The Khronos Group annouced in a press release that the OpenGL graphics API has reached specification version 4.1. OpenGL is one of two major graphics APIs--the toolsets programmers use to build games and other apps that use 3D graphics--supported by hardware the hardware manufacturers that produce the graphic chipsets for everything from desktop computer to smartphones (the other is Microsoft's proprietary DirectX technology).
Previous versions of OpenGL have been significantly different between platforms (for example, a desktop PC versus a smartphone), and subsequently more difficult to support for software developers interested in releasing their work across multiple platforms.
The OpenGL 4.1 spec promises to unify these different implementations into one to allow the production of applications that may be deployed to multiple types of hardware and software configurations with minimal modification to the core software. In the near future we may see PC games released side-by-side with mobile versions that offer a similar experience to what’s available on the desktop, albeit at a lower resolution or graphical fidelity.
Additionally, this new OpenGL spec offers new features for bleeding-edge graphics effects that were previously only available to programmers using Microsoft’s DirectX API. While DirectX is primarily limited to Windows-based PCs and the Xbox video game consoles, OpenGL is an open standard available on many platforms including MacOS, Linux, iOS, and Android.
While we won’t see hardware manufacturers supporting the 4.1 spec in the short-term, it may be OpenGL 4.1 that powers the 3d graphics in our next generation of desktops, laptops, and hand-held devices.
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