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The Khronos Group has announced the release of the OpenGL 4.4 specification, bringing the very latest graphics functionality to the API (application programming interface). OpenGL 4.4 unlocks capabilities of modern graphics hardware while maintaining full backwards compatibility. Also, OpenGL 4.4 defines new functionality to streamline the porting of applications and titles from other platforms and APIs.

“The delivery of conformance tests for OpenGL 4.4 is a significant milestone – as it is vital for developers to be able to rely on the API they are trusting to accelerate their content across multiple platforms. The OpenGL ARB is committed to continue to deepen communications with the developer community so we can continue to build OpenGL functionality that creates real-world business opportunities for the 3D industry,” said Barthold Lichtenbelt, OpenGL ARB working group chair.

New functionality in the OpenGL 4.4 specification includes:

  • Buffer Placement Control (GL_ARB_buffer_storage): 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 a GPU.
  • Efficient Asynchronous Queries (GL_ARB_query_buffer_object): Buffer objects can be the direct target of a query to avoid the CPU waiting for the result and stalling the graphics pipeline. This provides significantly boosted performance for applications that intend to subsequently use the results of queries on the GPU, such as dynamic quality reduction strategies based on performance metrics.
  • Shader Variable Layout (GL_ARB_enhanced_layouts): Detailed control over placement of shader interface variables, including the ability to pack vectors efficiently with scalar types. Includes full control over variable layout inside uniform blocks and enables shaders to specify transform feedback variables and buffer layout.
  • Efficient Multiple Object Binding (GL_ARB_multi_bind): New commands which enable an application to bind or unbind sets of objects with one API call instead of separate commands for each bind operation, amortizing the function call, name space lookup, and potential locking overhead.  The core rendering loop of many graphics applications frequently bind different sets of textures, samplers, images, vertex buffers, and uniform buffers and so this can significantly reduce CPU overhead and improve performance.
  • Streamlined Porting of Direct3D applications: A number of core functions contribute to easier porting of applications and games written in Direct3D including GL_ARB_buffer_storage for buffer placement control, GL_ARB_vertex_type_10f_11f_11f_rev which creates a vertex data type that packs three components in a 32 bit value that provides a performance improvement for lower precision vertices and is a format used by Direct3D, and GL_ARB_texture_mirror_clamp_to_edge that provides a texture clamping mode also used by Direct3D.

Extensions released alongside the OpenGL 4.4 specification include:

  • Bindless Texture Extension (GL_ARB_bindless_texture): Shaders can now access an effectively unlimited number of texture and image resources directly by virtual addresses.  This bindless texture approach avoids the application overhead due to explicitly binding a small window of accessible textures.  Ray tracing and global illumination algorithms are faster and simpler with unfettered access to a virtual world's entire texture set.
  • Sparse Texture Extension (GL_ARB_sparse_texture): Enables handling of huge textures that are much larger than the GPUs physical memory by allowing an application to select which regions of the texture are resident for ‘mega-texture’ algorithms and very large data-set visualizations.

Both AMD and Nvidia Corp. have already publicly endorsed OpenGL 4.4.

Tags: OpenGL, AMD, ATI, Radeon, Nvidia, Geforce, Tegra


Comments currently: 12
Discussion started: 07/26/13 05:14:39 AM
Latest comment: 11/30/15 11:13:13 PM
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Current graphics card supports this?
0 0 [Posted by: Carlos Alex  | Date: 07/26/13 05:14:39 AM]
- collapse thread

I think so. We need some drivers update tho
0 0 [Posted by: TAViX  | Date: 07/26/13 04:32:07 PM]
Radeon HD 5000+ and GeForce 400+ support OpenGL 4.4.
0 0 [Posted by: mmstick  | Date: 08/03/13 06:48:20 AM]

Amazing.... I think OpenGL has a lot of opportunity after new generation consoles releases. since next generation consoles are x86 based, game developers can port games directly to pc without converting OpenGL to inefficient directX code. I believe OpenGL is much more efficient than DirecX and the biggest advantage is that OpenGL games can be played on Linux platforms as well. I even get the feeling that Linux OS user base will increase tremendously if lots games are OpenGL based. The ony draw back of Linux is its lack of DirecX games and I hopes that may change in the future. OpenGL rockz
0 0 [Posted by: tks  | Date: 07/26/13 08:48:57 AM]
- collapse thread

Well, not to be the Devil's advocate, but as far as I know is much more easy to code for Direct3D nowadays, because of included libraries and stuff, and also way less programming. Maybe I am wrong...
0 0 [Posted by: TAViX  | Date: 07/26/13 04:35:02 PM]
Try debugging D3D code...not so easy. You have to rely on the unknown when it comes to D3D unlike OpenGL. The only thing OpenGL lacks is proper, easy to read documentation for newcomers really.

One of the great things about OpenGL though is you can make your own extensions to it so you are not bound by a specific standard. Your extension may even get standardized into OpenGL specification for the next update to the standard as well. Therefore, you don't really have to worry about buying a new GPU or installing a new version of your OS just to get the benefits of a new standard. Windows XP users could get D3D10/11-level graphics support on their D3D11 GPUs via OpenGL if games used it.
0 0 [Posted by: mmstick  | Date: 08/03/13 05:43:09 AM]
Actually, DX9 has come to Linux actually. It still remains to be seen what will become of it though. The primary use of the native implemention of DirectX would be Wine of course.
0 0 [Posted by: mmstick  | Date: 08/03/13 06:50:59 AM]


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