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OpenGL 3.1 adds texture buffer objects, more samplers

updated 07:40 pm EDT, Tue March 24, 2009

OpenGL update

The Khronos Group has released an update to its graphics acceleration specification, OpenGL 3.1, while announcing a new project aimed at bringing 3D graphics to the Internet. The latest version of OpenGL offers an improved shading language, GLSL 1.40, with enhanced programmability, more efficient vertex processing, additional texturing functionality and improved buffer management.

The updated API features new Texture Buffer Objects that can hold a one-dimensional array of texels, allowing much larger arrays to be used by a shader. Uniform Buffer Objects are designed for rapid swapping of uniform blocks and updating of uniform values across program objects. The company also doubled the amount of texture image units accessible to vertex shaders.

OpenGL 3.1 drivers are currently available for select NVIDIA components, while AMD expects to release drivers for the upcoming Radeon and FirePro products.

A fledgling collaborative effort aims to create an open, royalty-free standard for web-based accelerated 3D graphics. The 'Accelerated 3D on Web' working group initially will be chaired by Mozilla, although the project is open for other companies to contribute, influence or stand for chair.

Although the specification is still in its conceptual phase, the group is considering using OpenGL and OpenGL ES 2.0 capabilities within ECMAScript. The approach would allow developers to use familiar languages such as JavaScript.

"With more and more content moving to the web and JavaScript getting faster every day, the time is right to create an open, general purpose API for accelerated 3D graphics on the web," said Matt Papakipos, Google's engineering director. "Google looks forward to offering its expertise in graphics and web development to this discussion."

by MacNN Staff



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