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OpenGL OpenGL 5 - Release?

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This seems to be an odd question as you will have most likely also no clue about this, however I was wondering when OpenGL 5 was announced a few months ago, everyone including the press was really excited and they talked about great new features it implements and what it is going to be and how many partners they already have, inlcuding Microsoft.

 

Sooooo... when is it going to be released?

In one, two, three, five years?

 

When I google OpenGL 5 I get mostly only OpenGL 4.5 as a result *scratching*

I think this is a pretty important question. If they really are going to overhaul the whole thing then developers and studios should know if they are safe to buy new hardware yet (or is it going to be obsolete next year again because it can't use OGL5) or if major projects are safe to start and not being obsolete on release.

 

Sooooo.... does ANYone know ANYthing about this?

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OpenGL 5 was announced a few months ago??

 

[edit] I assume you're thinking of this: https://www.khronos.org/news/press/khronos-group-announces-key-advances-in-opengl-ecosystem

 

"Next Generation OpenGL" will be a complete rewrite of OpenGL from scratch... so hopefully it will be called "OpenGL NG" and not "OpenGL 5".

 

Current top-of-the line GPUs will be DX12/Mantle compatible (though only AMD are writing Mantle drivers at the moment). So I would assume OpenGL NG will be based around the same set of hardware features as DX12/Mantle GPUs.

Edited by Hodgman

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So expect it to be done when its done. And that's assuming it will be done, it might not.


Yeah, anyone familiar with OpenGL 2, and then OpenGL 3 especially, will realize that expecting Khronos to actually push a new API is a huge leap of faith.

If they really are going to overhaul the whole thing then developers and studios should know if they are safe to buy new hardware yet (or is it going to be obsolete next year again because it can't use OGL5) or if major projects are safe to start and not being obsolete on release.


If you're important, you'll know. You'll have pre-release hardware from the IHVs and you'll have NDA access to the SDKs for the new API. Everybody else is just fine developing against current APIs; it's not like they'll stop working. Due to that whole NDA thing, anyone with any meaty information on this topic is not allowed to share it with random inquisitive developers. (If you thought "OpenGL" was developed in the open or open to the community or open to direct reuse or even just more open than D3D, you've fallen into the clever trap of misleading marketing names.)

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So here goes a question - What is the big deal with OpenGL Next? From what I read so far nothing yet.

 

I am not a Graphics or Engine programmer - However I am an 3D Artist that deals with applications like Unreal 4, Cryengine, etc on a daily basis.

 

Sorry for the newbie questions. :\

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What is the big deal with OpenGL Next? From what I read so far nothing yet.


From your perspective, near nothing. It's mostly about speed. At most it'll let you have more complex models on the same hardware. There will be some new hardware features exposed by that time frame but those would've come to existing OpenGL anyway.

Just look at the marketing material for the Microsoft D3D12, AMD Mantle, or Apple Metal pre-release announcements. You'll get that, but with an OpenGL sticker on the box.

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From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenGL#OpenGL_NG

 

This is a codename given by journalists to a grounds-up redesign effort (semi-officially called "The Next Generation OpenGL Initiative"), to unify OpenGL and OpenGL ES into one common API that will not be backwards compatible with existing OpenGL versions.

 

"to unify OpenGL and OpenGL ES into one common API" can be important to some developers.

At the same time I guess it will make a lot of features optional which could complicate things, though hopefully there will be some sort of IsDesktop() or IsES() so we don't have to handle too many different cases.

Edited by Erik Rufelt

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If you thought "OpenGL" was developed in the open or open to the community or open to direct reuse or even just more open than D3D, you've fallen into the clever trap of misleading marketing names.

 

Minor OT: The problem is, that even some schools and universities teach about OpenGL being Open (which is huge mistake) - OpenGL is just a standard (which a lot of people doesn't really know), it is up to vendors whether they will implement it or not (and yes, that can happen if they decide to do some epic major changes with new upcoming versions), also these implementations are not open either. You can grab open implementation of OpenGL, they are at version 3.3 core profile (google for MesaGL).

 

The whole OpenGL NG is just a community thing, everyone would like unification of GL ES and GL api, removing legacy code (and removing compatiblity profiles - because I got the idea that nobody sane uses them anyway); better interface, etc. But I doubt it will really happen with just one version...

 

EDIT: My appologize, Erik Rufelt was faster. smile.png

Edited by Vilem Otte

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You can grab open implementation of OpenGL, they are at version 3.3 core profile (google for MesaGL).


You can grab an open sourced recreation of D3D9; from that same project in fact. That doesn't make D3D "open."

(btw, very minor nit, but it's just "Mesa" and not "MesaGL")

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To be honest, there's no reason to hold off on learning/teaching the later of the current APIs. The fundamentals are more or less the same, the operations you can do are largely uncharged. What the new APIs give you is more control over how you do these operations, e.g. Where the memory for the operations is coming from, when you want to make GPU resources resident or nonresident (which the driver would have had to guess before), etc etc. So you can treat the current APIs as a stepping stone towards the new APIs.

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From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenGL#OpenGL_NG

 

This is a codename given by journalists to a grounds-up redesign effort (semi-officially called "The Next Generation OpenGL Initiative"), to unify OpenGL and OpenGL ES into one common API that will not be backwards compatible with existing OpenGL versions.

 

"to unify OpenGL and OpenGL ES into one common API" can be important to some developers.

