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Bridging the OpenGL and Vulkan divide

Filed under
Graphics/Benchmarks

Thanks to a new, low overhead extension in Mesa, OpenGL and Vulkan applications can now talk to each other, bringing more flexibility to application developers while easing the transition path between the industry-standard Khronos® APIs.

After several months of work, I'm excited to present a way for OpenGL and Vulkan applications to talk to each other when using Mesa.

Quoting from Khronos's own website, Vulkan promises to be a "new generation graphics and compute API that provides high-efficiency, cross-platform access to modern GPUs". However, as with all new API's, rewrites of any graphics applications leveraging Vulkan are going to be slow process. And not all applications might want to make the switch.

Since Vulkan offers higher efficiency and features missing in OpenGL, an application developer could however choose to rewrite performance critical sections in Vulkan, while keeping other parts in OpenGL for the sake of convenience. This would need a way for OpenGL and Vulkan to talk to each other. As of late 2016, this was formalized in the EXT_external_objects spec that defines primitives for exchanging buffers and syncrhonization primitives between OpenGL and Vulkan.

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Intel's OpenGL Mesa Drivers Now In Good Shape...

  • Intel's OpenGL Mesa Drivers Now In Good Shape For External Objects

    Over the past year developers from Igalia, Collabora, and others have been involved in bringing up support for the OpenGL EXT_external_objects extension within the Intel open-source drivers. That work is now squared away as one of the pieces for offering better interoperability between OpenGL and Vulkan.

    Last month the EXT_external_objects support for the Intel Iris Gallium3D driver was merged. Additionally, merged a few weeks back was EXT_external_objects support for the aging i965 Mesa driver that continues providing OpenGL support for pre-Broadwell hardware.

OpenGL and Vulkan applications can now talk to each other...

  • OpenGL and Vulkan applications can now talk to each other with Mesa drivers

    Not specifically gaming related but we love to cover industry stuff too, that might be interesting for some of our more technically minded users. Collabora have mentioned that thanks to work done on Mesa, OpenGL and Vulkan applications can now talk to each other.

    While Vulkan is the next-generation, and eventually anything that wants performance will move over from OpenGL like applications, game engines and games - this all takes time. The bigger games especially, often taking a great many years and an API switch isn't an easy thing. However, what if some parts could gradually move to Vulkan while keeping other bits OpenGL?

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