25/02/2013 February 2013 OpenGL status

The tested drivers this month are AMD Catalyst 13.2 beta 6, Intel 9.18.10.2973 and NVIDIA Forceware 314.07 beta. No newer drivers for Intel, I just kept using last month one.

Once again the new Intel drivers seem to be coming from a leak so there are probably unreliable but the OpenGL drivers is the most rescent available. The detailled OpenGL drivers status and OpenGL extensions matrix are available for download.

First Apple OpenGL implementation status

The MacOS X platform is becoming a more and more relevant platform to support by our OpenGL program. For this reason, I have been long looking forward to see this first Apple OpenGL implementation status coming but thanks to the OpenGL Samples Pack 4.3.2 branch this is now possible.

Apple implementation is far behind AMD, Intel and NVIDIA implementations in term of feature set as it only claims OpenGL 3.2 core profile support. Sadly, even the drivers quality is particularly poor as the February OpenGL drivers status shows that only 61% of the samples run successfully on Apple OpenGL 3.2 implementation against 95% for Intel and NVIDIA implementations or 89% for AMD implementations, far behind everyone else once against.

IHVs only provides "low level" drivers so that effectivement Apple writes most of the implementation. It is very unfortunate that Apple doesn't let IHVs write the OpenGL drivers. Even if there isn't an existing perfect OpenGL implementation, supporting another platform for IHVs is mostly a matter of reusing the existing OpenGL drivers source code. Both AMD and NVIDIA share the same tree for Linux and Windows. For Intel, the situation is different because Linux OpenGL implementation (OpenGL 3.0) is based on Mesa and open source but Windows implementation (OpenGL 4.0) is closed source. We could easily imagine Intel reusing their Windows implementation for MacOS X.

Few days ago I saw a petition for OpenGL 4.3 on MacOS X. Please sign it! But then don't believe one second that Apple will write an OpenGL 4.3 implementation for the next version of MacOS X or even the next one. Writing an OpenGL drivers is really hard and cost a lot of money in term hours of development. The only possible way for OpenGL 4.3 on MacOS X to happen is that Apple let IHVs provide OpenGL drivers for MacOS X... Sounds challenging for Apple and this is too bad because I really enjoy my MacBook

A lot of bugs fixed for Intel OpenGL implementation

The first OpenGL status I made in December for Intel wasn't particularly flattering however it is clear to me that Intel is working really hard to provide a better implementation and this is paying of. On the OpenGL 4.0 feature set, Intel implementation now runs the highest number of samples successfully.

I was hoping to provide a status for Intel Linux implementation. Unfortunately, even if the feature set is particularly advanced, ARB_texture_multisample isn't supported so that we can't create an OpenGL 3.2 core context with Mesa and we must rely on OpenGL extensions. It's not such a big deal but it remains quite some works to be done on the OpenGL Samples Pack Let's hope the work on this extension get completed soon and I will be pleased to include an OpenGL drivers status for Intel Linux implementation in this report.

About AMD drivers release frequency

AMD announced that they would release less drivers and it can seem that this is not really the case. In practice, it's the number of stable release which is reduced to about 4 per year instead of 12 per year. However there are still beta drivers regularly (monthly?), so that developers can get fixes quickly. I think this strategy build a pretty robust ecosystem with fewer stable drivers largely used to somehow support by the programs.

Once again, don't forget to contribute to the OpenGL community by reporting your bugs!

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