At the same time I guess it will make a lot of features optional which could complicate things, though hopefully there will be some sort of IsDesktop() or IsES() so we don't have to handle too many different cases.

That is very important. Even though both versions are very similar they have a big impact on the overall code architecture which stops many projects from being ported from OGL to OGL ES easily or at all.
Also I have read that they want to support multi-core finally.

However the really interesting line is "will not be backwards compatible with existing OpenGL versions".

I expect a big architecture change which will also have a big impact on existing projects and engines that want to support the new OGL version. Sadly OGL is the only good cross-platform 3D API, I would use Mantle if it would be available on mobile devices :P

Sure OpenGL ist not open for everyone but for the industry.

However it drives me mad that they are announcing it without any further information when they expect it to be ready. My local newspapers went mad with this news but missing information everywhere.

I was just asking myself if I should participate in a new 3D project even though this project might be outdated when it is finished (Of course this is always the case, but it is a difference when you actually know that it is going to be outdated. Like knowing the date of your death.) which I do not like at all, or participate in other projects and wait for a proper Mantle, DX12 or OGL Next implementation.
 

And I think the "speed" part is not stressed enough. We have a nearly unlimited calculation capacity on the GPU side but are unable to actually use it because of (to say it simple, like many articles on the internet:) "many API calls".

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Khronos is keeping the information regarding GL NG quite tight within their group members.

Normally I'd be very sceptic about it; but considering the pool of talented developers behind NG (Johan Andersson, Graham Sellers, Riccio, some Unity devs), the Mantle precedence, and the striving need for a cross platform high performance API (DirectX is no longer "enough", e.g. Android, iOS; then Metal has just a portion of the OS market; Mantle just a portion of the GPU market); I have more faith than usual.

Take in mind it is most likely GL NG will be just GL4.5 without any legacy cruft, with a unified shader compiler or IL, plus some ideas taken from the Mantle API like being multithread friendly, explicit access of DMA engines, and being multi-GPU and multi-monitor aware.

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Take in mind it is most likely GL NG will be just GL4.5 without any legacy cruft, with a unified shader compiler or IL, plus some ideas taken from the Mantle API like being multithread friendly, explicit access of DMA engines, and being multi-GPU and multi-monitor aware.


I don't think it will... or rather if it is then I'll slap a bit Failed sign on the API and move on with my life.
OpenGL, as it stands, does not reflect the GPU and just 'dropping the cruft' does not get you the performance you need.

Mantle is a simple API, from someone doing a dump of the entry points it has around 40 entry points, that is it.

OpenGL NG needs to look more like the proposed Mantle/D3D12 model than the current OpenGL model; 'cutting the cruft' isn't going to cut it this time around.

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I'm overly optimistic that they'll just release another round of API entry points that allow more explicit resource control and pipeline state management while staying completely compatible with existing OpenGL, making the documentation and tutorials and driver complexity even worse. Again, just look at Khronos' history.

Khronos and their members worry overly much about legacy niche workstation products and not new users or game developers or whatnot. Those workstation users tend to scream and cry and stamp their feet when anyone suggests that they be forced to clean up their code in order to get access to new hardware features. OpenGL NG will very likely just be a new set of entry points. Hopefully I'm mispredicting this one but history speaks for itself.

Honestly, the biggest problem with OpenGL isn't even its API. It's the fact that Khronos is not a software developer, doesn't deliver any common production-level code, every implementor reimplements the entirety of the spec from top to bottom, and every implementation has its own shoddy debugging tools and unique sets of bugs and performance trade-offs and conformance issues from the API support to the shader parser and so on. OpenGL doesn't need a new spec so much as it needs a central authority to write and deliver a common core set of code that all implementations plug into - along with a set of best-of-breed tools built around that core - that removes as many variables as possible from independent implementations.

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Those workstation users tend to scream and cry and stamp their feet when anyone suggests that they be forced to clean up their code in order to get access to new hardware features.


I'm assuming this is a reference to the Longs Peak/GL3.0 debacle?
If so, I do have one little bit of information which I got from someone working on the spec at the time : the CAD companies didn't kill it, despite what was said at the time.

My money, personally, was on someone like Blizzard or Apple torpedoing things but that's purely my gut feeling.

Either way, while I'm in a "I'll believe it when I see it..." mood this time around they do have some forward looking game dev guys on the group who are making the choices so unlike if it had just been Khronos alone announcing this I have a bit more faith.

I mean, I won't be surprised if they cock up and the game dev guys come out saying "they didn't listen..." but it's not a 100% certainty it'll happen.

(more like 75%... ) Edited by phantom

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If so, I do have one little bit of information which I got from someone working on the spec at the time : the CAD companies didn't kill it, despite what was said at the time.

 

That's pretty much what I heard too (although the rumour I heard was that it was a hardware vendor).

 

Regarding GL NG/5/whatever, best-case scenario is that we get a streamlined low-level API that we can code directly to, and all previous GL functionality is re-implemented via a software wrapper library that sits on top of that.  It would be cool if the IHVs cooperated on building this, but it wouldn't be necessary.

 

The more realistic scenario is something more like another bunch of extensions to add to the current mess, and we end up waiting 2/3/4/5 years for Intel and AMD to fully implement them in their drivers.

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If you look at the slides Kronos presented, it would appear that's it's a brand new API, especially since AMD offered the Mantle source to base it on.

