OpenGL 4.3, OpenGL ES 3.0 Specifications Unveiled
Written by Michael Larabel in Standards on 6 August 2012 at 10:19 AM EDT. 46 Comments
Just as I reported last week would happen at SIGGRAPH and in late May first talked about OpenGL ES 3.0, today at the first day of SIGGRAPH LA 2012 the Khronos Group announced the release of the OpenGL 4.3 and OpenGL ES 3.0 graphics API specifications.

It's been twenty years since the release of the original OpenGL specification and this royalty-free multi-platform graphics specification keeps moving forward. New functionality provided by the OpenGL 4.3 specification includes: compute shaders leveraging GPU parallelism within the context of the graphics pipeline, shader storage buffer objects, texture parameter queries, high-quality ETC2/EAC texture compression as a standard feature, debug capabilities to receive debugging messages during application development, texture views for interpreting textures in different ways without data replication, increased memory security, and a multi-application robustness extension.

In traditional NVIDIA fashion, they already have beta OpenGL 4.3 proprietary drivers (Linux support included) at AMD will likely put out a new beta of their AMD Catalyst Linux/Windows drivers soon to enable preliminary OpenGL 4.3 / GLSL 4.30 support soon. For the open-source Mesa/Gallium3D support, we're realistically not looking at that support to arrive until 2014 or later unless there's some significant investments made. Right now we're not even looking at OpenGL 3.1 until early 2013.

For mobile and other scenarios, OpenGL ES 3.0 was also released as the first update to OpenGL for Embedded Systems since 2007. OpenGL ES 3.0 is backwards compatible with OpenGL ES 2.0 while drawing on features from OpenGL 3.3 and OpenGL 4.2.

Among the OpenGL ES 3.0 features are enhancements to the rendering pipeline (occlusion queries, transform feedback, instanced rendering), ETC2/EAC texture compression, a new version of the GLSL ES shading language, and enhanced texturing functionality.

It will be easier/quicker for Mesa to support OpenGL ES 3.0 than OpenGL 4.3 since the embedded-focus specification builds upon OpenGL 3.3 / OpenGL 4.2, but there's still more work to be done within Mesa's GLES support until it will be in compliance with GLES 3.0.

The press releases with additional details on OpenGL 4.3 and OpenGL ES 3.0 are available from

In addition to the updated desktop and mobile/embedded graphics APIs, Khronos also released a new graphics texture compression scheme that is royalty-free and will hopefully begin to unseat S3TC.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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