Hardware accelerated 3D graphics approachingBy Chris Williams. Published: 5th Jul 2005, 12:00:38 | Permalink | Printable
Coming "soon" to an Iyonix near you [Updated]Hardware accelerated 3D graphics on RISC OS took a step closer to reality, thanks to Simon Wilson. Simon, who authored PCITV, claims to have ported Mesa 3.2, a 3D graphics library that sports an OpenGL software interface. More importantly, he says he has also ported an Nvidia graphics accelerator from BeOS to harness the GeForce2 video card in the Iyonix to plot graphics fast in hardware.
The software is, according to Simon, in a "pre-alpha" stage and will eventually release the software under the GPL. A previous port of Mesa performed its graphics operations in software and was ultimately, painfully slow. Graphics drawn by the dedicated Nvidia chipset are expected to be lighting fast in comparison.
He said: "The first image rendered was the classic OpenGL teapot. The driver is capable of double-buffering, texturing (including mip-mapping), lighting and shading, all in hardware. It also provides a number of 2D functions such as sprite cacheing and plotting, which may be provided as a library for 2D games."
Downloads and source code are said to appear on a website "soon". We also understand that the developer of Geminus is considering adding 2D hardware acceleration to his RISC OS 5 display driver.
Update at 15:21 5/7/2005
Simon tells us that a demo application of the new software is a few days away, whereas the driver is a possibly two to three weeks away.
On the subject of speed and benchmarks, Simon explained, "I have not yet had time to perform and speed measurements. The driver is capable of around 120fps in 1024 x 768 x 32bpp with the OpenGL teapot on x86 hardware, but we don't have floating point hardware on the Iyonix, and Mesa makes heavy use of floating point for transformations.
"The first phase will be to speed up the driver as it currently stands, and then to move to fixed point. The move to fixed point (as opposed to floating point) will likely be a moderate task, but hopefully I can gather some help."
He added: "Well-written games could certainly hold off on converting to floating point till the last minute and perhaps use a table lookup. Sending vertices to the graphics card in floating point is not much different to sending them in fixed point (they both typically use 4 bytes per coordinate)."
He is also willing to put the software under the LGPL licence until there is "proper ELF support in RISC OS". Whilst Simon would like the driver to be free software, he says he will not require games built with the library to be forced to follow the GPL.
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