 

However, I suspect it will involve creating an OpenGL NG context, with backwards compatibility optional. That way we'll have OpenGL 5, which will comprise of a new set of AZDO like extensions, plus an NG core profile where the extensions are promoted to full integration.

 

Personally I'm really hoping for a new API, I just don't see it happening. But fingers crossed it will happen.

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The more realistic scenario is something more like another bunch of extensions to add to the current mess, and we end up waiting 2/3/4/5 years for Intel and AMD to fully implement them in their drivers.


I guess it all comes down to how serious they were about 'brand new API' in the slides.

My bet on the path would be that next year you get a shiny spec for OpenGL|NG and maybe some implementation but likely not until Siggraph (as that tends to be when OpenGL stuff is announced) along side an OpenGL4.6 spec which adds a bunch of new extensions for many of the things but not all of them.

The thing is the worry about 'backwards compatibility' isn't really a big one; every time DX changes tools get rewritten, games get rewritten, people are willing to take the pain IFF the gains are worth it (thus lack of D3D10 adoption) - game devs have spent some time yelling about this and when Mantle appeared went 'yes... this!' and where heavily critical of the OpenGL approach of 'look, these extensions mean we don't need a new API!' hand waving we got for about a year (until suddenly a new API was a good idea..).

If they haven't learnt from it then OpenGL will remain the ugly child left out in the cold once more, only used when we are forced to.

(And while everyone loves to yell about cross platform compatibility lets not forget that Mobile is the only place OpenGL, in the form of OpenGL|ES, has any real weight. D3D gets you Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox, PS4 uses it's own API, iOS has Metal, WiiU has it's own API and Linux and OSX are still showing very low market shares still for desktop - and OpenGL|ES also suffers the overhead problem (along with general Android cluster-fuckery) - so if they screw up it'll be a screw up which will be largely ignored in the AAA space in favour of the better APIs anyway until we are forced to deal with it, and I personally wouldn't count on seeing OpenGL|NG in whatever form it takes on Android until maybe 2016 or 2017 anyway so...)

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I wonder if they actually making a new API, and its good and all... How much of an impact it would actually have? Would developers move from D3D to OpenGL? Like, would someone make OpenGL their only API for targeting OSX, Linux and Windows? Are people actually waiting for a new OpenGL spec to jump right away? Or its just developers being annoyed at the API for its crappy existence, even when they don't even plan to use it?

 

Thing is, I can't see "OpenGL Next" making a big impact. Otherwise we'd at the very least see Microsoft throwing money bags at people (hardware makers? developers? all of them?) to stop it from happening.

 

One would think that there are things that Microsoft simply can't prevent, they can't force people not to use OpenGL in Android nor iOS since Windows Phone hasn't gone anywhere (relatively) and they can't prevent people from using OpenGL in Linux nor OSX (then again its not like there are swaths of developers trying to get something released for Gentoo exactly).

 

I'm suspicious nevertheless. They have simply a lot of strings to pull from.

Edited by TheChubu

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I know why people are skeptical, but it seems to me that with the release of all these new APIs (mantel, metal, DX12) there is more incentive for them to actually deliver on their promise this time around.

 

I want to believe.

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Speaking of Microsoft, they do also participate in the OpenGL NG program.

I wonder what they are planning, sabotaging the development or just spying out?

 

If you look at the slides Kronos presented, it would appear that's it's a brand new API, especially since AMD offered the Mantle source to base it on.

 

[...]

 

Have you a source on this "AMD offered Mantle source"? AMD isn't listed as a partner for OpenGL NG.

My interpretation is that OpenGL NG is like a movement. Everybody knew for years that the current APIs are leading to a dead end. With AMD providing a completly new cross-hardware public API all of those companies finally gathered to finally create a new solution for this neverending problem to use GPUs effectively.

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Oh for the love of pete...

Dear Microsoft Conspiracy Theorists,

This is not the 90s or early 200s.
Microsoft have had nothing do with OpenGL since they left the ARB in March 2003 - 11 years ago.
Since then NV, ATI, AMD, Intel and others managed to successfully blunder the development of OpenGL on the desktop platform on their own.
MS don't need to sabotage OpenGL because the ARB and the Khronos board made up of ARB members managed to royally screw that up on their own - D3D won the battle some time ago.

The ONLY thing MS are involved in is their recent sign up to the WebGL group because they are implementing it (as everyone asked them to do...).

Please... just... learn some history and update your mental model... because... well... ugh... Edited by phantom
Added the missing 's'...

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I wonder if they actually making a new API, and its good and all... How much of an impact it would actually have? Would developers move from D3D to OpenGL? Like, would someone make OpenGL their only API for targeting OSX, Linux and Windows? Are people actually waiting for a new OpenGL spec to jump right away? Or its just developers being annoyed at the API for its crappy existence, even when they don't even plan to use it?

 

I think it's more for improving the development process, and to simplify for apps that use the same code for mobile and desktop versions (which I think are still pretty few). For the future, interoperability between desktop and mobile environments, as well as tablets as desktop-replacements would also benefit.

Windows 8 already has this cross-compiling with pretty much exactly the same code (though that's not something OpenGL in itself can accomplish).

 

 

Thing is, I can't see "OpenGL Next" making a big impact. Otherwise we'd at the very least see Microsoft throwing money bags at people (hardware makers? developers? all of them?) to stop it from happening.

