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OpenGL SDL+OpenGL Pixel Access?

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I'm working on a little 2D particle game. I've got a two-dimensional array the same size as my screen that holds all of the particles. Thus, each particle is a single pixel. I've got some basic behavior working for the particles. My problem is actually rendering them to the screen, I've tried numerous methods, and I can't seem to get above ~5 FPS. I first tried directly accessing the pixels using glDrawPixels, but found that that is incredibly slow. My current setup loops through the particle array and renders any particles that aren't air. This rendering was in immediate mode, but tonight I read up on display lists and am now using those for rendering the particles. This gave me a 1-2 FPS gain, to my average of 5 FPS as stated above. I know that VBOs exist, but from what I know, they aren't so much faster than DLs that they are going to magically solve my problem. It seems that any method that involves rendering to the screen 786,432 times (my resolution is 1024x768) is going to be far too slow. Is that correct, or am I missing something? That being said, my best guess is that the solution is going to be doing something software side and ultimately creating a single texture with the current gamestate, and just rendering that to the screen. I actually tried that before my current method, by using glTexSubImage2D, but that was not much faster. Am I correct in thinking that this is the way to go?

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When I was writing an OpenGL raycaster I used a texture memory buffer and just wrote pixel data to that using some macros. The glTexSubImage2D function worked great to generate a texture which I mapped to a full screen quad. I would say that's the best method for quick and dirty pixel rendering.

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I second jjanevski's suggestion, of updating your own texture in RAM and updating OpenGL's copy of it before rendering each frame, but I personally would also segment it so I could cut back on updating unchanged areas; if you can rely on a fixed resolution or don't mind a bit of offscreen waste at some resolutions, I'd break the screen up into a number of 32x32 or 64x64 pixel blocks.

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I actually tried using jjanevski's method already, and unfortunately it got me ~3 FPS. I think the overhead of calling glTexSubImage2D enough times to put each particle on the texture is just too much. Right now, I'm instead using glBegin(GL_POINTS) + glVertex2f, and this gets ~70 FPS, not counting other factors.

Wyrframe, the game already has a fixed resolution, so no problem there. What exactly do you mean by breaking the screen up into blocks of pixels? Do you mean several different textures used for rendering them all to the screen?

And to anyone else, I am beginning to wonder if maybe there is no good way to do this in OpenGL. I am thinking about trying good old fashioned SDL tonight, because I know I can pretty easily screw with a surface and then render that in SDL. What do you guys think?

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I tried using SDL, but that was only slower, so I'm going to stick with OpenGL. I've read a little about pixel buffer objects, and now I'm wondering if those might help me out.

Will pixel buffer objects help speed up drawing a ton of individual pixels?

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