Zink Could Prove An Interesting Solution For Evolving OpenGL

Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 9 October 2022 at 06:15 AM EDT. 32 Comments
Erik Faye-Lund of Collabora raised an interesting discussion this past week at XDC 2022 about leveraging Zink for post-OpenGL graphics development. With Zink able to run "anywhere" and currently focused on existing OpenGL APIs atop Vulkan, Zink could be used as a vehicle for developing new OpenGL APIs or trying to evolve the API in its own right while being able to run atop Vulkan API drivers on Windows or Linux.

Laminar Research as the developers behind the X-Plane flight simulator are the first to notably use Zink for OpenGL atop Vulkan on Windows and shipping it as part of the flight simulator. What Erik raised at XDC 2022 is that Zink could be used for morphing/evolving OpenGL and using Zink as the vehicle to allow for hardware acceleration by way of Vulkan.

Erik argues that "OpenGL [is] slowly passing the horizon, we need some modern alternatives" but that while Vulkan is great, it's not the best for casual graphics development especially for educational settings or experimentation. So his presentation raised the idea that Zink could be used for some new alternative or building further off OpenGL.

Zink in effect is a universal solution for being able to leverage hardware acceleration via Vulkan. There has long been Gallium3D state trackers, but the problem there is any new API implementations (and evolving of existing APIs / new extensions) being limited to just the open-source Mesa Gallium3D drivers - no support for the NVIDIA proprietary driver or Windows drivers. Zink meanwhile can run atop the NVIDIA binary driver as well as increasing Windows support.

Interesting food for discussion and will be interesting to see if anything happens in this area. See Erik's talk below and the few slides from this lightning talk.

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