Intel Ivy Bridge On Linux Properly Supports OpenGL ES 3.0
Intel HD 2500/4000 graphics on "Ivy Bridge" processors now officially support OpenGL ES 3.0 per the Khronos specification. Intel received early word that their conformance results have been certified.
The OpenGL ES 3.0 enablement within Mesa has been the quickest that has happened within this open-source OpenGL library for supporting a new GL spec. On the desktop OpenGL side they are still years behind (they're nearly at OpenGL 3.2 compliance compared to OpenGL 4.3 is the latest spec), but Intel was very committed to quick OpenGL ES 3.0 on the mobile front.
The GLES 3.0 spec was unveiled in August and Intel's Open-Source Technology Center developers were quick to jump on working towards this first major mobile OpenGL update in years. There's lots of good stuff to this new specification that pulls in some features from the desktop GL3/GL4 specifications.
OpenGL ES 3.0 is backwards compatible with OpenGL ES 2.0 while bringing in new features like ETC2/EAC texture compression as mandated by the spec, updates to the GLSL ES shading language, improved texturing, and rendering pipeline enhancements with features like instanced rendering and transform feedback.
It was in August that Intel finally became conformant to OpenGL ES 2.0 -- a five-year-old specification at the time -- while just a half-year after OpenGL ES 3.0, the Intel Mesa stack is now conformant with the industry graphics standard.
OpenGL ES 3.0 support is merged into Mesa for the 9.1 release due out later this month and Intel tested this code in conjunction with the Linux 3.6 kernel for their conformance results.
Last week I wrote that Intel hoped Mesa 9.1 would be OpenGL ES 3.0 conformant and they had submitted their driver results to the Khronos Group. Normally the results need to go through a 30-day review period, but it turns out that Khronos is ratifying the results early. Khronos wants to let their hardware partners advertise OpenGL ES 3.0 hardware next week at the Mobile World Congress conference, so they started approving results ahead of the normal 30-day period.
Intel HD 2500 and Intel HD 4000 (both the Ivy Bridge graphics parts) are defined as "conformant products" with Linux 3.6 and Mesa 9.1. These are the only desktop chipsets currently listed by Khronos as conformant. The only other approved GLES3 hardware at this time is the PowerVR "Rogue Hood", Qualcomm MSM8974, and Qualcomm MSM8064.
Worth noting is that all of these first OpenGL ES 3.0 products were under Linux/Android and there's no Microsoft Windows driver as part of this list for OpenGL ES 3.0 compliance. Intel's driver is also the only open-source conformant product with PowerVR and Qualcomm hardware being banged on by binary blobs.
Intel HD 2000/3000 "Sandy Bridge" hardware is also OpenGL ES 3.0 capable, but not officially right now. There's patches heading to Mesa 9.1 that will allow OpenGL ES 3.0 to officially work on this generation-old Intel hardware. Intel will be submitting Sandy Bridge results to Khronos soon.
Intel's Ian Romanick mentioned this achievement on his blog and the OpenGL ES conformant products are listed on the Khronos web-site.
Intel was able to get this OpenGL ES 3.0 support done so soon -- and in better shape than the Nouveau and Radeon drivers -- as they are now employing 20~30 open-source GPU driver developers while the open-source Radeon team is officially just a couple developers and on the Nouveau side it's just a community project with just Ben Skeggs at Red Hat officially working on the reverse-engineered driver. Intel is also still increasing their headcount even more for their open-source graphics team, should any qualified readers be interested.
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