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GDC 09: Kronos Group Release an Initiative, and Two Specifications
Posted by Wade,

324 days ago Mar 25, 2009 07:23

The Khronos Group has announced an initiative and two specifications early last night. OpenGL 3.1 Open SL 3.0 and and an intiative to Create Open Royalty Free Standard for Accelerated 3D on the Web.

Open SL ES 1.0

OpenSL ES is a fully-featured audio API that enables application developers take full control of advanced audio functionality in a device while being isolated from platform specifics, enabling applications to run on a multitude of hardware accelerated and software-based audio solutions. OpenSL ES has been designed by many of the leading industry audio experts to provide access to a broad range of audio functionality:

  • Playback of PCM and encoded content, MIDI ringtones and UI sounds, as well as extraction of content metadata;
  • General audio controls such as volume, rate, and pitch; music player effects such as equalizer, bass boost, preset reverberation and stereo widening; as well as advanced 3D effects such as Doppler, environmental reverberation, and virtualization;
  • Advanced MIDI including SP-MIDI, mobile DLS, mobile XMF, MIDI messages, and the ability to use the output of the MIDI engine as a 3D sound source;
  • Full 3D positional audio including grouping of 3D sound sources;
  • Audio recording in PCM as well as non-PCM formats from a microphone, line-in jack;
  • Optional support for LED and vibrator control, 3D macroscopic control, and audio recording.

Due to the broad range of audio functionality, OpenSL ES defines three overlapping profiles allowing implementers to select the features required by a particular device while preserving application portability by implementing one or more profiles on a device:

  • The Phone profile provides playback controls and volume controls, sound prioritization and MIDI as well as the ability to direct sound to multiple simultaneous outputs;
  • The Music profile provides balance and pan controls, sound prioritization and audio effects such as virtualization, preset reverberation and equalizer controls;
  • The Game profile provides buffer queues, pitch and playback rate control, environmental reverberation and extensive positional 3D audio controls that complements the use of OpenGL ES for 3D graphics in sophisticated mobile applications

The Open ES 1.0 specification can currently be downloaded at http://www.khronos.org/opensles/ and may be used royalty-free by implementers and developers.

OpenGL 3.1

OpenGL 3.1 leverages the evolutionary model introduced in OpenGL 3.0 to dramatically streamline the API for simpler and more efficient software development, and accelerates the ongoing convergence with the widely available OpenGL ES mobile and embedded 3D API to unify application development. The OpenGL 3.1 specification enables developers to leverage state-of-the-art graphics hardware available on a significant number of installed GPUs across all desktop operating systems. According to Dr. Jon Peddie of Jon Peddie Research, a leading graphics market analyst in California, the installed base of graphics hardware that will support OpenGL 3.1 exceeds 100 million units. OpenGL 3.0 drivers are already shipping on AMD, NVIDIA and S3 GPUs.

Concurrently with the release of the OpenGL 3.1 specification, the OpenGL ARB has released an optional compatibility extension that enables application developers to access the OpenGL 1.X/2.X functionality removed in OpenGL 3.1, ensuring full backwards compatibility for applications that require it.


  • Texture Buffer Objects - a new texture type that holds a one-dimensional array of texels of a specified format, enabling extremely large arrays to be accessed by a shader, vital for a wide variety of GPU compute applications;
  • Signed Normalized Textures – new integer texture formats that represent a value in the range [-1.0,1.0];
  • Uniform Buffer Objects - enables rapid swapping of blocks of uniforms for flexible pipeline control, rapid updating of uniform values and sharing of uniform values across program objects;
  • More samplers – now at least 16 texture image units must be accessible to vertex shaders in addition to the 16 already guaranteed to be accessible to fragment shaders;
  • Primitive Restart – to easily restart an executing primitive, useful for efficiently drawing a mesh with many triangle strips, for example;
  • Instancing - the ability to draw objects multiple times by re-using vertex data to reduce duplicated data and number of API calls;
  • CopyBuffer API – accelerated copies from one buffer object to another, useful for many applications including those that share buffers with OpenCL™ 1.0 for advanced visual computing applications.

Initiative to Create Open Royalty Free Standard for Accelerated 3D on the Web

In response to a proposal from Mozilla, Khronos has created an ‘Accelerated 3D on Web’ working group that Mozilla has offered to chair.  This royalty-free standard will be developed under the proven Khronos development process with a target of a first public release within 12 months.  Any interested company is welcome to join Khronos to make contributions, stand for chair, influence the direction of the specification and gain early access to draft specifications before public release.  The working group will consider various approaches including exposing OpenGL and OpenGL ES 2.0 capabilities within ECMAScript.  The Khronos Accelerated 3D on Web working group will commence work during April 2009.  More details on joining Khronos can be found at http://www.khronos.org/members/ or emailing info@khronos.org.

With increasing performance, JavaScript is positioned to be a viable programming language for classes of applications currently written in C and C++.  Graphics developers targeting large audiences through web applications would be well-served by bringing additional graphics capabilities the web platform, particularly the ability to work with 3D.  OpenGL is available on every desktop operating system and a significant and growing percentage of embedded platforms have adopted OpenGL ES as their native graphics API.  As OpenGL is familiar to application developers, the fusion of OpenGL and OpenGL ES capabilities with the web platform holds great promise.  Mozilla has proposed exposing the OpenGL ES 2.0 API and capabilities to an ECMAScript container such as a web browser to enable the development of cross-platform 3D-capable web applications.  The working group will consider this and other proposals and any contributions from other working group members.

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