OpenGL 3 & DirectX 11: The War Is Over

Tom's Hardware: "Given the prevalence of DirectX nowadays, we tend to forget that 10 years ago an all-out war was being waged between Microsoft and Silicon Graphics in the field of 3D APIs. The two companies were both trying to win over developers, with Microsoft using its financial muscle and SGI relying on its experience and its reputation in the field of real-time 3D. In this modern David-versus-Goliath battle, the "little guy" won a precious ally in one of the most famous game developers–-Mr. John Carmack. In part due to the success of the Quake engine, solid support for OpenGL became important enough to motivate makers of 3D cards to provide complete drivers. In fact, it gave 3dfx one of its early advantages and knocked ATI to the back of the pack as it struggled with its OpenGL support.

Meanwhile, Microsoft was starting from scratch, and the learning curve was steep. So, for several years, Direct3D's capabilities were beyond the curve, with an interface that many programmers found a lot more confusing than OpenGL's. But nobody can accuse Microsoft of being easily discouraged. With each new version of Direct3D, it gradually began to catch up with OpenGL. The engineers in Redmond worked very hard to bring performance up to its rival API's level.

A turning point was reached with DirectX 8, released in 2001. For the first time, Microsoft's API did more than just copy from SGI. It actually introduced innovations of its own like support for vertex and pixel shaders. SGI, whose main source of revenue was the sale of expensive 3D workstations, was in a bad position, having failed to foresee that the explosion of 3D cards for gamers would prompt ATI and Nvidia to move into the professional market with prices so low (due to economies of scale) that SGI couldn't keep up. OpenGL's development was also handicapped by bitter disputes among its proponents. Since the ARB-the group in charge of ratifying the API's development-included many different, competing companies, it was hard to reach agreement on the features to be added to the API. Instead, each company promoted its own agenda. Conversely, Microsoft was working solely with ATI and Nvidia, using its weight to cast a deciding vote if there was disagreement.

With DirectX 9, Microsoft managed to strike a decisive victory, imposing its API on developers. Only John Carmack and those who insisted on portability remained faithful to OpenGL. But their ranks dwindled. And yet a reversal of fortunes was still possible. It had happened with Web browsers, after all. Even when a company has maneuvered itself into a near monopoly, if it rests on its laurels, it's not all that rare for a competitor to rise from his ashes. So when the Khronos group took over OpenGL two years ago, many hopes were rekindled with all eyes on the upcoming SIGGRAPH conference that year.

Last month, Khronos was to have announced OpenGL 3, a major revision of the API that's supposed to catch up with Microsoft, which was also scheduled to launch its next-gen DirectX 11 API. But things didn't really go as planned."

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DJ3415d ago (Edited 3415d ago )

"And since both HD consoles on the market use a DirectX 9 GPU, developers have all the motivation they need to stick with the previous MS API."

PS3 uses OpenGL ES 2.0, which basically has all the auto-cad functionality stripped out. The big advantages that OpenGL has over DirectX are a smaller system footprint, and much faster speed. The 3D modeling/rendering program I use, for instance, strictly uses OpenGL because of how fast it is.

In case you're wondering, I use Lightwave.

Bladestar3415d ago

mmm... DJ bashing a microsoft technology.... mmmm how strange...
anyways... don't take it too hard DJ... practically there is only to major API out there... DirectX and OpenGL.... would you want only to be 1? how will that benefit anyone (including OpenGL users)? It's good that developers and company have options... some developers use both in many of their projects... if you were a programmer (as I am) you would actually admit that both API are extremely great and capable of allowing developers great things... and though there are some areas where OpenGl may be better the same goes for DirectX...

One of the areas where DirectX exceeds OpenGL is in features... the API supports a lot more functionality when it comes to sound, Networking, User input, etc... these features are managed and integrated in directx.. in many cases they work together... OpenGL is another story... for the most part a developer have to find other libraries to do non-graphic related stuff... hense why "smaller system footprint"...

For a program like Lightwave (graphics) I can see how smaller system footprint can benefit... but directx API OO approach allows huge projects to be manageable, code to be more reusable and easy to port to other platforms as long as they support .net languages...

JOLLY13415d ago

and Direct X is the best for that program (and all Autodesk programs) Also Nvidia's professional drivers work best with Direct X. I could use open gl 2.1, but it is nowhere as efficient as open gl. That is unfortunate that lightwave uses open gl. Sorry your program uses such dated drivers.