 

One would think that there are things that Microsoft simply can't prevent, they can't force people not to use OpenGL in Android nor iOS since Windows Phone hasn't gone anywhere (relatively) and they can't prevent people from using OpenGL in Linux nor OSX (then again its not like there are swaths of developers trying to get something released for Gentoo exactly).

 

With Microsoft making Visual Studio support Android / iOS I would rather guess that they'll be adding an OpenGL layer.. as they seem to care more about getting a marketshare in mobile than keeping games Windows-exclusive on desktop (which they don't really need, there aren't many contenders). Getting people to write Android/iOS apps in Visual Studio on a Windows desktop and then making those app directly cross-compileable to Windows Phone without much effort seems to make much more sense if they want to grow their platform.

My guess is that they've realized they're way too late to the party to leverage their desktop market to gain mobile share, and people making money of mobile apps are already set up in Xcode or an Android-exclusive IDE, from which the porting-costs to Windows are usually higher than the expected return.

 

At the same time a significant part of Android / iOS developers, possibly a majority of professionals, actually started out with or at least have experience with VC++, and might very much welcome the possibility to develop there.

 

I'm certainly one of those, and I already do that. I've written my own layer API for the graphics/sound/input to be able to program my apps entirely in VC++ and then just switch to Xcode and press compile when I'm ready to release. But then there are texture-formats, files need to be added to the corresponding projects, shaders in GLES must match the HLSL/GLSL versions etc, and every change I make to the graphics layer must be implemented for all underlying APIs, so personally I would very much appreciate a better OpenGL that works cross-platform.

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Like, would someone make OpenGL their only API for targeting OSX, Linux and Windows?

 

I'd love to; right now D3D is a tradeoff between being a just plain better API on the one hand versus being tied to Windows versions on the other.  The latter really pisses me off but the former still carries enough weight to swing things in it's favour.  If Microsoft don't do the decent thing with D3D12, and if the ARB don't screw up again, then I'm making the jump.

 

The thing is the worry about 'backwards compatibility' isn't really a big one; every time DX changes tools get rewritten, games get rewritten, people are willing to take the pain IFF the gains are worth it (thus lack of D3D10 adoption) - game devs have spent some time yelling about this and when Mantle appeared went 'yes... this!' and where heavily critical of the OpenGL approach of 'look, these extensions mean we don't need a new API!' hand waving we got for about a year (until suddenly a new API was a good idea..).

 

The whole backwards compatibility malarkey was always a false objection, and this is true of CAD vendors as well as game developers, and it was true of GL3 as it is true now.

 

A new GL version doesn't force anybody to rewrite their code.  They just need to keep targetting the older versions and everything still works.

