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Competition to DX 11 heats up

DirectX 11 has been gathering a lot of support, especially over the last six months as ATI has released an entire top-to-bottom lineup with support for the standard. Although DirectX is probably the best known collection of Application Programming Interfaces for games, OpenGL still remains relevant as a competitor in driving gaming technology forward.

OpenGL is managed by the Khronos Group, and it recently released the OpenGL 4.0 specification. The twelfth revision to the original spec adds many new features, some of which is also supported by current hardware through the new OpenGL 3.3 spec.

OpenGL 3.3 adds support for OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL) 3.3, which includes built-in functions for getting and setting the bit encoding for floating-point values. There are also new color blending functions and performance enhancements.

The real meat is in OpenGL 4.0, adding support for GLSL 4.0 and the fragment shader texture functions it allows. Per-sample fragment shaders and programmable fragment shader input positions will allow for increased rendering quality and anti-aliasing flexibility. The shader subroutines have been redesigned for significantly increased programming flexibility.

New tessellation stages and two new corresponding shader types are introduced. Tessellation control and tessellation evaluation shaders operate on "patches" (fixed-sized collections of vertices). Tessellation can increase visual quality significantly by taking a rough object and generating new vertices to smooth out the object and provide more detail without excessive performance penalties. These two new shader stages will enable the offloading of geometry tessellation from the CPU to the GPU.

A new object type called "sampler objects" will allow the separation of texture states and texture data. 64-bit double precision floating point shader operations and inputs/outputs will increase rendering accuracy and quality, while performance improvements will come from instanced geometry shaders, instanced arrays, and a new timer query. The drawing of data generated by OpenGL or external APIs such as OpenCL can be done without any CPU intervention.

The new spec is also supposed to improve interoperability with OpenCL for accelerating computationally intensive visual applications. OpenCL competes with DirectCompute, found in DirectX 10.1 and DX11.

Support for both the Core and Compatibility profiles first introduced with OpenGL 3.2 are continued, enabling developers to use a streamlined API or retain backwards compatibility for existing OpenGL code depending on their market needs.

ATI has been working extensively on OpenGL support and in shaping the standard. The functionality introduced in OpenGL 3.3 is supported by all ATI discrete graphics products released since the spring of 2007.  That includes the consumer Radeon lineup and the workstation FirePro and FireGL cards.

The ATI Radeon HD 5900 and 5800 series are also fully compatible with the OpenGL 4.0 standard, including tessellation and integration with the OpenCL API. This means that full OpenGL 4.0 GPU acceleration will be available when software that is coded for the standard hits the market.

Almost all of the OpenGL 4.0 functionality is also available on ATI Radeon HD 5400, 5500, 5600, and 5700 series graphics cards, with the exception of double precision support. ATI will enable this feature at a later date.

The features are enabled through the ATI Catalyst OpenGL 4.0 preview driver, which can be found here. Full support for OpenGL 4.0 will eventually be folded in the regular monthly Catalyst driver updates.

"The fact that we are able to announce our support for OpenGL 3.3 and OpenGL 4.0 at launch is an incredible feat on the part of our OpenGL software team, and speaks volumes to the commitment and continued support that the entire team brings to the many developers utilizing OpenGL.  In fact, with the launch of these updates, industry pundits have commented that OpenGL is in for a renaissance of sorts.  As a company that believes in and encourages open and industry standards, maintaining OpenGL as a strong and viable graphics API is important to AMD," stated Chris James, Social Media Strategist for the company's Global Communications team in a blog post.



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I don't miss the old days
By carniver on 3/26/2010 2:16:55 PM , Rating: 4
I can still remember how messy OpenGL was in terms of vendor extensions; NVIDIA would name their extensions NV_EXT_* to alienate ATI and S3 cards, so that if you want to play a certain game you HAVE to buy an NVIDIA card. In those days the slogan "The way it's meant to be played" had a lot of weight. Developers would either give little to no support for non-NVIDIA cards, or they'll have to work out separate rendering routines for different brands and even if they do so, it doesn't guarantee that one brand's performance/quality won't be superior to the other.

