Apples nya tungmetall

Guy English:

Both OpenGL and Direct3D have been rebooted a couple of times to better address the realities of the hardware they were providing access to. Direct3D was horrible for the first couple of revisions but, since it was driven entirely by Microsoft, eventually gained the advantage. A willingness to obsolete old APIs and actively promote new ones served Microsoft well here. When customers looking to buy a video card are asking themselves if a part is DX9 or DX11 compatible then you’ve successfully sold your API as a standard.

OpenGL, on the other hand, has had a slower evolution but an arguably more dynamic history. The OpenGL specification (and the “portable subset”, OpenGL ES) is governed by The Khronos Group. Putting technical issues aside for a moment I think we can all agree that’s just a great name for an organization. OpenGL is extensible by vendors and always has been. Vendors can expose new functionality or GPU state accessors through OpenGL.

The OpenGL API provides a primitive API to query which extensions are available and the function calls can be looked up via the platform dynamic library lookup functions. Which is voodoo to say that OpenGL extensions can be provided per vender, per driver for a particular piece of hardware. And a lot of them were. For a while OpenGL was well ahead of the game in terms of exposing the capabilities of various GPUs without needing to change the API entirely.

The cost of that innovation landed on the people writing the end user software who had to check for and use various vendor extensions in order to make the best use of the hardware they were running on.

Sjukt intressant läsning om Apples nya API:er för 3G-grafik. Med Metal får man betydligt större kontroll över vad grafikkortet i din iOS-enhet pysslar med utan att behöva oroa sig för att OpenGL-drivrutinerna ska ställa till det.

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