Khronos Group to Incorporate OpenGL ES into New Draft Spec

The group responsible for enticing game developers to build their 3D assets in a new way so they can later port them to cell phones is taking the next step this week toward the development of a single, cross-platform API geared toward the creation of rich graphical applications, for displays so small that "rich" would seem impossible.

If it works as theorized, the new OpenKODE set of APIs from Khronos Group - which last year took on the caretaker role of the OpenGL ES 3D rendering API for small devices - could make it even more feasible for developers writing games and, if you can imagine this, applications for Sony's PlayStation 3, to rapidly develop small-display versions that run in a Linux-, Symbian-, or Windows Mobile-based cell phone.

Graphics industry giants nVidia and ATI are both members of Khronos Group, as is Sony Computer Entertainment, which announced a wide-ranging collaboration agreement with Khronos in August 2005. Sony's involvement has been seen as an investment in the active development of a new kind of cross-PlayStation platform, that could bridge the assets of PS3 with whatever the company may have in mind for its next-generation PlayStation Portable. PS3 games are already written to support OpenGL ES.

The OpenKODE 1.0 specification, the first draft of which was released today for public inspection and comment, would combine the existing OpenGL ES API with the OpenVG 2D vector graphics API, for a single component.

Future versions may integrate the OpenSL API for streaming media, and OpenMAX which addresses cross-platform support for media playback functionality.

The objective is to enable the small device industry to embed standardized functionality into the core of their products, in such a way that they could still look and feel unique, and yet run software not geared specifically for those devices in such a way that only minimal or no changes are necessary.

Imagine for a moment a new market segment for portable games, marketed just like PSP discs or perhaps downloaded through a centralized service, but which can run on any of multiple brands. Suddenly, handsets from Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson, and Samsung (all of whom are Khronos Group members) could be seen as equal partners in a single portable gaming platform. And if the next generation of Sony consoles also count as part of that platform, manufacturers joining the platform may get an automatic marketing boost (Microsoft is most notably not a member of Khronos Group.)

Some of the first consumer devices to support OpenKODE will be shown early next March, at the Game Developers' Conference in San Francisco.

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