And then the culture changed. NVIDIA and ATI started following DirectX feature sets. If your game asks you for DX8 and your card supports it, you're pretty much guaranteed you can play the game just fine. Now as we're waiting for Fermi from NVIDIA everyone's comfortable that it'll be compatible with ATI's 5800 series.

We're now enjoying fair competition between GPU vendors, thanks for the standard MS has set in place. Of course, proprietary is BAD, but so is a lack of standard. If OpenGL is serious about being status-quo again, they better make sure nobody gets to make extensions to it but themselves.




RE: I don't miss the old days
By Zirconium on 3/26/2010 6:49:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If OpenGL is serious about being status-quo again, they better make sure nobody gets to make extensions to it but themselves.

<facepalm>
That's not the way the Khronos Group works, at least as far as OpenGL is concerned. Wikipedia gives a good summary of their methods (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opengl#Extensions).

Khronos doesn't "push" vendors in the same way Microsoft does. Microsoft may put in some feature in an upcoming version of D3D that is not supported by any current graphics card, which then prompts the vendors to want to support it because clearly, ATI's Radeon 5450 with which supports DirectX 11 is better than Nvidia's Geforce 295 because that only supports DirectX 10.1 - it's a whole DirectX 0.9 better! I would posit that the Khronos group never will either; it is not in ATI/Nvidia/Intel's interests to ratify a standard that neither of them support.

The way OpenGL advances is that the different vested companies create extensions, the then other companies adopt them. Eventually, the "Architecture Review Boards" and ratify and extension and in the next release of OpenGL, it becomes part of the standard spec.

quote:
can still remember how messy OpenGL was in terms of vendor extensions; NVIDIA would name their extensions NV_EXT_* to alienate ATI and S3 cards, so that if you want to play a certain game you HAVE to buy an NVIDIA card.

No, the didn't do it to "alienate ATI and S3." They did it because that's part of the spec in introducing new functions. It is a poor man's way of doing namespaces. Initially, it will be prefixed or suffixed with NV, then when other companies start adopting it, that suffix can be changed to EXT, when the Architecture Review Board gets to it, it will be changed to ARB, and when it is included into the GL core spec, that suffix will be dropped altogether.


RE: I don't miss the old days
By Scali on 3/29/2010 4:09:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If OpenGL is serious about being status-quo again, they better make sure nobody gets to make extensions to it but themselves.


Well, the existence of the extensions isn't the problem. It's developers relying on them.
Back in those days, developers had to rely on various extensions, because they enabled fundamental functionality for games, such as shaders, render-to-texture, vertex buffers.

These days there are standardized extensions for all this functionality, so you don't need to rely on vendor-specific extensions anymore.
OpenGL 4.0 will pull the OpenGL standard up to about DirectX 11-level... which means that OpenGL will support pretty much every hardware feature, and there's not a lot of room for custom extensions at this point anyway.
This is a result from that culture-change you described. nVidia and ATi mainly follow DirectX featuresets these days.

The main battleground for new functionality has shifted from graphics to GPGPU. But that's OpenCL's territory.


RE: I don't miss the old days
By gamerk2 on 3/29/2010 8:50:37 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If OpenGL is serious about being status-quo again, they better make sure nobody gets to make extensions to it but themselves.


Funny; especially when you consider that in the DX spec, Pixel Model 1.1 was basically developed by NVIDIA, then backported into the DX API. [PM 1.4 was ATI's implementation, then we got unified Shader Model 2.0, which took the best of both implementations].

I could also point out to ATI/NVIDIA's different implemntations of AA. Proprietary extensions are common, as its how you grow the API.


RE: I don't miss the old days
By Scali on 3/29/2010 9:41:36 AM , Rating: 2
That's not entirely true.
nVidia may have been the first with SM1.1, but it was a standard-feature of the DirectX API, and this API forces backwards compatibility.
This means that all hardware supporting anything above SM1.1 also need to be compatible with SM1.1.
The result is that when ATi came out with SM1.4 hardware, it ran all previous SM1.1 software without a problem.

