The Khronos group unveiled on Monday the OpenGL 4.2 specification, the newest update to the cross-platform 3D graphics API.
The new spec includes a handful of new features designed to improve the performance of common operations in order to allow developers to more easily create high-performance 3D software. These features include fine-grained modification of textures, more efficient data sharing between shader programs, and the ability to re-use shapes that the GPU has already tessellated without having to tessellate them again.
In common with other OpenGL 4.x point releases, the new features should be supported by existing OpenGL 4/Direct3D 11-class hardware, requiring only driver updates to provide the new functionality. NVIDIA released OpenGL 4.2 drivers today, while AMD intends to release a driver with beta support shortly.
OpenGL is Khronos' best-known specification, but the group has broader goals. It has already released the WebGL specification, a 3D API for HTML5; to that the group announced plans to add a new WebCL specification. Just as WebGL provides OpenGL-like graphics to Web developers, WebCL will provide heterogeneous OpenCL-like computation to Web developers, giving them access to GPU-accelerated computation where available, with the ability to fall back to the CPU where necessary. This will allow, for example, HTML5 games to include physics engines, and for complex image and video processing.
WebCL will be developed by the WebGL working group, and prototype implementations from Nokia, which spearheaded the work, and Samsung are already available.
WebGL came under criticism from Microsoft in June, with the company claiming that the technology couldn't be implemented in a secure way. Khronos representatives dispute this claim, pointing to security features that OpenGL has added to prevent WebGL denial-of-service attacks and the adoption of the cross-origin resource sharing (CORS) specification to prevent information leakage between domains. The group acknowledges that driver bugs can still be an issue, but argues that browser whitelists and blacklists can safeguard users. Khronos says adoption of the technology will spur driver developers to fix their software.
Khronos also announced plans to create a general sensor API. This is in order to provide consistent high-level access to a wealth of sensors that computers and smartphones are increasingly being equipped with—accelerometers, gyroscopes,...