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      Graphics APIs have come a long way from small set of basic commands allowing limited control of configurable stages of early 3D accelerators to very low-level programming interfaces exposing almost every aspect of the underlying graphics hardware. Next-generation APIs, Direct3D12 by Microsoft and Vulkan by Khronos are relatively new and have only started getting widespread adoption and support from hardware vendors, while Direct3D11 and OpenGL are still considered industry standard. New APIs can provide substantial performance and functional improvements, but may not be supported by older hardware. An application targeting wide range of platforms needs to support Direct3D11 and OpenGL. New APIs will not give any advantage when used with old paradigms. It is totally possible to add Direct3D12 support to an existing renderer by implementing Direct3D11 interface through Direct3D12, but this will give zero benefits. Instead, new approaches and rendering architectures that leverage flexibility provided by the next-generation APIs are expected to be developed.
      There are at least four APIs (Direct3D11, Direct3D12, OpenGL/GLES, Vulkan, plus Apple's Metal for iOS and osX platforms) that a cross-platform 3D application may need to support. Writing separate code paths for all APIs is clearly not an option for any real-world application and the need for a cross-platform graphics abstraction layer is evident. The following is the list of requirements that I believe such layer needs to satisfy:
      Lightweight abstractions: the API should be as close to the underlying native APIs as possible to allow an application leverage all available low-level functionality. In many cases this requirement is difficult to achieve because specific features exposed by different APIs may vary considerably. Low performance overhead: the abstraction layer needs to be efficient from performance point of view. If it introduces considerable amount of overhead, there is no point in using it. Convenience: the API needs to be convenient to use. It needs to assist developers in achieving their goals not limiting their control of the graphics hardware. Multithreading: ability to efficiently parallelize work is in the core of Direct3D12 and Vulkan and one of the main selling points of the new APIs. Support for multithreading in a cross-platform layer is a must. Extensibility: no matter how well the API is designed, it still introduces some level of abstraction. In some cases the most efficient way to implement certain functionality is to directly use native API. The abstraction layer needs to provide seamless interoperability with the underlying native APIs to provide a way for the app to add features that may be missing. Diligent Engine is designed to solve these problems. Its main goal is to take advantages of the next-generation APIs such as Direct3D12 and Vulkan, but at the same time provide support for older platforms via Direct3D11, OpenGL and OpenGLES. Diligent Engine exposes common C++ front-end for all supported platforms and provides interoperability with underlying native APIs. It also supports integration with Unity and is designed to be used as graphics subsystem in a standalone game engine, Unity native plugin or any other 3D application. Full source code is available for download at GitHub and is free to use.
      Overview
      Diligent Engine API takes some features from Direct3D11 and Direct3D12 as well as introduces new concepts to hide certain platform-specific details and make the system easy to use. It contains the following main components:
      Render device (IRenderDevice  interface) is responsible for creating all other objects (textures, buffers, shaders, pipeline states, etc.).
      Device context (IDeviceContext interface) is the main interface for recording rendering commands. Similar to Direct3D11, there are immediate context and deferred contexts (which in Direct3D11 implementation map directly to the corresponding context types). Immediate context combines command queue and command list recording functionality. It records commands and submits the command list for execution when it contains sufficient number of commands. Deferred contexts are designed to only record command lists that can be submitted for execution through the immediate context.
      An alternative way to design the API would be to expose command queue and command lists directly. This approach however does not map well to Direct3D11 and OpenGL. Besides, some functionality (such as dynamic descriptor allocation) can be much more efficiently implemented when it is known that a command list is recorded by a certain deferred context from some thread.
      The approach taken in the engine does not limit scalability as the application is expected to create one deferred context per thread, and internally every deferred context records a command list in lock-free fashion. At the same time this approach maps well to older APIs.
      In current implementation, only one immediate context that uses default graphics command queue is created. To support multiple GPUs or multiple command queue types (compute, copy, etc.), it is natural to have one immediate contexts per queue. Cross-context synchronization utilities will be necessary.
      Swap Chain (ISwapChain interface). Swap chain interface represents a chain of back buffers and is responsible for showing the final rendered image on the screen.
      Render device, device contexts and swap chain are created during the engine initialization.
      Resources (ITexture and IBuffer interfaces). There are two types of resources - textures and buffers. There are many different texture types (2D textures, 3D textures, texture array, cubmepas, etc.) that can all be represented by ITexture interface.
      Resources Views (ITextureView and IBufferView interfaces). While textures and buffers are mere data containers, texture views and buffer views describe how the data should be interpreted. For instance, a 2D texture can be used as a render target for rendering commands or as a shader resource.
      Pipeline State (IPipelineState interface). GPU pipeline contains many configurable stages (depth-stencil, rasterizer and blend states, different shader stage, etc.). Direct3D11 uses coarse-grain objects to set all stage parameters at once (for instance, a rasterizer object encompasses all rasterizer attributes), while OpenGL contains myriad functions to fine-grain control every individual attribute of every stage. Both methods do not map very well to modern graphics hardware that combines all states into one monolithic state under the hood. Direct3D12 directly exposes pipeline state object in the API, and Diligent Engine uses the same approach.
