Khronos Releases OpenGL 4.2 Specification, Enriches Cross-Platform 3D Graphics

The Khronos Group announced the release of the OpenGL 4.2 specification, bringing the very latest graphics functionality to its cross-platform 2D and 3D graphics API (application programming interface).

OpenGL 4.2 integrates developer feedback and continues the rapid evolution of this royalty-free specification while maintaining full backwards compatibility – enabling applications to incrementally use new features, while portably accessing state-of-the-art graphics processing unit (GPU) functionality across diverse operating systems and platforms.

The OpenGL 4.2 specification has been defined by the OpenGL ARB (Architecture Review Board) working group at Khronos, and includes the GLSL 4.20 update to the OpenGL Shading Language. The OpenGL 4.2 specification contains new features that extend functionality available to developers and enables increased application performance. The full specification is available for immediate download at

New functionality in the OpenGL 4.2 specification includes:

  • enabling shaders with atomic counters and load/store/atomic read-modify-write operations to a single level of a texture. These capabilities can be combined, for example, to maintain a counter at each pixel in a buffer object for single-rendering-pass order-independent transparency;
  • capturing GPU-tessellated geometry and drawing multiple instances of the result of a transform feedback to enable complex objects to be efficiently repositioned and replicated;
  • modifying an arbitrary subset of a compressed texture, without having to re-download the whole texture to the GPU for significant performance improvements;
  • packing multiple 8 and 16 bit values into a single 32-bit value for efficient shader processing with significantly reduced memory storage and bandwidth, especially useful when transferring data between shader stages.

“OpenGL 4.2 has integrated feedback from developers that are shipping significant OpenGL-based applications and games, making for a faster, more capable API which will continue to evolve to meet market needs,” says Barthold Lichtenbelt, working group chair of the OpenGL ARB and director of Tegra graphics at NVIDIA.

“AMD plans to release our OpenGL 4.2 beta drivers with the publication of the OpenGL 4.2 specification,” says Ben Bar-Haim, corporate vice president, AMD Software Development. “AMD strongly supports industry standards and congratulates the Khronos Group on their success in the rapid evolution of OpenGL and its other open standards that enable brilliant computing experiences.”

Learn About OpenGL 4.2 and Khronos APIs at SIGGRAPH 2011 BOF Meetings

WebGL Wed, August 10th 10AM-noon Convention Centre, Room 122 (West Building)
OpenCL Wed, August 10th 1:30-3:30PM Pan Pacific Hotel, Crystal Ballroom B&C
OpenGL Wed, Aug 10th 4-6PM Pan Pacific Hotel, Crystal Ballroom B&C
OpenGL ES/Mobile Thu, Aug 11th 10AM-noon Convention Centre, Room 122 (West Building)
COLLADA Thu, Aug 11th 2-4PM Convention Centre, Room 122 (West Building)

Visit Khronos at booth #663 and Khronos Press & Educators Open House at booth #764 to see Khronos members display Khronos Group-developed technology in action.

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