The Khronos Group Unveils New OpenGL 4.2 Standard

Brad Chacos

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.

Want some hard details about the new features? The press release provides a quick bullet list:

  • enabling shaders with atomic counters and load/store/atomic read-modify-write operations to a single level of a texture.  These capabilities can be combined, for example, to maintain a counter at each pixel in a buffer object for single-rendering-pass order-independent transparency;
  • capturing GPU-tessellated geometry and drawing multiple instances of the result of a transform feedback to enable complex objects to be efficiently repositioned and replicated;
  • modifying an arbitrary subset of a compressed texture, without having to re-download the whole texture to the GPU for significant performance improvements;
  • packing multiple 8 and 16 bit values into a single 32-bit value for efficient shader processing with significantly reduced  memory storage and bandwidth, especially useful when transferring data between shader stages.

It only gets more technical from there, folks. If you're the kind of person who enjoys wading through a swamp of tech specs, you can check out the entire OpenGL 4.2 standard for yourself at the Khronos website . Nvidia's already rolled out OpenGL 4.2-compatible drivers to coincide with the announcement, and AMD plans on introducing 4.2 beta drivers of their own today.

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