      Shader Resource Binding (IShaderResourceBinding interface). Shaders are programs that run on the GPU. Shaders may access various resources (textures and buffers), and setting correspondence between shader variables and actual resources is called resource binding. Resource binding implementation varies considerably between different API. Diligent Engine introduces a new object called shader resource binding that encompasses all resources needed by all shaders in a certain pipeline state.
      API Basics
      Creating Resources
      Device resources are created by the render device. The two main resource types are buffers, which represent linear memory, and textures, which use memory layouts optimized for fast filtering. Graphics APIs usually have a native object that represents linear buffer. Diligent Engine uses IBuffer interface as an abstraction for a native buffer. To create a buffer, one needs to populate BufferDesc structure and call IRenderDevice::CreateBuffer() method as in the following example:
      BufferDesc BuffDesc; BufferDesc.Name = "Uniform buffer"; BuffDesc.BindFlags = BIND_UNIFORM_BUFFER; BuffDesc.Usage = USAGE_DYNAMIC; BuffDesc.uiSizeInBytes = sizeof(ShaderConstants); BuffDesc.CPUAccessFlags = CPU_ACCESS_WRITE; m_pDevice->CreateBuffer( BuffDesc, BufferData(), &m_pConstantBuffer ); While there is usually just one buffer object, different APIs use very different approaches to represent textures. For instance, in Direct3D11, there are ID3D11Texture1D, ID3D11Texture2D, and ID3D11Texture3D objects. In OpenGL, there is individual object for every texture dimension (1D, 2D, 3D, Cube), which may be a texture array, which may also be multisampled (i.e. GL_TEXTURE_2D_MULTISAMPLE_ARRAY). As a result there are nine different GL texture types that Diligent Engine may create under the hood. In Direct3D12, there is only one resource interface. Diligent Engine hides all these details in ITexture interface. There is only one  IRenderDevice::CreateTexture() method that is capable of creating all texture types. Dimension, format, array size and all other parameters are specified by the members of the TextureDesc structure:
      TextureDesc TexDesc; TexDesc.Name = "My texture 2D"; TexDesc.Type = TEXTURE_TYPE_2D; TexDesc.Width = 1024; TexDesc.Height = 1024; TexDesc.Format = TEX_FORMAT_RGBA8_UNORM; TexDesc.Usage = USAGE_DEFAULT; TexDesc.BindFlags = BIND_SHADER_RESOURCE | BIND_RENDER_TARGET | BIND_UNORDERED_ACCESS; TexDesc.Name = "Sample 2D Texture"; m_pRenderDevice->CreateTexture( TexDesc, TextureData(), &m_pTestTex ); If native API supports multithreaded resource creation, textures and buffers can be created by multiple threads simultaneously.
      Interoperability with native API provides access to the native buffer/texture objects and also allows creating Diligent Engine objects from native handles. It allows applications seamlessly integrate native API-specific code with Diligent Engine.
      Next-generation APIs allow fine level-control over how resources are allocated. Diligent Engine does not currently expose this functionality, but it can be added by implementing IResourceAllocator interface that encapsulates specifics of resource allocation and providing this interface to CreateBuffer() or CreateTexture() methods. If null is provided, default allocator should be used.
      Initializing the Pipeline State
      As it was mentioned earlier, Diligent Engine follows next-gen APIs to configure the graphics/compute pipeline. One big Pipelines State Object (PSO) encompasses all required states (all shader stages, input layout description, depth stencil, rasterizer and blend state descriptions etc.). This approach maps directly to Direct3D12/Vulkan, but is also beneficial for older APIs as it eliminates pipeline misconfiguration errors. With many individual calls tweaking various GPU pipeline settings it is very easy to forget to set one of the states or assume the stage is already properly configured when in fact it is not. Using pipeline state object helps avoid these problems as all stages are configured at once.
      Creating Shaders
      While in earlier APIs shaders were bound separately, in the next-generation APIs as well as in Diligent Engine shaders are part of the pipeline state object. The biggest challenge when authoring shaders is that Direct3D and OpenGL/Vulkan use different shader languages (while Apple uses yet another language in their Metal API). Maintaining two versions of every shader is not an option for real applications and Diligent Engine implements shader source code converter that allows shaders authored in HLSL to be translated to GLSL. To create a shader, one needs to populate ShaderCreationAttribs structure. SourceLanguage member of this structure tells the system which language the shader is authored in:
      SHADER_SOURCE_LANGUAGE_DEFAULT - The shader source language matches the underlying graphics API: HLSL for Direct3D11/Direct3D12 mode, and GLSL for OpenGL and OpenGLES modes. SHADER_SOURCE_LANGUAGE_HLSL - The shader source is in HLSL. For OpenGL and OpenGLES modes, the source code will be converted to GLSL. SHADER_SOURCE_LANGUAGE_GLSL - The shader source is in GLSL. There is currently no GLSL to HLSL converter, so this value should only be used for OpenGL and OpenGLES modes. There are two ways to provide the shader source code. The first way is to use Source member. The second way is to provide a file path in FilePath member. Since the engine is entirely decoupled from the platform and the host file system is platform-dependent, the structure exposes pShaderSourceStreamFactory member that is intended to provide the engine access to the file system. If FilePath is provided, shader source factory must also be provided. If the shader source contains any #include directives, the source stream factory will also be used to load these files. The engine provides default implementation for every supported platform that should be sufficient in most cases. Custom implementation can be provided when needed.
      When sampling a texture in a shader, the texture sampler was traditionally specified as separate object that was bound to the pipeline at run time or set as part of the texture object itself. However, in most cases it is known beforehand what kind of sampler will be used in the shader. Next-generation APIs expose new type of sampler called static sampler that can be initialized directly in the pipeline state. Diligent Engine exposes this functionality: when creating a shader, textures can be assigned static samplers. If static sampler is assigned, it will always be used instead of the one initialized in the texture shader resource view. To initialize static samplers, prepare an array of StaticSamplerDesc structures and initialize StaticSamplers and NumStaticSamplers members. Static samplers are more efficient and it is highly recommended to use them whenever possible. On older APIs, static samplers are emulated via generic sampler objects.
