End users may not have been hearing much about OpenGL in recent months, but the Khronos Group, the body that maintains the standard, has been rather busy. Earlier today, Khronos announced the third major revision of the OpenGL spec in 12 months: OpenGL 3.2.
According to the official press release, OpenGL 3.2 brings new functionality for "enhanced performance, increased visual quality, [and] accelerated geometry processing." For developers in particular, new goodies include:
Increased performance for vertex arrays and fence sync objects to avoid idling while waiting for resources shared between the CPU and GPU, or multiple CPU threads; Improved pipeline programmability, including geometry shaders in the OpenGL core; Boosted cube map visual quality and multisampling rendering flexibility by enabling shaders to directly process texture samples.
Khronos says the new spec should also help developers port Direct3D applications to OpenGL more easily. That might please Mac OS X and Linux users, since those operating systems lack native DirectX support, and few game studios bother to port their games—either in a timely manner or at all.
The rapid pace of OpenGL evolution may also be encouraging more developers to switch over on the Windows side. Here's what Barthold Lichtenbelt, Chair of the OpenGL Architecture Review Board, told us during an interview last week:
It's changing a little bit. Last year there was maybe one OpenGL title out, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. id Software is continuing to develop OpenGL games on the PC. Not D3D but OpenGL games. They have some upcoming titles which you've probably aware of that are OpenGL. The recently released Chronicles of Riddick: [Assault on] Dark Athena is OpenGL-based. And there's at least one of two titles that I'm aware of coming out this year that are OpenGL, which I'm not sure I can name, actually.
For now, developers can jump in and grab the full OpenGL 3.2 specification at opengl.org/registry.