This is a fundamental difference with vendor-specific extensions.
SM1.1 wasn't nVidia-specific. nVidia was just the first to have hardware on the market.
Likewise, SM1.4 wasn't ATi-specific, ATi was just the first.
All current hardware, including Intel and S3 aswell, are capable of running this SM1.x code.


Anti Virus shows...
By jjmcubed on 3/26/2010 6:41:47 PM , Rating: 2
When entered this article this was shown...

3/26/2010 3:39:49 PM Detected: Exploit.JS.Pdfka.bwz Firefox http://omingor.com/a/pdf/all.pdf//all//data0002





RE: Anti Virus shows...
By paleGreen1 on 3/27/2010 1:46:07 AM , Rating: 2
Chrome (v4.1) reported this when I tried to pull up this (and other) articles on the site:

==============
Warning: Visiting this site may harm your computer!

The website at www.dailytech.com contains elements from the site mjgjo.com, which appears to host malware...
==============

I clicked "Proceed anyway" and then Chrome reported that I was missing a plugin that was required by this page and then a PDF file opened automatically in Adobe Reader. I'm running version 9.3.1 (the latest I think) so I hope I didn't just get infected.

What the hell is going on???


RE: Anti Virus shows...
By karielash on 3/27/2010 12:13:17 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, the pdf you ended up with is malicious, it has multiple streams and multiple JavaScript objects.


RE: Anti Virus shows...
By jjmcubed on 3/28/2010 2:11:26 AM , Rating: 3
Might be time to turn on adblock again. Turned it off to support the site, but not going to let it affect my security.


Games?
By bbomb on 3/26/2010 11:11:01 PM , Rating: 2
Do any companies actually release OpenGL games? Aren't almost all of them DX9,10,11?




RE: Games?
By AlucardX on 3/27/2010 11:23:06 AM , Rating: 2
aside from iD, i can't think of any others. and obviously any company that uses an iD engine for their game is opengl (Quake Wars for instance). Once Rage get's released we'll probably see more games that use the new iD engine.


RE: Games?
By Penti on 3/27/2010 12:21:25 PM , Rating: 2
ID is the only big one. On Windows. However it's licensed to other developers.

Some the last few years are (Doom 3, Quake 4) Prey, ET:QW, Wolfenstein. Brink will be released later this year. Maybe not much, but plenty of engines are OGL on other platforms. So it's not like OGL are dead, it's moving to fast even, we've recently moved from 2.0 to 3.0, to 3.2 and now 4.0 might dwarfs all the development, the 3.0/3.2 implementations aren't even solid and widely used yet. And old 2.0 is perfectly DX 9.0c comparable. I've would have been happy if they finish transition to 3.2, 4.0 might make sense though, being completely DX11 class and competitive but just finish a good damn implementation so it can be used!


RE: Games?
By Penti on 3/27/2010 12:41:29 PM , Rating: 2
Might add that consoles (the important) platform is still DX 9.0c class (both hardware and software wise) and roughly equivalent to OGL 2.0. If shaders are in Cg they can be compiled to both PSGL (PS3), HLSL (DX) and GLSL (OGL). If they are in HLSL they can be converted (with software) to GLSL. Until next gen consoles OpenGL 2.0 won't get worse graphics/features then the consoles.


RE: Games?
By Pirks on 3/29/10, Rating: 0
Come on apple
By Breathless on 3/26/2010 12:20:15 PM , Rating: 3
If only apple would get off their duffs and support this. They are way behind on their opengl support. My hackintosh wants mo' opengl




RE: Come on apple
By Yaron on 3/26/2010 5:51:14 PM , Rating: 2
True.


DP Support
By Slaimus on 3/26/2010 1:59:26 PM , Rating: 2
I think the most interesting tidbit is that the lower end Radeon 5000 cards also support double precision. I wonder how that can be enabled through a driver update, as it needs dedicated hardware.




RE: DP Support
By adiposity on 3/26/2010 2:21:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I think the most interesting tidbit is that the lower end Radeon 5000 cards also support double precision. I wonder how that can be enabled through a driver update, as it needs dedicated hardware.


