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Khronos releases OpenGL ES 3.0 for mobile 3D graphics

August 07, 2012 // Nick Flaherty

Khronos releases OpenGL ES 3.0 for mobile 3D graphics

Graphics standards group Khronos has launched its OpenGL ES 3.0 specification, bringing significant functionality and portability enhancements to the industry-leading, royalty-free 3D graphics API that is used on the majority of the world’s smartphones and tablets.

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OpenGL ES 3.0 provides access to state-of-the-art graphics processing unit (GPU) functionality with portability across diverse mobile and embedded operating systems and platforms. It is backwards compatible with OpenGL ES 2.0, enabling applications to incrementally add new visual features to applications.
OpenGL ES 3.0 draws on proven functionality from OpenGL 3.3 and 4.2 and carefully balances the introduction of leading-edge technology with addressing the real-world needs of developers, said Tom Olson, chairman of the OpenGL ES Working Group and director of graphics research at ARM.
New functionality in the OpenGL ES 3.0 specification includes multiple enhancements to the rendering pipeline to enable acceleration of advanced visual effects including: occlusion queries, transform feedback, instanced rendering and support for four or more rendering targets as well as high quality ETC2 / EAC texture compression as a standard feature, eliminating the need for a different set of textures for each platform. There is alsoa new version of the GLSL ES shading language with full support for integer and 32-bit floating point operations and enhanced texturing functions including guaranteed support for floating point textures, 3D textures, depth textures, vertex textures, NPOT textures, R/RG textures, immutable textures, 2D array textures, swizzles, LOD and mip level clamps, seamless cube maps and sampler objects. Specifyiing a set of required, explicitly sized texture and render-buffer formats aims to reduce implementation variability and make it much easier to write portable applications.
The advanced features of Khronos OpenGL ES 3.0 constitute another significant step forward for mobile and embedded graphics, further blurring the boundaries between mobile and traditional high end graphics platforms and ushering in the next wave of feature-rich high performance GPUs for low power mobile and embedded markets, saidTony King-Smith, vice president marketing at Imagination Technologies. Thanks to our close involvement throughout the development of the standard, all our PowerVR Series6 Rogue GPU cores have been designed to support fully all features of OpenGL ES 3.0, and we look forward to playing a significant role in deployment of this exciting new level of mobile GPU capability through our many PowerVR Series6 licensees.
The OpenGL ES working group at Khronos expects to update the OpenGL ES Adopters Program to provide extensive conformance tests for OpenGL ES 3.0 within six 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. This ensures that conformant OpenGL ES implementations provide a reliable, cross-platform graphics programming platform.
OpenGL ES 3.0 enables more efficient solutions, utilizing the most advanced rendering techniques that will provide new levels of graphics excellence for mobile devices," said Kevin Smith, Vice President of Strategic Marketing, Media Processing Division at ARM. "ARM has committed to this standard with support that includes the availability, at launch, of the OpenGL ES 3.0 emulation texture compression tool and an SDK to enable developers to get started immediately.
As a founding member of Khronos and originator of the OpenGL ES initiative we are delighted to see the API evolve and remain at the forefront of today's embedded graphics industry, said Tim Lewis, director of marketing, ZiiLABS. From its inception OpenGL ES has offered developers a state-of-the-art API to harness the capabilities of next-generation embedded GPUs, and this latest release keeps the API as relevant now as it was back in 2003. We can now look forward to working through the conformance process with our latest StemCell media processors.
The full specification and reference materials are available for immediate download at


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