Khronos Releases OpenGL 4.4 Specification for Enhanced 3D Functionality, Performance and Streamlined Porting of Console and PC

  Khronos Releases OpenGL 4.4 Specification for Enhanced 3D Functionality,
  Performance and Streamlined Porting of Console and PC Titles

    Conformance Tests created to accompany API specification and reference
     documentation available now; Full backwards compatibility maintained


Business Wire

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- July 22, 2013

SIGGRAPH - The Khronos™ Group today announced the immediate release of the
OpenGL^® 4.4 specification, bringing the very latest graphics functionality to
the most advanced and widely adopted cross-platform 2D and 3D graphics API
(application programming interface). OpenGL 4.4 unlocks capabilities of
today’s leading-edge graphics hardware while maintaining full backwards
compatibility, enabling applications to incrementally use new features while
portably accessing state-of-the-art graphics processing units (GPUs) across
diverse operating systems and platforms. Also, OpenGL 4.4 defines new
functionality to streamline the porting of applications and titles from other
platforms and APIs. The full specification and reference materials are
available for immediate download at

In addition to the OpenGL 4.4 specification, the OpenGL ARB (Architecture
Review Board) Working Group at Khronos has created the first set of formal
OpenGL conformance tests since OpenGL 2.0. Khronos will offer certification of
drivers from version 3.3, and full certification is mandatory for OpenGL 4.4
and onwards. This will help reduce differences between multiple vendors’
OpenGL drivers, resulting in enhanced portability for developers.

“The delivery of conformance tests for OpenGL 4.4 is a significant milestone –
as it is vital for developers to be able to rely on the API they are trusting
to accelerate their content across multiple platforms,” said Barthold
Lichtenbelt, OpenGL ARB working group chair. “The OpenGL ARB is committed to
continue to deepen communications with the developer community so we can
continue to build OpenGL functionality that creates real-world business
opportunities for the 3D industry.”

New functionality in the OpenGL 4.4 specification includes:

Buffer Placement Control (GL_ARB_buffer_storage)
Significantly enhances memory flexibility and efficiency through explicit
control over the position of buffers in the graphics and system memory,
together with cache behavior control - including the ability of the CPU to map
a buffer for direct use by a GPU.

Efficient Asynchronous Queries (GL_ARB_query_buffer_object)
Buffer objects can be the direct target of a query to avoid the CPU waiting
for the result and stalling the graphics pipeline. This provides significantly
boosted performance for applications that intend to subsequently use the
results of queries on the GPU, such as dynamic quality reduction strategies
based on performance metrics.

Shader Variable Layout (GL_ARB_enhanced_layouts)
Detailed control over placement of shader interface variables, including the
ability to pack vectors efficiently with scalar types. Includes full control
over variable layout inside uniform blocks and enables shaders to specify
transform feedback variables and buffer layout.

Efficient Multiple Object Binding (GL_ARB_multi_bind)
New commands which enable an application to bind or unbind sets of objects
with one API call instead of separate commands for each bind operation,
amortizing the function call, name space lookup, and potential locking
overhead. The core rendering loop of many graphics applications frequently
binds different sets of textures, samplers, images, vertex buffers, and
uniform buffers and so this can significantly reduce CPU overhead and improve

Streamlined Porting of Direct3D applications
A number of core functions contribute to easier porting of applications and
games written in Direct3D including GL_ARB_buffer_storage for buffer placement
control, GL_ARB_vertex_type_10f_11f_11f_rev which creates a vertex data type
that packs three components in a 32 bit value that provides a performance
improvement for lower precision vertices and is a format used by Direct3D, and
GL_ARB_texture_mirror_clamp_to_edge that provides a texture clamping mode also
used by Direct3D.

Extensions released alongside the OpenGL 4.4 specification include:

Bindless Texture Extension (GL_ARB_bindless_texture)
Shaders can now access an effectively unlimited number of texture and image
resources directly by virtual addresses. This bindless texture approach avoids
the application overhead due to explicitly binding a small window of
accessible textures. Ray tracing and global illumination algorithms are faster
and simpler with unfettered access to a virtual world's entire texture set.

Sparse Texture Extension (GL_ARB_sparse_texture)
Enables handling of huge textures that are much larger than the GPUs physical
memory by allowing an application to select which regions of the texture are
resident for ‘mega-texture’ algorithms and very large data-set visualizations.

Industry Support

“AMD has a long tradition of supporting open industry standards, and
congratulates the Khronos Group on the announcement of the OpenGL 4.4
specification for state-of-the-art graphics processing,” said Matt Skynner,
corporate vice president and general manager, Graphics Business Unit, AMD.
“Maintaining and enhancing OpenGL as a strong and viable graphics API is very
important to AMD in support of our APUs and GPUs. We’re proud to continue
support for the OpenGL development community.”

“We worked closely with Khronos on OpenGL 4.4, so we wanted to make sure the
day it was announced we had compliant drivers for our Fermi and Kepler GPUs,”
said Tony Tamasi, senior vice president, Content and Technology at NVIDIA.
“We’re also working to bring support to Tegra, so developers can create
amazing content that scales from high-end PCs down to mobile devices.” (These
products are based on the published OpenGL 4.4 Specification, and are
submitted to, and are expected to pass, the Khronos Conformance Testing
Process.Current conformance status can be found at

OpenGL BOF at SIGGRAPH, Anaheim, CA July 24^th 2013

There is an OpenGL BOF “Birds of a Feather” Meeting on Wednesday, July 24^th
at 7-8PM at the Hilton Anaheim, California Ballroom A & B, where attendees are
invited to meet OpenGL implementers and developers and learn more about the
new OpenGL 4.4 specification.

About The Khronos Group

The Khronos Group is an industry consortium creating open standards to enable
the authoring and acceleration of parallel computing, graphics, vision, sensor
processing and dynamic media on a wide variety of platforms and devices.
Khronos standards include OpenGL^®, OpenGL^® ES, WebGL™, OpenCL™, WebCL™,
OpenVX™, OpenMAX™, OpenVG™, OpenSL ES™, StreamInput™ and COLLADA™. All Khronos
members are able to contribute to the development of Khronos specifications,
are empowered to vote at various stages before public deployment, and are able
to accelerate the delivery of their cutting-edge media platforms and
applications through early access to specification drafts and conformance
tests. More information is available at

Khronos, DevU, StreamInput, WebGL, WebCL, COLLADA, OpenKODE, OpenVG, OpenVX,
OpenSL ES and OpenMAX are trademarks of the Khronos Group Inc. ASTC is a
trademark of ARM Holdings PLC, OpenCL is a trademark of Apple Inc. and OpenGL
is a registered trademark and the OpenGL ES and OpenGL SC logos are trademarks
of Silicon Graphics International used under license by Khronos. All other
product names, trademarks, and/or company names are used solely for
identification and belong to their respective owners.


Horizon PR
Jonathan Hirshon, Principal
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