      The following is an example of shader initialization:
      ShaderCreationAttribs Attrs; Attrs.Desc.Name = "MyPixelShader"; Attrs.FilePath = "MyShaderFile.fx"; Attrs.SearchDirectories = "shaders;shaders\\inc;"; Attrs.EntryPoint = "MyPixelShader"; Attrs.Desc.ShaderType = SHADER_TYPE_PIXEL; Attrs.SourceLanguage = SHADER_SOURCE_LANGUAGE_HLSL; BasicShaderSourceStreamFactory BasicSSSFactory(Attrs.SearchDirectories); Attrs.pShaderSourceStreamFactory = &BasicSSSFactory; ShaderVariableDesc ShaderVars[] = {     {"g_StaticTexture", SHADER_VARIABLE_TYPE_STATIC},     {"g_MutableTexture", SHADER_VARIABLE_TYPE_MUTABLE},     {"g_DynamicTexture", SHADER_VARIABLE_TYPE_DYNAMIC} }; Attrs.Desc.VariableDesc = ShaderVars; Attrs.Desc.NumVariables = _countof(ShaderVars); Attrs.Desc.DefaultVariableType = SHADER_VARIABLE_TYPE_STATIC; StaticSamplerDesc StaticSampler; StaticSampler.Desc.MinFilter = FILTER_TYPE_LINEAR; StaticSampler.Desc.MagFilter = FILTER_TYPE_LINEAR; StaticSampler.Desc.MipFilter = FILTER_TYPE_LINEAR; StaticSampler.TextureName = "g_MutableTexture"; Attrs.Desc.NumStaticSamplers = 1; Attrs.Desc.StaticSamplers = &StaticSampler; ShaderMacroHelper Macros; Macros.AddShaderMacro("USE_SHADOWS", 1); Macros.AddShaderMacro("NUM_SHADOW_SAMPLES", 4); Macros.Finalize(); Attrs.Macros = Macros; RefCntAutoPtr<IShader> pShader; m_pDevice->CreateShader( Attrs, &pShader );
      Creating the Pipeline State Object
      After all required shaders are created, the rest of the fields of the PipelineStateDesc structure provide depth-stencil, rasterizer, and blend state descriptions, the number and format of render targets, input layout format, etc. For instance, rasterizer state can be described as follows:
      PipelineStateDesc PSODesc; RasterizerStateDesc &RasterizerDesc = PSODesc.GraphicsPipeline.RasterizerDesc; RasterizerDesc.FillMode = FILL_MODE_SOLID; RasterizerDesc.CullMode = CULL_MODE_NONE; RasterizerDesc.FrontCounterClockwise = True; RasterizerDesc.ScissorEnable = True; RasterizerDesc.AntialiasedLineEnable = False; Depth-stencil and blend states are defined in a similar fashion.
      Another important thing that pipeline state object encompasses is the input layout description that defines how inputs to the vertex shader, which is the very first shader stage, should be read from the memory. Input layout may define several vertex streams that contain values of different formats and sizes:
      // Define input layout InputLayoutDesc &Layout = PSODesc.GraphicsPipeline.InputLayout; LayoutElement TextLayoutElems[] = {     LayoutElement( 0, 0, 3, VT_FLOAT32, False ),     LayoutElement( 1, 0, 4, VT_UINT8, True ),     LayoutElement( 2, 0, 2, VT_FLOAT32, False ), }; Layout.LayoutElements = TextLayoutElems; Layout.NumElements = _countof( TextLayoutElems ); Finally, pipeline state defines primitive topology type. When all required members are initialized, a pipeline state object can be created by IRenderDevice::CreatePipelineState() method:
      // Define shader and primitive topology PSODesc.GraphicsPipeline.PrimitiveTopologyType = PRIMITIVE_TOPOLOGY_TYPE_TRIANGLE; PSODesc.GraphicsPipeline.pVS = pVertexShader; PSODesc.GraphicsPipeline.pPS = pPixelShader; PSODesc.Name = "My pipeline state"; m_pDev->CreatePipelineState(PSODesc, &m_pPSO); When PSO object is bound to the pipeline, the engine invokes all API-specific commands to set all states specified by the object. In case of Direct3D12 this maps directly to setting the D3D12 PSO object. In case of Direct3D11, this involves setting individual state objects (such as rasterizer and blend states), shaders, input layout etc. In case of OpenGL, this requires a number of fine-grain state tweaking calls. Diligent Engine keeps track of currently bound states and only calls functions to update these states that have actually changed.
      Binding Shader Resources
      Direct3D11 and OpenGL utilize fine-grain resource binding models, where an application binds individual buffers and textures to certain shader or program resource binding slots. Direct3D12 uses a very different approach, where resource descriptors are grouped into tables, and an application can bind all resources in the table at once by setting the table in the command list. Resource binding model in Diligent Engine is designed to leverage this new method. It introduces a new object called shader resource binding that encapsulates all resource bindings required for all shaders in a certain pipeline state. It also introduces the classification of shader variables based on the frequency of expected change that helps the engine group them into tables under the hood:
      Static variables (SHADER_VARIABLE_TYPE_STATIC) are variables that are expected to be set only once. They may not be changed once a resource is bound to the variable. Such variables are intended to hold global constants such as camera attributes or global light attributes constant buffers. Mutable variables (SHADER_VARIABLE_TYPE_MUTABLE) define resources that are expected to change on a per-material frequency. Examples may include diffuse textures, normal maps etc. Dynamic variables (SHADER_VARIABLE_TYPE_DYNAMIC) are expected to change frequently and randomly. Shader variable type must be specified during shader creation by populating an array of ShaderVariableDesc structures and initializing ShaderCreationAttribs::Desc::VariableDesc and ShaderCreationAttribs::Desc::NumVariables members (see example of shader creation above).
      Static variables cannot be changed once a resource is bound to the variable. They are bound directly to the shader object. For instance, a shadow map texture is not expected to change after it is created, so it can be bound directly to the shader:
      PixelShader->GetShaderVariable( "g_tex2DShadowMap" )->Set( pShadowMapSRV ); Mutable and dynamic variables are bound via a new Shader Resource Binding object (SRB) that is created by the pipeline state (IPipelineState::CreateShaderResourceBinding()):
      m_pPSO->CreateShaderResourceBinding(&m_pSRB); Note that an SRB is only compatible with the pipeline state it was created from. SRB object inherits all static bindings from shaders in the pipeline, but is not allowed to change them.
      Mutable resources can only be set once for every instance of a shader resource binding. Such resources are intended to define specific material properties. For instance, a diffuse texture for a specific material is not expected to change once the material is defined and can be set right after the SRB object has been created:
      m_pSRB->GetVariable(SHADER_TYPE_PIXEL, "tex2DDiffuse")->Set(pDiffuseTexSRV); In some cases it is necessary to bind a new resource to a variable every time a draw command is invoked. Such variables should be labeled as dynamic, which will allow setting them multiple times through the same SRB object:
