When it comes to APIs, OpenGL® is something of a classic. According to the Khronos® Group, OpenGL® is the most widely adopted 2D and 3D graphics API. Since its launch in 1992 it has been used extensively by software developers for PCs and workstations to create high-performance, visually compelling graphics applications for markets such as CAD, content creation, entertainment, game development and virtual reality.

To date, Imagination GPUs have natively supported OpenGL® up until Release 3.3 as well as OpenGL® ES (the version of OpenGL® for embedded systems), Vulkan® (a cross-platform graphics API) and OpenCL™ (an API for parallel programming). However, thanks to the increasing performance of our top-end GPUs, especially with the likes of the DXT-72-2304, they present a competitive offering to the data centre and desktop (DCD) market. Indeed, we have multiple customers – including the likes of Innosilicon – choosing Imagination GPUs for the flexibility an IP solution, their scalability and their ability to offer up to 6 TFLOPS of compute.

To support our customers in the DCD market, Imagination is investing in its API coverage. This starts with the extension of our support of OpenGL® from version 3.3 to version 4.6 – the latest version of OpenGL®. The solution is Khronos conformant and available now following its release in DDK Rel.23.1. The video below demonstrates OpenGL® 4.6 content running on Imagination GPUs.

Support has been achieved by working alongside the open-source specialists at Collabora. Collabora’s Zink is a layered OpenGL® implementation, part of the open-source Mesa project, that allows OpenGL® 4.6 content to run on top of a native Vulkan driver. For Imagination GPUs, this is a win-win. While OpenGL® is now being used less frequently by developers who are preferring newer APIs such as Vulkan and DirectX, due to its previous popularity there are numerous legacy applications that wouldn’t work on Imagination hardware if we didn’t have driver-level support for its final version. Delivering support for OpenGL® 4.6 via our Vulkan drivers is as elegant solution that keeps our graphics stack simple.

This project has been one of a number of Imagination open-source projects. As a company we value the contribution that open-source technology offers to the ecosystem, enabling developers to excel at specific areas of differentiation rather than re-inventing the wheel each time. Our Open Source GPU Driver project is a unique approach to supporting silicon vendors, OEMs and graphics developers take control of the complete graphics software stack. Imagination GPUs are the perfect partner to RISC-V CPUs, the emergent open-source architecture – and our very own RISC-V CPU is another example of how Imagination is leveraging open source to bring a differentiated product to market in a brief amount of time. In turn, we are contributing back into the open-source community. Within RISC-V International, we sit on the Board of Directors and the Technical Steering Committee and we also take a leading role in a number of special interest groups.

With the release of DDK Rel.23.1, Imagination GPUs now support OpenGL® 4.6. Meanwhile we are continuing to develop our API support in line with our customers’ needs and will have further announcements coming in this area soon.

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