Vulkan specification complete, release imminent

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Great news! The Khronos Vulkan Working Group just announced that the specification is complete (and has entered the legal review process) and the release is imminent.

Though the initial time frame of 2015 was missed (by a bit), this should mean that Vulkan will be ready for launch in early 2016. This will include SDKs for all supported platforms, production ready drivers from several IHV, resources, tools, demos, examples and much more.

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Vulkan related works

 

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vulkan

In case you don’t follow me on twitter or aren’t watching my github repositories, I’ve been working on Vulkan related stuff over the last few months. And with Vulkan’s release approaching it’s time for a short summary on what I plan on release upon or shortly after launch of the new graphics and compute API.

Vulkan Hardware Capability Viewer

As with OpenGL and OpenGL ES I’ll also do a Vulkan Hardware Capability viewer (github). It looks (and works) pretty much like the OpenGL hardware capability viewer, also using Qt for the user interface. I plan on release it close to the launch of Vulkan with support for Windows and Linux, while Android support will follow at some later point.

It’ll also come along with an online database, accessible through gpuinfo.org, allowing you to browse devices, features, extensions, etc.

Examples and demos

Learning a new graphics (and compute) API is never easy, especially if you’re just a hobbyist and even more for an explicit API like Vulkan that greatly differs from OpenGL. But even for someone not working full time on some rendering engines  it’s not that hard to learn.

To get you started with Vulkan, and to share what I’ve learned while working with Vulkan I’ll have several open source examples ready for launch. They range from the most basic things (rendering a colored triangle) to more complex things like multi pass offscreen rendering, tessellation and compute shaders.

The examples are written in C++ and should work on Windows and Linux with Android support to follow. The github repository can be found here, though it only contains a listing of the examples with descriptions and screenshots right now. Sources will follow when Vulkan goes public.

Contributing to the Khronos Vulkan resource pages

The Khronos group recently open sourced their web pages, including those for their APIs. Every API now also has a resource page with links to tutorials, SDKs, tools, source, etc. The Vulkan one is pretty sparse right now, so if you know of any interesting links related to Vulkan, feel free to contribute to their repository.

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Introducing gpuinfo.org

gpuinfoAside from playing around with a certain new API, I’ve also been working on the web front end OpenGL and OpenGL ES hardware database.

Though I redid the visual side of both some time ago they differed too much for my taste and especially the OpenGL ES database was lacking lots compared to the OpenGL one. No live search, bad visuals (especially for the reports), lacking compare features and much more.

So I did put lots of work in getting both database up to the same standards, optimize the visual presentation and also created a landing page at www.gpuinfo.org, that is home to the current hardware databases (OpenGL, OpenGL ES), with at least one new database (Vulkan) coming in the near future.

The OpenGL database is now available at opengl.gpuinfo.org. New features include a list of maximum supported OpenGL version by device and listing of compressed texture formats for comparing multiple reports.

The OpenGL ES database is located at opengles.gpuinfo.org. Aside from the complete visual overhaul, it now offers (mostly) the same functionality as the OpenGL database. All tables now support a live search (thanks to datatables), report information is now presented in tabs and the launch page has been replaced by a report listing like the one on the OpenGL database.

Source for all the pages (including gpuinfo.org) are available at my github repository, so if you find any bugs feel free to report them there.

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Vulkan from the POV of a hobby 3D developer

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As there have been lots of new information on Vulkan, Khronos‘ new graphics and compute API I decided to do a little write up of the new API from a hobby 3D developer’s point of view.

Although I’ve been writing games, demos and applications with OpenGL for roughly 15 years now I still consider myself a hobby developer in terms of 3D graphics. My job is not depending on pushing pixels, maxing out draw calls or swizzling shader commands, and most of my work on 3D (primarily OpenGL) is done during my spare time (mostly late at night).

vulkanScene

During this years SIGGRAPH and GamesCom, Khronos showed off some stuff related to Vulkan (LunarG e.g. uploaded a video of LunarXChange, the developer platform for Vulkan) and several IHVs (e.g. PowerVR) and ISVs demoed applications and implementations.

And while it’s still a way to go before Vulkan is released to the public (should be by the end of the years) I’d like to write down a few words on the new API for hobby (OpenGL) developers that may be uncertain on whether to switch or not, or even on what Vulkan actually is.

 

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Status update

Just as the last blog post is starting to collect dust (time flies by oO) :

I’m still doing lots of 3D development during the late hours in my spare time, still with C++ (Visual Studio rocks :) ), but most of that development is done under an NDA so that’s the main reason I haven’t been updating this blog lately.

