics cards released after that time provide hardware support for OpenGL 3.3, with today’s beta driver fully enabling the additional functionality introduced in the API.
At the same time, the newest top-end graphics products, the ATI Radeon HD 5900- and HD 5800-series, are fully compatible with the OpenGL 4.0 standard, including tessellation and integration with the OpenCL API, enabling GPU acceleration in future OpenGL applications. In addition, the driver enables all OpenGL 4.0 functionality on ATI Radeon HD 5400, HD 5500, HD 5600 and HD 5700 series graphics cards, with the exception of double precision support, a feature that will be enabled in these products at a later date via emulation.
“In fact, with the launch of these updates, industry pundits have commented that OpenGL is in for a renaissance of sorts. As a company that believes in and encourages open and industry standards, maintaining OpenGL as a strong and viable graphics API is important to AMD,” added Mr. Erskine.
ATI Catalyst OpenGL 4.0 preview drivers for Windows 7, Vista, XP as well as Linux operating systems can be downloaded from AMD’s web-site.
ATI’s OpenGL 4.0 preview driver is released just days before Nvidia promises to release its OpenGL-supporting drivers for its next-generation Nvidia GeForce GTX 400-series graphics cards based on Fermi architecture when such boards become available.