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Graphics Upgrades Technology

OpenGL 4.1 Specification Announced 167

WesternActor writes "The Khronos Group has announced full details for the OpenGL 4.1 specification. Among the new features of the spec, which comes just five months after the release of the 4.0 specification, is full support for OpenGL ES, which simplifies porting between mobile and desktop platforms. It'll be interesting to see what effect, if any, this new spec has on the graphics industry — more compatibility could change the way many embedded systems are designed. There are lots of other changes and additions in the spec, as well." Reader suraj.sun contributes insight from Ars, which brings OpenGL's competition into focus: "OpenGL 4.0 brought feature parity with Direct3D 11's new features — in particular, compute shaders and tessellation — and with 4.1, the Khronos Group claims that it is surpassing the functionality offered in Microsoft's 3D API. ... Whether this truly constitutes a leapfrogging of Direct3D 11 is not obvious."
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OpenGL 4.1 Specification Announced

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  • by ciaran_o_riordan ( 662132 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:01PM (#33039496) Homepage

    Anyone following this enough to know if attempts were made to resolve the patent issues?

    * []

    Or did new issues surface? Any pointers would be appreciated, thanks.

  • by grantek ( 979387 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:02PM (#33039506)

    Simply put, yes, OpenGL is awesome. The fuss over OpenGL 3.0 was because it wasn't as awesome as it could have been at that time.

    It's also available on many more platforms than D3D.

  • Re:Announced, but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:07PM (#33039546) Journal
    According to these guys [] Nvidia will have test drivers sometime this week. Since that is also when the spec becomes generally available, it seems safe to assume that the spec was written in fairly close consultation with at least the big graphics players.

    I assume AMD's graphics drivers have also been in development, in concert with the spec, for some time, and will be available soonish, albeit with the usual lag after Nvidia. As for the various embedded guys, hard for me to say. I'm sure that having OpenGL ES made a proper subset, as opposed to a somewhat different near-subset, will be attractive for mobile developers, since it will make desktop to phone/console/embedded and back portability easier; but I don't know whether the embedded graphics hardware that is out there now can be updated with just drivers, or whether some 4.0 features will require an upcoming generation of silicon.

    As for games, the first tech demo/fanboy wank publicity stunt will probably be available about 15 minutes after the Nvidia drivers. Widespread use might be a while.
  • Re:Just maybe... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Beelzebud ( 1361137 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:42PM (#33039822)
    Not totally true. Hardware tessellation is pretty sweet if you have a machine powerful enough to do it properly.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @10:43PM (#33039824)

    PS3/Wii/DS/3DS/PSP/iPhone/Android/Linux/MacOS all use OpenGL variants. I think it's safe to say that the 800lb gorilla has to share the room with another ape.

  • Re:Wednesday (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SplashMyBandit ( 1543257 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @11:06PM (#33040000)

    The flight simulator Il-2 has the choice of switching between OpenGL or Direct X. In fact, it is also written mostly in Java with much of the graphics in C++. This allowed it to be ported to the console in the form of Wings of Prey. The flexibility of OpenGL allowed this company to port easily, and made them money.

    The flight simulator X-Plane (now taking the crown for civilian flight simulators since Microsoft has shut down the studio that produced the Flight Simulator line) uses OpenGL. It's creator says in an interview that the choice of OpenGL was the correct one since he was able to port his product to the iPhone in a matter of weeks. This meant he personally got around 3.5 million US dollars in revenue in around a month. OpenGL made sound business sense to him. Here's the interview with him if you are interested: []

    If you want to make money on the iPhone/iPad, Android, Windows, Linux, Mac, Unix workstation visualization, embedded electronics such as FAA approved in-cockpit instruments etc then OpenGL is the correct choice. If OpenGL didn't run on Windows then clearly it would be a bad choice, but the fact is OpenGL works well on Windows *and* just about every other platform too. This includes games.

    DirectX may be just as good technically but the fact that it is not portable means it is a non-starter for many applications for both technical and commercial reasons.

  • Re:Sound (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @12:21AM (#33040538)

    Khronos defines a complete ecosystem of APIs that provide the functionality of DX beyond just graphics
    - OpenMAX IL for close to the metal sound, video and image processing
    - OpenSL ES for advanced audio - including 3D positional audio - that can be accelerated over OpenMAX IL
    - OpenKODE for IO and cross -platform access to other OS resources

    Plus - EGL links OpenGL ES and OpenMAX IL for tighter video/graphics integration on mobile than most desktop systems - and EGL is coming to the desktop I hear..

    Most of these have open source implementations underway - the Linux community should consider adopting them for a mobile/desktop flexible, fully-integrated,contemporary graphics/media stack.

  • Re:Wednesday (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chammy ( 1096007 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @12:52AM (#33040720)
    Wine is capable of translating DirectX to OpenGL in realtime, which is how you're able to play that in Linux.
  • by V!NCENT ( 1105021 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @01:42AM (#33041012)

    Absolutely true and not flamebait: []

    OpenGL 3.0 was a disaster because it should have been revolutionary but instead it was an extended 2.1 to maintain compatibility with workstation apps (as in graphical workstations).

    Today however OpenGL is way ahead of Direct3D. One of its killer features is OpenCL compatibility. GLSL (OpenGL Shading Language) is now at version 4.00 and since OpenGL 3.2 supported geometry shaders.

    Now is it relevant? Are you kidding me? In this day and age of all these platforms it is _THE_ library. Direct3D is only viable on Micrsoft platforms.