Other than that I’ve also been working on a dungeon crawler prototype using modern C++ (C++11/14) and modern OpenGL (4.4). Not much to see yet, but the first screenshot shows the latest version with omni-directional shadow maps, randomly generated dungeons, normal mapping and 3D models (using ASSIMP). I’d also like to mention G-Truc‘s excellent glm and gli libraries that I’m both using in this (and other projects).
I’ve been playing around with randomly generated dungeons a few times in the past but never got much further than some simple tech demos, so this may never become a game but rather a playground, though it already looks pretty nice.

2015-07-07 22_46_38-Dungeon Crawler Prototype - (c) 2015 by Sascha Willems 2015-06-17 21_48_05-Dungeon Crawler Prototype - (c) 2015 by Sascha Willems 2015-06-12 23_29_57-Dungeon Crawler Prototype - (c) 2015 by Sascha Willems 2015-06-05 23_07_32-Dungeon Crawler Prototype - (c) 2015 by Sascha Willems

 

So right now there’s not much new stuff on OpenGL (ES) or WebGL, but you may check out my twitter account for screenshot and ramblings on my current 3D endeavors without me getting into details. Most of the stuff I post there is not worthy of a complete blog post, so for quick updates, twitter pretty much replaced my blog.

 

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Parallax offset mapping with WebGL

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Years ago I wrote a demo showcasing different normal mapping techniques with Delphi, but never got around cleaning up the source and releasing it. While working on my WebGL dungeon crawler prototype I dug out the old code, cleaned it up and ported it over to WebGL, so you don’t need a compiler to see it in action and play around with it.

Parallax mapping uses an additional heightmap (together with a normal map) to add more depth to flat surfaces depending on the current camera angle. It’s currently lacking shadowing, but that’s something I might add in the future.

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(Left : Normal mapping , right : Parallax offset mapping)

You can get the sources from my GitHub repository : https://github.com/SaschaWillems/webgl/tree/master/parallaxmapping

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Geometry instancing with WebGL 2

webgl-logoWebGL, based on OpenGL ES, brings hardware accelerated OpenGL to your browser, and version 2.0 is around the corner (specs). I’ve been playing around with WebGL (via JavaScript) for some time now (see my GitHub WebGL repo) and recently Google’s chrome (canary) got WebGL 2 support.

WebGL 2.0 adds some interesting new features, with geometry instancing being one of them, so I sat down and wrote a small demo that shows how to render the same instance of a single mesh with differing shader attributes using instancing and only one drawcall :

gl.bindBuffer(gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, buffer with offsets);
gl.vertexAttribPointer(offset attrib location in shader, 3, gl.FLOAT, false, 12, 0);
gl.vertexAttribDivisor(offset attrib location in shader, 1);
...
gl.drawArraysInstanced(gl.TRIANGLE_STRIP, 0, number of vertices to render, number of instances to render);

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glCapsViewer 1.0 beta release

I just released version 1.0 (beta) of the OpenGL hardware capability viewer (C++ port using Qt). Note that it’s a beta release and my first C++ (and Qt) application released to the public.

Release on gitHub: https://github.com/SaschaWillems/glCapsViewer/releases/tag/v1.0-beta

Binary downloads (win32) :

https://github.com/SaschaWillems/glCapsViewer/releases/download/v1.0-beta/glcapsviewer_v1_0-beta_win32.7z

or

http://opengl.delphigl.de/releases/glcapsviewer_v1_0-beta_win32.7z

If you find any bugs, please post them in the comment section or (better) open an issue at the github repository.

Right now windows only, other platforms (linux first) will follow as soon as I’ve moved the project to CMake.

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New features and url for the OpenGL hardware database

opengl-logoIn preparation for the release of the next glCapsViewer version (C++), the OpenGL hardware database has been completely overhauled and also got a new url for easier access.

After releasing the sources to the php front end of the database, I decided to clean up the sources for all pages, throw out old (bad) code and add in new features using external libraries like DataTables.

The OpenGL hardware database was my first php based web project, so much of the code wasn’t very pretty, and almost all search and filter functions were hard coded and not available everywhere and for all table columns. Not only did that make it hard to add new stuff, but it also gave a very inconsistent end-user experience.

The new version of the database now uses DataTables on all pages, including a live search, so that you can now easily search for data on every page among every column. Same goes for sorting, as all columns are now sortable, instead of just a few that were hard coded in the old version.

In addition to the new search functionality, the visuals are now based on jQueryUI and BootStrap, giving an easier look on the eye and also adding some convenient features, like having report information in separate tabs for easier navigation. Combined with live search, this should make the database a lot more fun to use.

The database now also has a real url (http://opengl.delphigl.de), instead of the old redirection, making up for much shorter urls than before, e.g. : http://opengl.delphigl.de/gl_generatereport.php?reportID=679

Feedback so far has been positive, and I also received some feature requests that I’ll ad in the future. So if you want to see a new feature, or see something that could be improved, just drop me a line or message me on twitter.

 

 

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