updated 11:20 am EST, Thu March 11, 2010
Khronos says OpenGL deteails set
The Khronos Group today outlined the official feature set for OpenGL 4.0. The new graphics standard is the first major update since the launch of OpenCL and better exploits general computing features. It can draw the output of an OpenCL calculation without having to invoke the main processor and potentially frees up the processor even more when video or a similar task is already being offloaded to the graphics core.
Many of 4.0's features are visual and bring it more up to par with Microsoft's DirectX 11. Tesselation, or the automatic simplification of geometry, can now be hardware-accelerated. OpenGL can now additionally handle per-sample effects by the pixel, process shader subroutines and render content with 64-bit double-precision for better accuracy.
Speed has also been ramped up, as the standard can now handle single-instance arrays and geometry effects in addition to other improvements in the background.
Actual use of OpenGL 4.0 doesn't have a set date as it will depend both on video chipset makers adding support to their drivers in addition to games and other software being updated or written to use the new range of technology. OpenGL ES is also expected to get at least some of the new capabilities in the future and could result in smartphones with similar effects once hardware catches up.
In the meantime, the company has launched OpenGL 3.3, a stopgap release that gives as many 4.0 features as possible to devices whose hardware can't render the full 4.0 feature set.