No, it doesn't. But without dedicated hardware, it is unlikely to be very fast...


Incorrect...
By Scali on 3/29/2010 3:54:06 AM , Rating: 2
"OpenCL competes with DirectCompute, found in DirectX 10.1 and DX11."

DirectCompute is only available in the DirectX 11 API.
DirectX 11 however can run on DirectX 9 SM3.0 class hardware and higher. nVidia DirectX 10 hardware supports DirectCompute with CS4.0. AMD DirectX 10.1 hardware supports DirectCompute with CS4.1.
Regular DirectX 11 hardware is CS5.0.




RE: Incorrect...
By Scali on 3/29/2010 1:43:59 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, typo.
DirectX 11 can run on DirectX SM2.0 class hardware and higher.


3DFX FTW
By Motoman on 3/27/2010 1:57:20 AM , Rating: 2
...<fond memories of the 5500>

^ that's what I intended to post, and when I tried I got:

quote:
This comment is apparently spam and we do not allow spam comments.


...hmmm...?




Watch OpenGL being reborn
By Pirks on 3/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By ClownPuncher on 3/26/2010 12:35:59 PM , Rating: 3
You silly, I thought you supported closed systems and proprietary API's?

Even so, pushing more open standards like this is nothing but good.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By Pirks on 3/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By StevoLincolnite on 3/26/2010 3:23:24 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
OpenGL games can be much more easily ported to non-Windows platforms


Its actually not that hard to make an Open GL wrapper to make a Direct 3D game run on OpenGL, game developers had been doing it for years. (Most notable when there were 3 primary API's like Glide, Direct 3D and OpenGL).

Also Direct 3D, and thus Direct X isn't as "Closed" as you think is, hardware developers (nVidia, ATI, Intel etc') as well as software developers actually have allot of input into changes and updates that go into it. (Like ATI's 3dc compression, S3 texture compression, Tessellation etc').

Also, there is a simple reason why Direct 3D is the API of choice, it's easy to program for, faster and more feature rich, hence why it beat Open GL and Glide in the first place. (Glide only functioned on 3dfx's hardware, so when nVidia swallowed that company, the API went with it).

And for the record, not *All* consoles use OpenGL, some use there own propriety API and some use a variation of Direct X.

And lastly, because the Mac now has the Steam service, it does not make the Mac any more of a viable gaming platform, it's hardware (Specifically the graphics) is a generation behind, the drivers suck, and you are also missing out on THOUSANDS of extra games (Think of the last few decades of games? That's a massive library of software!) by not running Windows.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By omnicronx on 3/26/2010 4:32:28 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
And for the record, not *All* consoles use OpenGL, some use there own propriety API and some use a variation of Direct X.
I'm not aware of a single console that is pure OpenGL ;)

360.. DX based..

Wii: uses GX API, which is resemblant to OpenGL, but is different enough that you can't even call it an OpenGL variant.

PS3: Variant of OpenGL ES, but still partly proprietary.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By Samus on 3/26/2010 8:27:23 PM , Rating: 2
Right on. Most any 360 game that has a PS3 variant is wrapped, which explains the minor graphical deviations between the versions. Sometimes it backfires a little the the quality is severely impacted, but those applied to more early PS3/360 ports. These days coding is performed with wrapping in mind, so textures and features are developed wrapper-friendly.

Not everybody has the resources to natively port an entire DX-engine to openGL like Valve does...any only time will tell if that actually pays off...because if you ask me, the Source engine is nearing extinction. I wouldn't be surprised if Episode 3 & Portal 2 are the last Valve release under the current engine. It could be overhauled, but most of the technology in Source dates back to 2000-2001 when initial developement began, and even the current engine isn't multithreaded.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By Penti on 3/27/2010 11:43:59 AM , Rating: 2
How about Postal III? None Valve but should at least come after Portal 2. It's the latest engine that will be ported any how. Plenty of people (companies) want an engine that can easily port their apps to multiple platforms. I'm pretty sure it will continue to live. D3D is wrapped in a game engine too. It's nothing that new which you try to give an appearance of, however the engines (at least for those platforms) where new when the consoles first came out. The quality will of course be better over time and the lack of quality and finish applied to both. Ports are ports, ports to new platforms will have flaws.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By Penti on 3/27/2010 11:31:16 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed that Pirks is a retard but OGL is pretty good in that regard too, vendors can add there own extensions which will become a de facto standard if they are popular even if they don't update the spec.

