OpenGL ES 3.1 Brings GPU Computing, New 3D Graphics Features To Mobile

The Khronos Group, a consortium that includes major media-centric companies like ATI, Intel, NVIDIA and SGI, will release the latest version of the OpenGL ES specs at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco today.

This may sounds like pretty esoteric news, but these specs define the kind of graphics capabilities you will soon see in your favorite mobile apps. All the major mobile phone platforms — with the exception of Windows Phone — support the OpenGL ES to give developers access to their platforms graphics capabilities.

Because it’s optimized for mobile, where GPUs don’t quite have the same power as on the desktop, the mobile specs are usually a few steps behind, though today’s release closes the gap considerably.  “OpenGL ES 3.1 provides the most desired features of desktop OpenGL 4.4 in a form suitable for mobile devices,” said Tom Olson, chair of the OpenGL ES working group and Director of Graphics Research at ARM in a statement today.

As part of the updated specs, applications will be able to use the GPU to perform general computing tasks, coupled tightly with graphics rendering, for example. That’s something many desktop apps already do, and which could be used to make apps on mobile phones run smoother.

Other improvements include support for separate shader objects and multisample and stencil textures, as well as shading language improvements and new optional extensions for things like per-sample shading, new blending modes and more. You can find all the details here.

“The OpenGL family of APIs including OpenGL ES, OpenGL and WebGL have proven themselves as the foundation for 3D graphics on mobile devices, PCs and the Web – this OpenGL ES release is yet another graphical milestone that will enable users to experience new levels of realism and interactivity on pervasive, mainstream devices,” said Neil Trevett, president of the Khronos Group and vice president of mobile ecosystem at NVIDIA in a statement today.

Later this week, the Khronos Group is scheduled to make a number of additional announcements around its specs at the Game Developer’s Conference, too.