Charmers3415d ago

I think the author of that story was stating both GPU's are Directx 9 era gpu's ie neither is a directx 10 gpu. He was not specifically saying that the PS3 uses directx9 but it does use a directx9 era GPU just like the 360 does.

uie4rhig3415d ago

the point of an graphics API is graphics capabilities.. not non-graphics related capabilities.. tbh, if it makes Dx run faster, i think that MS should remove everything from the Dx API that isn't related to graphics.. i'd rather play better graphics and smoother gameplay on the same system spec rather than having to upgrade to a new system..

so i guess if it makes Dx faster they should remove the non-graphics related and release seperately.. instead of build in to Dx.. altho as far as i know, Dx is easier to use than openGL.. but openGL is faster, (same goes for for Linux and Windows, just in windows/linux its more than that)

DJ3415d ago (Edited 3415d ago )

But yes, DirectX does offer some nice non-graphical related support, and it is a lot easier to dive into. OpenGL isn't simply because it's 'closer to the metal', thus the greater performance. I know Bladestar is trying to make it seem like DirectX would be equal if it didn't have the user-friendly aspects, but that's simply not the case. I worry about performance more than anything.

As for Jolly, Lightwave 9.5 isn't outdated in any respect. The OpenGL simply allows for real-time previewing of render-intensive options like Depth of Field. Normally, I would use Fprime, but lately the native functions are proving to be a lot more accurate and faster. Newtek just needs to beef up the animation side, 'cause Maya has it slammed down in that respect, though it is improving.

JOLLY13415d ago

It is unfortunate that lightwave hasn't upgraded their software to use DX10. Everything that you mentioned that lightwave can do, is something that MAX does also, but Max is more widely used in all industries. Maybe that is why lightwave isn't an industry leader, it is based on old technology.

Statix3415d ago (Edited 3415d ago )

Stop insulting the guy, and "feeling sorry and sad for him," just because you want to take a veiled swipe at the PS3's API and hardware.

DJ3415d ago

But the fact that a new team was brought in definitely improved the program. Users still have the option of using the core tech, but the advanced tech is what pretty much every Lightwave user chooses. The difference between version 8 and version 9 is insane.

And yes, Lightwave is an industry standard, but for modeling. A lot more people/companies are also using it for rendering, since the render engine is the fastest on the market. But again, I like being open-minded about these products, Jolly, and that's why people like you and me typically use several products within our pipelines.

Ju3415d ago

Its just an API. But one thing, though. Dx is a proprietary IP from MS, and MS alone. No embedded system which does not run a windows derivative will ever support DirectX. Not much of an alternative out there. OpenGL (ES) only. And I am not sure if it matters much. You can simply encapsulate the low level API and make sure you get access to the shaders. The rest is done within your code any way.

uie4rhig3415d ago

i highly doubt its as expensive as 3Ds MAX.. MAX is used by developers (MOST developers).. its used in most games and all.. but i mean i don't really care if my program supports multiple API's or just one.. as long as i can use it without problems, so if i can't run openGL.. obv my choice wud be 3D's max, but if i don't need much features that 3Ds MAX has, and my pc can run openGL.. then obv lightwave would be my option, since its cheaper...
so everyone their own favo program.. and me, im a blender guy, easy and all.. when i get more advanced (im still quite noob in 3d programs :P ) i'll (most likely) be stepping over to 3D's max..


+ Show (7) more repliesLast reply 3415d ago
GameDev3415d ago

the RSX is a direct x GPU?? oh really? wanna ask Sony or Nvidia about that?

secondly I don't care how good of an API direct x is, it's still tied to that pig called windows. That alone dooms it to failure in the coming years.

Pain3415d ago (Edited 3415d ago )

Open GL is SMOOTHH and crisp. HELLO APPLE OSX.....

DX is a PILE of Crap Clippy jiggy M$ clanky twichy PC Ram hog just cant stand it crap. *cough Vista*

English translation. Open Gl is in PS3 and Apple's stuff (think wii too) hence why it works good. and why ports to PS suck. and no Apple gaming...yet..

DX is M$'s way of Controlling the PC game market by making u use there Coding and More or less and the main reason PC/Xbox games have that Twitchy ness / Clip like effect to them.

hence why i say Console's >>> PC gaming.

Untill Devs stop using DX there will still be Crappyness.

Shroomy3415d ago (Edited 3415d ago )

Losing money like in respected markets like mad these days.

Pain, until idiots like you cease to exist, condoms will go down in price until they are free, which is a good thing for some. so gg *apple/sony fanboy, the worst combination*

Are you gonna say Hi, I'm a Mac? lol

Fishy Fingers3415d ago (Edited 3415d ago )

Good read (although I remember about 15% of it >_<). Nice post Syko. Cheers.

Disagree with me thanking the contributor for posting a story YOU clicked on? N4G all over...

mirroredderorrim3415d ago

Didn't Epic's Mark Rein say something to the contrast of how The API will become obsolete?

In any case, it's good to see OpenGL come up on Direct X.

DJ3415d ago

And he's probably right.

Fishy Fingers3415d ago (Edited 3415d ago )

Wasn't he also referring to future tech of a single chip solution like Larrabee?

We're talking years.

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