ETC2 Texture Compression For Intel Is Happening
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 20 October 2012 at 09:26 AM EDT. 3 Comments
While Intel is now forcing on S3TC to be advertised for their Mesa driver by default, the ETC2 texture compression scheme holds more hope and support for it within the Intel Mesa driver is also being worked on.

Back in July, Intel published ETC1 texture compression support for their Mesa driver while ETC2 texture compression is much more interesting. The OpenGL 4.3 release in August brought ETC2/EAC texture compression as a standard feature of the GL specification.

Version 2 of Ericsson Texture Compression allows for providing higher-quality RGB compression and RGBA data. Aside from ETC2/EAC being a requirement of OpenGL 4.3, it's also a requirement for OpenGL 3.0.

ETC2 looks really good and holds lots of promise for unseating S3 Texture Compression (S3TC) as the industry standard for texture compression. Unlike S3TC, ETC2 isn't a patent mess.

Just this week with the latest Unigine Engine update there is full ETC2 support. Unigine says, "Added full support for ETC2 texture compression (with T, H and planar compression modes supported out of the box). The compression quality of ETC2 algorithm is better than DXT, ATC or PVR ones." For the impressive game engine, ETC2 is whooping S3TC, ATC, and PVR texture compression schemes.

Hitting the Mesa mailing list last night from an independent developer were a set of 27 patches for the Intel Mesa DRI driver to implement ETC2.

Before getting too excited, however, this ETC2 support isn't a full implementation for texture compression on the hardware but rather is just immediately decoding the ETC2 data into RGBX data.

Even if these patches aren't the best, at least in time for Mesa 9.1/10.0 in early 2013 we should have proper ETC2 support for at least the open-source Intel driver. They really want OpenGL ES 3.0 in Mesa by time of the next release and with GLES 3.0 comes the hard requirement on ETC2 support.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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