OpenGL 4.0 Boosts Cross-Platform Graphics Acceleration

Paul Lilly

It's here, ladies and gentlemen - the Khronos Group today announced the release of the OpenGL 4.0 specification at GDC 2010 in San Francisco.

In short, the latest iteration "brings the very latest in cross-platform graphics acceleration and functionality" to PCs and workstations, but if you're looking for a bullet list of geeky details, we have you covered. Some of the benefits include:

  • two new shader stages that enable the GPU to offload geometry tessellation from the CPU;
  • per-sample fragment shaders and programmable fragment shader input positions for increased rendering quality and anti-aliasing flexibility;
  • drawing of data generated by OpenGL, or external APIs such as OpenCL, without CPU intervention;
  • shader subroutines for significantly increased programming flexibility;
  • separation of texture state and texture data through the addition of a new object type called sampler objects;
  • 64-bit double precision floating point shader operations and inputs/outputs for increased rendering accuracy and quality;
  • performance improvements, including instanced geometry shaders, instanced arrays, and a new timer query.

"The release of OpenGL 4.0 is a major step forward in bringing state-of-the-art functionality to cross-platform graphics acceleration, and strengthens OpenGL’s leadership position as the epicenter of 3D graphics on the web, on mobile devices as well as on the desktop," said Barthold Lichtenbelt, OpenGL ARB working group chair and senior manager Core OpenGL at NVIDIA. “NVIDIA is pleased to announce that its upcoming Fermi-based graphics accelerators will fully support OpenGL 4.0 at launch."

So what does this all mean for Joe Gamer? That remains to be seen, and ultimately decided by developers. OpenGL 4.0 has DirectX 11 in its sights, and Khronos has no qualms about saying so. "OpenGL 4.0 exposes the same level of capability of GPUs as DirectX 11," the company said during a presentation at GDC .

Game on.

Image Credit: Khronos

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