The royalty-free, open standards consortium known as the Khronos Group have just publicly released the official specifications of OpenGL 3.1 graphics system, which includes an updated shading language called GLSL 1.40 as well as several functionality and flexibility improvements.
To start, the new specification update introduces a new texture type known as Texture Buffer Objects which hold a one-dimensional array of texels of a specified format. This enables massive arrays to be accessed by a shader, which is important for a broad range of GPU compute applications. Another significant new feature, known as Instancing, is the ability to draw objects multiple times by re-using vertex data to reduce duplicated data and number of API calls.
According to Dr. Jon Peddie of Jon Peddie Research, a leading graphics market analyst in California, the installed base of graphics hardware that will support OpenGL 3.1 exceeds 100 million units. OpenGL 3.0 drivers are already shipping on AMD, NVIDIA and S3 GPUs. Specifically, AMD claims that Radeon and FirePro products will soon be able to support 3.1 with an upcoming driver release, while Nvidia is proudly announcing that it has already released beta drivers on the same day as the specification itself.
“The rapid nine month development of OpenGL 3.1 demonstrates the schedule-driven approach to the standard that is enabling and inspiring cutting edge, cross-platform GPU functionality,” said Barthold Lichtenbelt, chair of the OpenGL ARB working group at Khronos. “OpenGL 3.1 answers the requests from the developer community to streamline and modernize the OpenGL API. The OpenGL ARB will continue to leverage the unique evolutionary model introduced in OpenGL 3.0 to drive the ongoing revolution in OpenGL while ensuring backwards compatibility where it is needed.”
The OpenGL 3.1 standard was released on March 24th, and the PDF documentation can be found here.