I’ve chosen the title based on the popular article that tries to prove that OpenGL lost the war against Direct3D. To be honest, I didn’t really like the article at all. First, because it compared OpenGL 3 which targeted Shader Model 4.0 hardware and DirectX 11 which targeted Shader Model 5.0 hardware. Besides that, as we will see, the war is really far from over… This article aims to list the most important features introduced by OpenGL 3.x, OpenGL 4.x, Direct3D 10, Direct3D 11 and we will also talk about the promised features of the upcoming Direct3D 11.1 to be fair with DirectX
After the release of the OpenGL 4.1 specification the Khronos Group slowed down the pace a little bit but they didn’t left OpenGL developers without a new specification version for too long as a few weeks ago they’ve released OpenGL 4.2. The new version of the specification brings several API improvements as well as exposes some important pieces of hardware functionality that makes OpenGL 4.x class hardware a great step forward in GPU history. This article aims to present the newly introduced features in the latest version of the OpenGL specification and, as a few months ago I wrote an article about Suggestions for OpenGL 4.2 and beyond, I will write a few words about how does the new specification reflect my forecast.
You might remember that I wrote an article about my suggestions for OpenGL 4.2 and beyond. One of the features that I recommended to be added to OpenGL was a yet non-existent extension called GL_ARB_draw_indirect2 which suggested the addition of new draw commands that are similar in fashion to the ancient MultiDraw* commands but they are meant to build on top of the indirect drawing mechanism introduced by the GL_ARB_draw_indirect extension and OpenGL 4.0. I contacted both AMD and NVIDIA with my idea with different levels of success, but AMD saw the potential in the functionality and they actually implemented it in the form of GL_AMD_multi_draw_indirect, well at least partially…
In this article, I would like to present you an edge detection algorithm that shares similar performance characteristics like the well-known Sobel operator but provides slightly better edge detection and can be seamlessly extended with little to no performance overhead to also detect corners alongside with edges. The algorithm works on a 3×3 texel footprint similarly like the Sobel filter but applies a total of nine convolution masks over the image that can be used for either edge or corner detection. The article presents the mathematical background that is needed to implement the edge detector and provides a reference implementation written in C/C++ using OpenGL that showcases both the Frei-Chen and the Sobel edge detection filter applied to the same image.
The Khronos Group did a great job in the last few years to once again prove that OpenGL is still in game and that it can become the ultimate graphics API of choice, if it is not that already. However, we must note that it is not quite yet true that OpenGL 4.1 is a superset of its competitor, DirectX 11. We still have some holes that still have to be filled and I think the ARB should not stop just there as there is much more potential in the current hardware architectures than that is currently exposed by any graphics API so establishing the future of OpenGL should start by going one step further than DX11. In this article I would like to present my vision of items of importance that should be included in the next revision of the specification and how I see the future of OpenGL.
Currently there are several ways to feed data to the GPU no matter of what API we use and what type of application we develop. In case of OpenGL we have uniform buffers, texture buffers, texture images, etc. The same is true for OpenCL and other compute APIs that even provide more fine-grained memory management taking advantage of the local data store (LDS) available on today’s hardware. In this article I’ll present the memory access performance characteristics of AMD’s Evergreen-class GPUs focusing on what this all means from OpenGL point of view. While most of the data is about the HD5870, the general principles and relative performance characteristics are valid for other GPUs, including ones from other vendors.
Dynamic geometry level-of-detail (LOD) algorithms are very popular and powerful algorithms that provide a great level of rendering performance optimization while preserving detail by using less detailed geometry for objects that are far away, too small or otherwise less significant in the quality of the final rendering. Many of these are used since the very beginning of computer graphics technologies and are present in some form in current CAD softwares, video games and other graphics applications. While determining the appropriate geometry LOD was previously the task of the CPU, with todays hardware it is possible to also offload this to the GPU which excels at handling large amount of objects in parallel.
Hierarchical-Z is a well known and standard feature of modern GPUs that allows them to speed up depth testing by rejecting large group of incoming fragments using a reduced and compressed version of the depth buffer that resides in on-chip memory. The technique presented in this article uses the same basic idea to allow batched occlusion culling for large amount of individual objects using a geometry shader without the need of any CPU intervention that is unavoidable using traditional occlusion queries. The article also provides a reference implementation in the form of the OpenGL 4.0 Mountains demo that uses the technique for culling thousands of object instances.
OpenGL 3.0 capable GPUs introduced a level of processing power and programming flexibility that isn’t comparable with any earlier generations. After that, OpenGL 4.0 and the hardware supporting it even further pushed the limits of what previously seemed to be impossible. Thanks to these features nowadays more and more possibilities are available for the graphics developers to implement GPU based scene management and culling algorithms. The Mountains demo showcases some of these rendering techniques that, as far as I know, were never implemented so far using OpenGL. In this article I will present the key features of the demo that will be discussed in more detail in subsequent articles. Demo binaries with full source code are also published.
With the introduction of Shader Model 5.0 hardware and the API support provided by OpenGL 4.0 made GPU based geometry tessellation a first class citizen in the latest graphics applications. While the official support from all the commodity graphics card vendors and the relevant APIs are quite recent news, little to no people know that hardware tessellation has a long history in the world of consumer graphics cards. In this article I would like to present a brief introduction to tessellation and discuss about its evolution that resulted in what we can see in the latest technology demos and game titles.