Published in Graphics

Khronos releases Open GL 3.1 ES

In time for GDC 14

The new version of the biggest royalty free API has just been announced. OpenGL, once a huge competitor to DirectX in been bumped to version 3.1 in its mobile edition. Here is a list of tweaks and changes.

Key features of the OpenGL ES 3.1 specification include:

• Compute shaders – applications can use the GPU to perform general computing tasks, tightly coupled with graphics rendering. Compute shaders are written in the GLSL ES shading language, and can share data with the graphics pipeline;
• Separate shader objects – applications can program the vertex and fragment shader stages of the GPU independently, and can mix and match vertex and fragment programs without an explicit linking step;
• Indirect draw commands – the GPU can be instructed to take draw commands from its memory rather than waiting for commands from the CPU. For example, this allows a compute shader running on the GPU to perform a physics simulation and then generate the draw commands needed to display the results, without CPU intervention;
• Enhanced texturing functionality – including multisample textures, stencil textures, and texture gather;
• Shading language improvements – new arithmetic and bitfield operations, and features to enable modern styles of shader programming;
• Optional extensions – per-sample shading, advanced blending modes, and more;
• Backward compatibility with OpenGL ES 2.0 and 3.0 – programmers can add ES 3.1 functionality incrementally to working ES 2.0 and 3.0 applications.

The update is rather evolutionary and we will have to wait for Google to release Android support for this feature, and of course we will need some Open GL 3.1 ES hardware in order to be able to use it in games.

The main thing is that the specification has been locked down and now Khronos can work on the new iteration with goal of making the graphics more realistic, faster and less power hungry then today, at least in ES mobile version.

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