OpenGL 3.2 Released

The Khronos Group, the industry consortium responsible for the care and feeding of the OpenGL graphics standard, on Monday announced the release of OpenGL 3.2.

The new release adds features to improve performance, quality, accelerated geometry processing and easier portability of applications originally made using Direct3D, the opposing standard included in Windows as part of Microsoft's DirectX API suite.

OpenGL 3.2 is billed as the third major update to OpenGL in the the past year. In the past, the industry group has been criticized for being slow to react to changes within the graphics industry, particularly compared to Microsoft's rapid evolution of Direct3D.

The OpenGL Architecture Review Board (ARB) working group at Khronos has also defined an updated version of the OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL 1.5) and two profiles within OpenGL 3.2 for new application development -- a streamlined Core profile and a Compatibility profile that provides full backwards compatibility with previous OpenGL versions.

Currently, Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" uses the older, more limited OpenGL 2.1 standard, though it's expected that Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard," which comes out in September, will use OpenGL 3.x. OpenGL 3.x supports OpenCL, or Open Computing Language, a framework that lets applications leverage graphics processor technology for faster parallel computing capabilities.

With the new release of OpenGL emerging today, it'll be up to individual vendors to incorporate the changes and improvements into their own software drivers and hardware in the coming months. Nvidia has already produced beta Windows drivers based on the OpenGL 3.2 spec. Of course, it's up to Apple to incorporate OpenGL 3.2 changes in its operating system -- chances are that such a move is a way off, however.

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