      m_pSRB->GetVariable(SHADER_TYPE_VERTEX, "cbRandomAttribs")->Set(pRandomAttrsCB); Under the hood, the engine pre-allocates descriptor tables for static and mutable resources when an SRB objcet is created. Space for dynamic resources is dynamically allocated at run time. Static and mutable resources are thus more efficient and should be used whenever possible.
      As you can see, Diligent Engine does not expose low-level details of how resources are bound to shader variables. One reason for this is that these details are very different for various APIs. The other reason is that using low-level binding methods is extremely error-prone: it is very easy to forget to bind some resource, or bind incorrect resource such as bind a buffer to the variable that is in fact a texture, especially during shader development when everything changes fast. Diligent Engine instead relies on shader reflection system to automatically query the list of all shader variables. Grouping variables based on three types mentioned above allows the engine to create optimized layout and take heavy lifting of matching resources to API-specific resource location, register or descriptor in the table.
      This post gives more details about the resource binding model in Diligent Engine.
      Setting the Pipeline State and Committing Shader Resources
      Before any draw or compute command can be invoked, the pipeline state needs to be bound to the context:
      m_pContext->SetPipelineState(m_pPSO); Under the hood, the engine sets the internal PSO object in the command list or calls all the required native API functions to properly configure all pipeline stages.
      The next step is to bind all required shader resources to the GPU pipeline, which is accomplished by IDeviceContext::CommitShaderResources() method:
      m_pContext->CommitShaderResources(m_pSRB, COMMIT_SHADER_RESOURCES_FLAG_TRANSITION_RESOURCES); The method takes a pointer to the shader resource binding object and makes all resources the object holds available for the shaders. In the case of D3D12, this only requires setting appropriate descriptor tables in the command list. For older APIs, this typically requires setting all resources individually.
      Next-generation APIs require the application to track the state of every resource and explicitly inform the system about all state transitions. For instance, if a texture was used as render target before, while the next draw command is going to use it as shader resource, a transition barrier needs to be executed. Diligent Engine does the heavy lifting of state tracking.  When CommitShaderResources() method is called with COMMIT_SHADER_RESOURCES_FLAG_TRANSITION_RESOURCES flag, the engine commits and transitions resources to correct states at the same time. Note that transitioning resources does introduce some overhead. The engine tracks state of every resource and it will not issue the barrier if the state is already correct. But checking resource state is an overhead that can sometimes be avoided. The engine provides IDeviceContext::TransitionShaderResources() method that only transitions resources:
      m_pContext->TransitionShaderResources(m_pPSO, m_pSRB); In some scenarios it is more efficient to transition resources once and then only commit them.
      Invoking Draw Command
      The final step is to set states that are not part of the PSO, such as render targets, vertex and index buffers. Diligent Engine uses Direct3D11-syle API that is translated to other native API calls under the hood:
      ITextureView *pRTVs[] = {m_pRTV}; m_pContext->SetRenderTargets(_countof( pRTVs ), pRTVs, m_pDSV); // Clear render target and depth buffer const float zero[4] = {0, 0, 0, 0}; m_pContext->ClearRenderTarget(nullptr, zero); m_pContext->ClearDepthStencil(nullptr, CLEAR_DEPTH_FLAG, 1.f); // Set vertex and index buffers IBuffer *buffer[] = {m_pVertexBuffer}; Uint32 offsets[] = {0}; Uint32 strides[] = {sizeof(MyVertex)}; m_pContext->SetVertexBuffers(0, 1, buffer, strides, offsets, SET_VERTEX_BUFFERS_FLAG_RESET); m_pContext->SetIndexBuffer(m_pIndexBuffer, 0); Different native APIs use various set of function to execute draw commands depending on command details (if the command is indexed, instanced or both, what offsets in the source buffers are used etc.). For instance, there are 5 draw commands in Direct3D11 and more than 9 commands in OpenGL with something like glDrawElementsInstancedBaseVertexBaseInstance not uncommon. Diligent Engine hides all details with single IDeviceContext::Draw() method that takes takes DrawAttribs structure as an argument. The structure members define all attributes required to perform the command (primitive topology, number of vertices or indices, if draw call is indexed or not, if draw call is instanced or not, if draw call is indirect or not, etc.). For example:
      DrawAttribs attrs; attrs.IsIndexed = true; attrs.IndexType = VT_UINT16; attrs.NumIndices = 36; attrs.Topology = PRIMITIVE_TOPOLOGY_TRIANGLE_LIST; pContext->Draw(attrs); For compute commands, there is IDeviceContext::DispatchCompute() method that takes DispatchComputeAttribs structure that defines compute grid dimension.
      Source Code
      Full engine source code is available on GitHub and is free to use. The repository contains two samples, asteroids performance benchmark and example Unity project that uses Diligent Engine in native plugin.
      AntTweakBar sample is Diligent Engine’s “Hello World” example.

       
      Atmospheric scattering sample is a more advanced example. It demonstrates how Diligent Engine can be used to implement various rendering tasks: loading textures from files, using complex shaders, rendering to multiple render targets, using compute shaders and unordered access views, etc.

      Asteroids performance benchmark is based on this demo developed by Intel. It renders 50,000 unique textured asteroids and allows comparing performance of Direct3D11 and Direct3D12 implementations. Every asteroid is a combination of one of 1000 unique meshes and one of 10 unique textures.

      Finally, there is an example project that shows how Diligent Engine can be integrated with Unity.

      Future Work
      The engine is under active development. It currently supports Windows desktop, Universal Windows and Android platforms. Direct3D11, Direct3D12, OpenGL/GLES backends are now feature complete. Vulkan backend is coming next, and support for more platforms is planned.
    • By michaeldodis
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      I'd really love to hear anyone's thoughts on this, any suggestions on what features you'd want to see in a library like this? 
      Thanks in advance!
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