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     OpenGL 3.3 and 4.0 on the way
      Posted on 12/03/2010 at 20:40 by Damien
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    Open GLThe Khronos Group used the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco to launch two new versions of OpenGL. The first, version 3.3 is a minor update of 3.2, which dates from last summer. Among the innovations are support for FP10 surfaces and decoupling of textures from texturing parameters (type of filtering etc.) whose number is limited. This means you can now use each set of parameters to access numerous different textures and remove a limitation at this level, just as DirectX 10.0 did 3 years ago. OpenGL 3.3 therefore allows a sort of refining of equivalence to DirectX 10 in terms of the features supported.

    OpenGL 4.0 is a more significant development aimed at the DirectX 11 generation of GPU. It introduces tessellation support with two new types of shaders, the tessellation control shader (equivalent to the hull shader in DirectX) and the tessellation evaluation shader (equivalent to the domain shader in DirectX). Numerous little improvements have been introduced: blending, antialiasing and transform feedback (equivalent to stream output) gain in flexibility, new texture formats come online… Overall the idea is to mirror DirectX 11. With one difference: in contrast to the last version of DirectX, OpenGL 4.0 supports double precision (FP64) shaders.

    If the GeForce GTX 400s and the Radeon HD 5800s and 5900s can support OpenGL 4.0 no problem, this puts a question mark over the Radeon HD 5700s and down, which don’t support double precision, as well as for derivatives of the GF100, for which double precsion support is in the balance. Will these cards offer OpenGL 4.0 support? If they do, it means that double precision support is optional in OpenGL 4.0 or that it can be emulated where there’s no native support.

    Note also that the Khronos Group has happily reviewed its numbering of versions of GLSL, the OpenGL shading language. For more clarity the version for OpenGL 3.3 is 3.30.6 and the version for OpenGL 4.0, 4.00.8. Previously version 1.50.11 of GLSL was used with OpenGL 3.2. Given that the version for OpenGL 3.3 is continuing to evolve alongside the version for OpenGL 4.0, this clarification should avoid confusion between the different branches.

    For more details, full documentation is available here.

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