OpenGL 4.6 Released with SPIR-V Support & Anisotropic Filtering

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Jul 31
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The Khronos Group announced in a press release that OpenGL 4.6 has been released. Piers Daniell, chair of the OpenGL Working Group at Khronos, said:

I’m proud to announce OpenGL 4.6 as the most feature-rich version of OpenGL yet. We’ve brought together the most popular, widely-supported extensions into a new core specification to give OpenGL developers and end users an improved baseline feature set. This includes resolving previous intellectual property roadblocks to bringing anisotropic texture filtering and polygon offset clamping into the core specification to enable widespread implementation and usage. The OpenGL working group will continue to respond to market needs and work with GPU vendors to ensure OpenGL remains a viable and evolving graphics API for all its customers and users across many vital industries.

Bob Pette, vice president, Professional Graphics at NVIDIA, added:

With OpenGL 4.6 our customers have an improved set of core features available on our full range of OpenGL 4.x capable GPUs. These features provide improved rendering quality, performance and functionality. As the graphics industry’s most popular API, we fully support OpenGL and will continue to work closely with the Khronos Group on the development of new OpenGL specifications and extensions for our customers. NVIDIA has released beta OpenGL 4.6 drivers today so developers can use these new features right away.

For a more detailed overview of the functionality introduced with OpenGL 4.6, check below.

OpenGL 4.6 integrates the functionality of numerous ARB and EXT extensions created by Khronos members AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA into core, including the capability to ingest SPIR-V shaders.

SPIR-V is a Khronos-defined standard intermediate language for parallel compute and graphics, which enables content creators to simplify their shader authoring and management pipelines while providing significant source shading language flexibility. OpenGL 4.6 adds support for ingesting SPIR-V shaders to the core specification, guaranteeing that SPIR-V shaders will be widely supported by OpenGL implementations.

OpenGL 4.6 adds the functionality of these ARB extensions to OpenGL’s core specification:

  • GL_ARB_gl_spirv and GL_ARB_spirv_extensions to standardize SPIR-V support for OpenGL
  • GL_ARB_indirect_parameters and GL_ARB_shader_draw_parameters for reducing the CPU overhead associated with rendering batches of geometry
  • GL_ARB_pipeline_statistics_query and GL_ARB_transform_feedback_overflow_query standardize OpenGL support for features available in Direct3D
  • GL_ARB_texture_filter_anisotropic (based on GL_EXT_texture_filter_anisotropic) brings previously IP encumbered functionality into OpenGL to improve the visual quality of textured scenes
  • GL_ARB_polygon_offset_clamp (based on GL_EXT_polygon_offset_clamp) suppresses a common visual artifact known as a “light leak” associated with rendering shadows
  • GL_ARB_shader_atomic_counter_ops and GL_ARB_shader_group_vote add shader intrinsics supported by all desktop vendors to improve functionality and performance
  • GL_KHR_no_error reduces driver overhead by allowing the application to indicate that it expects error-free operation so errors need not be generated

In addition to the above features being added to OpenGL 4.6, the following are being released as extensions:

  • GL_KHR_parallel_shader_compile allows applications to launch multiple shader compile threads to improve shader compile throughput
  • WGL_ARB_create_context_no_error and GXL_ARB_create_context_no_error allow no error contexts to be created with WGL or GLX that support the GL_KHR_no_error extension

Sophisticated graphics applications will also benefit from a set of newly released extensions for both OpenGL and OpenGL ES to enable interoperability with Vulkan and Direct3D. These extensions are named:

  • GL_EXT_memory_object
  • GL_EXT_memory_object_fd
  • GL_EXT_memory_object_win32
  • GL_EXT_semaphore
  • GL_EXT_semaphore_fd
  • GL_EXT_semaphore_win32
  • GL_EXT_win32_keyed_mutex
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