It's however easy to port, and not just wrapper DX code too, you can translate your HSSL to GLSL. You can compile your Cg code (the same you will use for PS3 pretty much) for both DX and regular OGL. It's not the API's that are the problem it's the Game engines that are, and Steam will fix that for their games now at least. That's good and that's nothing to be retarded about.

Games are written for game engines nothing else. A good engine will not have any major problems with easily porting the game.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By themaster08 on 3/29/2010 5:43:41 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's just that OpenGL console gaming is better than DX since OpenGL games can be much more easily ported to non-Windows platforms, and hence this is GOOD. Open non-MS standards FTW.

As we know, the Xbox 360 is the programming bed for most multi-platform titles due to being the "lowest common denominator".

So by your logic, it would be easier to port a game to PC as the Xbox 360 uses a varant of DX. Devs also find programming games for the Xbox 360 a much easier task than with the PS3, which uses a proprietary variant of OpenGL.

Thanks for clearing that up.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By InternetGeek on 3/26/2010 3:28:21 PM , Rating: 2
It seems he favors closed platforms based on open standards. In other words, he would let vendors let others drive innovation while they limit the platforms to whatever makes them money.

A very laid back position if you ask me. Sounds familiar doesn't it? Take what others do, mash it together, throw nice make up in, sell it for a lot of money.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By B3an on 3/27/2010 12:04:44 AM , Rating: 3
Not totally true, this is pirks after all. He simply favours anything that will or could benefit apple in any way.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By Alexvrb on 3/28/2010 12:58:44 AM , Rating: 2
Bingo. At first glance (at least for those who are new to Pirks) it appears he supports OpenGL because its an open standard. But he really only supports it because it runs on Apple platforms and DirectX does not.

If Apple had instead rejected OpenGL (in favor of AppleGL) and treated it the way they treat Flash, Pirks would be urinating on Khronos' front door right now.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By Pirks on 3/29/10, Rating: 0
RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By gescom on 3/30/2010 12:47:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Ya OGL runs everywhere unlike proprietary MS-only DX.


Most PC windows games & xbox. That's it.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By themaster08 on 3/29/2010 5:49:04 AM , Rating: 2
From where I'm standing, it seems he only favours open standards when it's opposing Microsoft. Y'know, just to be awkward.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By Reclaimer77 on 3/27/2010 12:48:01 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Even so, pushing more open standards like this is nothing but good.


How is DX not an open standard ? Everyone in the world, that matters, uses it.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By ClownPuncher on 3/27/2010 12:03:01 PM , Rating: 3
Proprietary runtimes, closed source, tagged to only Vista and Win7 (dx10-11).

That pretty much sums up why DX is not an open standard.

I have nothing against Direct X, but OpenGL 4 is more flexible and completely open.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By Alexvrb on 3/28/2010 12:45:08 AM , Rating: 2
The source is closed, but the development of DX is very open. But I like OpenGL too, at least when Khronos has their stuff together.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By Scali on 3/29/2010 3:59:29 AM , Rating: 2
The source of many OpenGL implementations is closed aswell.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By sxr7171 on 3/28/2010 7:30:12 PM , Rating: 2
Reading comprehension. It's important.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By descendency on 3/28/2010 9:43:53 PM , Rating: 2
Pushing is a great word for it because market adoption is heavily in favor of proprietary and closed APIs and programs (their source is closed).

I think you meant promoting, though.


RE: Watch OpenGL being reborn
By Jovec on 3/27/2010 1:57:05 PM , Rating: 2
Don't confuse Direct3D and DirectX. The porting issue (as in, lack of ports to other OSes) has to do with all the other functions DX provides, not D3D vs OpenGL.


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