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Khronos Releases OpenGL ES 3.1 Specification

The Khronos Group announced the immediate release of the OpenGL ES 3.1 specification, providing enhancements to its royalty-free 3D graphics API. OpenGL ES 3.1 provides access to state-of-the-art graphics processing unit (GPU) functionality with portability across mobile and embedded operating systems and platforms, the company says. The full specification and reference materials are available for immediate download at the group’s website.

“OpenGL ES 3.1 provides the most desired features of desktop OpenGL 4.4 in a form suitable for mobile devices,” said Tom Olson, chair of the OpenGL ES working group and director of graphics research at ARM. “It provides developers with the ability to use cutting-edge graphics techniques on devices that are shipping today.”

Applications can use the GPU to perform general computing tasks, tightly coupled with graphics rendering. Compute shaders are written in the GLSL ES shading language, and can share data with the graphics pipeline;

The new release also features separate shader objects, so applications can program the vertex and fragment shader stages of the GPU independently, and can mix and match vertex and fragment programs without an explicit linking step.

Indirect draw commands allow the GPU to take draw commands from its memory rather than waiting for commands from the CPU. For example, this allows a compute shader running on the GPU to perform a physics simulation and then generate the draw commands needed to display the results without CPU intervention.

The new release provides backward compatibility with OpenGL ES 2.0 and 3.0, so programmers can add ES 3.1 functionality incrementally to working ES 2.0 and 3.0 applications.

“The OpenGL family of APIs including OpenGL ES, OpenGL and WebGL have proven themselves as the foundation for 3D graphics on mobile devices, PCs and the Web. This OpenGL ES release is yet another graphical milestone that will enable billions of users to experience new levels of realism and interactivity on pervasive, mainstream devices,” said Neil Trevett, president of the Khronos Group and vice president of mobile ecosystem at NVIDIA.

The OpenGL ES working group at Khronos expects to update the OpenGL ES Adopter’s Program to provide extensive conformance tests for OpenGL ES 3.1 within three months, enabling implementers of the specification to gain access to source code for Conformance Tests and to use the OpenGL ES trademark on products that pass the defined testing procedure.

For more information, visit Khronos Group.

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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