OpenGL 2.0 Details
6:00 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story
Tom's Hardware posted an article on Friday by Jon Peddie that describes features of 3Dlabs's proposals for the next generation of the OpenGL API, version 2.0.
As most readers are aware, OpenGL, Mac OS's 3D graphics API of choice, and Direct3D, one of Microsoft's proprietary DirectX APIs, have been competing for the attention of game and video hardware developers.
Though Peddie's article is heavily laden with technical jargon, the main gist is that 3Dlabs, a member of the OpenGL Architectural Review Board (ARB), is seeking to close OpenGL's gap with Direct3D by embracing programmability:
Up to now the attempts at bringing programmability into the API have happened through the extensions procedure. This has contributed to the bewildering number of extensions... (Over 230 OpenGL extensions have been defined. Nvidia's extension documentation is 500+ pages, while the OpenGL 1.3 specification itself is only 284 pages.) So, OpenGL faces a number of critical issues.The article contains in-depth looks at various proposed OpenGL 2.0 features and issues. Those who wish to check out the whole article can find it at Tom's Hardware.
Although today OpenGL can be implemented on a chip, lately the ARB has been working backwards and discussing which features from existing chips to standardize, hardly a positive dynamic for a forward-looking industry standard. OpenGL does not provide hardware independent access to the new programmable processors, so the current direction is to expose multiple hardware architectures through vendor-specific extensions. However, IP (intellectual property) threats have been holding up broader adoption of these extensions. The question being asked is: are IP issues causing a lack of progress or are they a symptom of a deeper problem?
At the ARB meeting held in September 2001, 3DLabs presented its vision for OpenGL 2.0. In the past, SGI was the de facto leader of the ARB and a bellwether for the next generation of extensions. With SGI wisely spending its resources on reorganizing the company, 3DLabs has taken a more aggressive role in the committee...
In fact, one of the first orders of business addressed by the ARB was the need to move beyond the ATI and Nvidia vertex shader extension debate. This was efficiently done as both companies huddled and worked out a strategy to develop an interim vertex shader. The process was both facilitated and devoutly wished for by Apple, which uses graphics technology from both Nvidia and ATI. Suddenly, the ARB looks like a forward-moving body with vision and goals.
The group accepted 3DLabs' offer to develop an architecture for OpenGL 2.0, and they've plotted a clear course. As is probably already obvious, the primary and most immediate goal for OpenGL is to enable and exploit hardware programmability.
3Dlabs: OpenGL 2.0 White Papers
Tom's Hardware: OpenGL 2.0 - Out to Save Programmable Graphics
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