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OpenGL 3.0

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From SIGGRAPH 2008, one of the premiere computers graphics conferences, the Khronos Group has announced the release of the OpenGL 3.0 API specification and the GLSL 1.30 shading language specification. This is the first major update to this cross-platform 3D programming API since the OpenGL 2.1 release two years ago. In this article we have a bit of information on these OpenGL and GLSL updates and when we can expect to see the Linux graphics scene moving to this new standard.

The OpenGL 3.0 API was codenamed "Longs Peak" and was originally scheduled for release this past September, but was delayed by the Khronos Group, which is the consortium that now leads the development of this open standard, due to technical reasons. Longs Peak comes some simplifications to its programming API (Application Programming Interface) both from the development and implementation perspectives, but this isn't a quick and easy upgrade path to OpenGL 3.0 as a result with OpenGL migrating towards an object-based system.

Some of the OpenGL 3.0 features include Vertex Array Objects, full frame-buffer object functionality, 32-bit floating-point textures and render buffers, conditional rendering based on occlusion queries, compact half-float vertex and pixel data, four new compression schemes, and 32-bit floating-point depth buffer support are among the many new features. The OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL) with its 1.30 revision has a number of improvements as well. Among these GLSL improvements are improved compatibility with OpenGL ES, new interpolation modes, additional functionality for manipulating floating-point numbers, and introducing switch statements.

In the OpenGL 3.0 Press Release, the Khronos Group has also announced they have started working with the OpenCL standard to "create a revolutionary pairing of compute and graphics programming capabilities." OpenCL (the Open Computing Language) was created by Apple as a C-based language for parallel computing across CPUs and GPUs (GPGPU computing).

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