    Android, Playstation3, Mac OS X, iOS, Linux, Windows. They all have OpenGL support and thus anyone is now porting, if they haven't already and newcommers all use OpenGL. In fact all the CAD apps have been using OpenGL solely! All the big players and studios are using OpenGL now.

    Now the real question is; What is Microsofts next move to stay in the game?

  • Re:Wednesday (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @02:39AM (#33041156)

    Direct3D still has a larger feature set

    No, it does not.

    features like Tesselation

    ATI cards have supported tessellation through an OpenGL extension for a number of years, and tessellation is a core OGL feature as of version 4.0.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @04:10AM (#33041504)

    Most games on the PS3 actually don't even use OpenGL on it. Thay actually use GCM which is very low level API for the PS3 GPU.

  • by TheTurtlesMoves ( 1442727 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @04:18AM (#33041540)

    The fuss over OpenGL 3.0 was because it wasn't as awesome as it could have been at that time.

    I got the impression that lots of DX coders just jump into forums and flamed away. Most of the pro opengl devs I know where not too unhappy with it. Now looking back I can say quite a few of them think it was a great idea not to push the object model too early... for the simple reason that vendors still were working out what is easy to put in drivers/hardware.

    Even on this thread its pretty clear that quite a few comments about what opengl is not, has been made by folks that clearly don't code opengl.

  • Re:Sound (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @05:01AM (#33041758) Homepage Journal

    ``But lets be honest. Sound in Linux has always been a cluster fornication.''

    I don't know, man. OSS always worked for me. Then came ESD, which worked on top of OSS but allowed multiple applications to play sounds at the same time. I actually fell from my chair the first time that happened. I had never heard that before. It didn't happen on Windows at the time, despite Windows being king then. Clusterfornication? I wouldn't say so.

    Then we got ALSA. I never really understood the point of that. Eventually, free OSS drivers stopped being available for my hardware, but ALSA drivers were available, so I switched. It worked, although a few applications I used needed configuration changes, because they tried to use OSS and failed, ALSA's OSS emulation notwithstanding. I understand other people's experience with ALSA hasn't been as good, but I suspect that has something to do with them switching years before I did.

    There have been several other audio systems that I never understood the point of and never used. And then came PulseAudio. What on Earth happened there? Seriously. One day, I was sitting happily thinking how Linux distros had matured so much over the years, and then suddenly, millions of computers went silent, and a million voices cried out in pain and frustration. I don't know what benefits PulseAudio has, but it's clear that somebody screwed up by mass-deploying it when it clearly didn't work reliably yet. I actually think that this debacle has single-handedly reduced the reputation of sound on Linux from "it works, as long as your hardware is supported, which it generally is" to "you are lucky if it works at all, and even luckier if it still works tomorrow". Congratulations, that was quite an accomplishment.

  • by robthebloke ( 1308483 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @07:19AM (#33042360)

    opengl may be available on a lot of platforms but who cares it's not like you can port crysis from pc to an iphone in a day just because it's in opengl(I know it's not in opengl, it's just an example)

    So, you install a brand new ATI/Nvidia card into your WinXP box. Want geometry shaders? Want tesselation? Want DX11 features on Vista? You're going to need to use OpenGL. The single biggest advantage that OpenGL has right now is windows support.

    I'm not a game developer but I think that directx/opengl can easily be abstracted by the engine to use whatever is best on the platform it runs, something like Qt, and I think valve is doing that with the source engine right now

    Correct. It's how most devs approach the problem. I for one have made a set of OpenGL classes that exactly mirror the D3D11 interface. It's really not hard to do. The only thing you have to worry about is porting shaders between HLSL/GLSL (which is actually trivial), although you can always use cg if you want an even easier life....

  • Re:Sound (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @03:48PM (#33049698) Homepage Journal

    ``I'll add historical revisionism to that list.''

    Yes. A very bad thing in my book, so it stings me that I would have committed that, even if unintentionally (those statements were based on my recollections from the time - which AC clearly thinks are wrong).

    ``Linux was never very early with desktop eye candy, sound and that sort of thing. It was a good UNIX clone but the big iron multi-user servers were hardly the greatest example in that respect. It took a long time before there was a simple way to create "normal" desktop users and not just a shell account, I remember having to manually put users in the "audio" group to get sound.''

    Well, see, the thing about Linux being early is that it really depends on what you are looking at. There was a Linux distribution (Softlanding Linux System) featuring a 32-bit pre-emptive multitasking OS with a GUI and a degree of compatibility with applications written for *nix, DOS, and 16-bit Windows before there was Windows 95. That's quite an impressive feature set before the family of operating systems that Linux would be seen as a competitor to (namely the consumer versions of the Windows operating system) even existed!

    Of course, virtually nobody actually knew about Linux at the time, and when Windows 95 was released, it had a lot of software and drivers written for it, a lot of new hardware was released specifically for Windows 95 (and the newly introduced Plug-n-Play), and I am sure all that completely blew contemporary Linux distros out of the water in terms of the experience one would get when installing the OS and trying to use it with ones existing or off-the-shelf hardware and software. There are a lot of similar stories, where Linux had something early on, but was later completely overtaken by Windows. For example, I remember seeing WLAN support in Linux long before most people had even heard of it, but after that we got into the situation where having your WLAN card work in Windows was a given, whereas in Linux it was hit and miss, missing more often than hitting. I can see where the impression that Linux is always playing catch-up is coming from, but it got a lot of things a lot earlier than many people know.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents