Oxide Games developer Dan Baker helped answer some questions we had about AMD’s new API. Oxide’s upcoming game, Star Swarm, will support Mantle out of the gate and the company has been very vocal about Mantle which it believes can help all gamers and also start a dialogue about the future of APIs on the PC.
Maximum PC's blunt no-BS review policy may lead some folks to believe that we're a bunch of hardassed curmudgeons, but actually, we're big softies sometimes. We love cuddling up with a nice, warm graphics card, for example (assuming the proper cooling systems are in place, of course). And everyone enjoys a good open-source project. OpenGL combines the best of both worlds; awesome graphics backed by open-source standards. Today, the Khronos Group, the nonprofit organization in charge of OpenGL, gave the platform a boost with the release of the OpenGL 4.2 standard.
The Catalyst 10.7 drivers for graphics cards isn't the only piece of software AMD released this week. The chip maker also announced its OpenGL ES 2.0 driver, the first driver for desktops to support WebGL, which is designed to bring plug-in free 3D graphics to the Internet.
"AMD is a steadfast supporter of industry standards, including those that unlock the power of GPU acceleration," said Manju Hegde, corporate vice president, AMD Fusion Experience Program. "At AMD, we see the future of computing as being intensely visual, requiring a variety of rich media 2D and 3D applications. With functionality like the OpenGL ES 2.0 driver and technology breakthroughs made possible by AMD Fusion APUs, we aim to deliver the ideal development platform for immersive experiences both online and natively on virtually any PC form factor."
In addition to porting 3D to the Web, AMD's new driver also makes it possible for software developers to use desktop PCs and workstations powered by AMD graphics when creating apps based on OpenGL ES 2.0 for smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices, AMD said.
Apple (Safari), Google (Chrome), Mozilla (Firefox), and Opera (Opera Software) are all contributors of the WebGL Working Group.
Since WebGL depends on the OpenGL graphics API, it is better suited to Linux and OS X as compared to Windows. But Google has just announced a new initiative called Almost Native Graphics Layer Engine, or ANGLE, to “layer WebGL's subset of the OpenGL ES 2.0 API over DirectX 9.0c API calls.” For those not comfortable with the technical argot, ANGLE will help execute WebGL on Windows systems using DirectX 9.0, and “without having to rely on OpenGL drivers.”
According to Henry Bridge, a product manager at Google, ANGLE will also prove to be useful for those developing applications for mobile and embedded devices. “ANGLE should make it simpler to prototype these applications on Windows, and also gives developers new options for deploying production versions of their code to the desktop,” he wrote on the Chromium Blog.
Boxee unveiled their new UI today, and it’s quite the departure. The entire front page has been redesigned, looking much more sophisticated and packing new functionality. The front page now focuses on the personal queue, featured content, and recommendations. The new menu system allows for local files to be integrated with streaming content (both free and payed). There will also be three new apps: The Escapist, Suicide Girls, and TV Guide to the Web Clicker.
The new interface was made possible by the switch from an OpenGL graphical engine to DirectX. Nvidia has even been helping Boxee optimize the interface for use on the Ion platform with Flash 10.1 and DXVA. No details on when the new beta will be available to users, but we can’t wait.
It may even be possible to see support for WebGL in native WebKit browsers in as little as 6 months. Safari and Chrome are probably on the forefront of this technology, as they are based on WebKit. Firefox, while based on the Gecko engine, has an extension capable of displaying a WebGL 3D canvas. As for Internet Explorer, don’t hold your breath. Microsoft still has yet to implement HTML5, let alone upcoming technologies.
The ink was hardly dry on the Khronos Group's August 11th announcement that they released the OpenGL 3.0 API specification, when Nvidia releases beta drivers supporting the standard. These new drivers implement the OpenGL 3.0 API and the GLSL 1.30 shading language for both Windows XP and Vista on selected GeForce and Quadro videocards. This isn’t totally unexpected since Nvidia is a member of the Khronos Group
“OpenGL 3.0 is a significant advance for graphics standard and we’re proud that NVIDIA has played a major role in developing it,” said Barthold Lichtenbelt, Manager, Core OpenGL Software at NVIDIA and chair of the OpenGL working group at Khronos. “OpenGL 3.0 will be a first-class API on both GeForce and Quadro boards. Shipping drivers two days after this new specification is released demonstrates our strong commitment to the OpenGL developer community and our partners who rely on the standard.”
There has been much speculation on how the OpenGL 3.0 API will compete with DirectX 10. Some truly great games were made with previous OpenGL API specs like Far Cry, any of the Quake series, Starsiege: Tribes, and the original Half-Life. These games are pretty long in tooth, and newer games have been made with Direct X, including the engine that drives Valve's Source engine.
We can look forward to developers putting out some new games in the future using this standard. With all they accomplished with OpenGL 2.1, I am pretty excited about what’s coming.
We had an opportunity to speak with id co-founder John Carmack after the big EA press conference yesterday (where id surprisingly announced a partnership with EA to publish Rage). We grilled the legendary game developer (and part-time rocket scientist) about id's post-apocalyptic shooter, the state of gaming graphics, and what his plans are after id Tech 5. Rage looks be a drastic departure from the traditional id FPS, not only in gameplay style (open worlds with vehicles vs. claustrophobic indoor environments) but also in the way Carmack has designed the code-base. id has already announced that Doom 4 is in development (no publisher has yet been annonced), and Carmack confirmed that it'll run at 30Hz and run with several times the graphics power as Rage, a 60Hz game.
Click through to read our extensive interview and find out what John Carmack thinks about DirectX 10!