G+: Went along to a day of SIGGRAPH with …

David Coles
Went along to a day of SIGGRAPH with +Roderick Colenbrander on Wednesday. Really worth the trip up to LA, got to see some interesting talks, buy a few discount books and have a nice meal in downtown LA.

Located clsoe by the convention center, Khronos was running a number of "birds of a feather" sessions and their "20 years of OpenGL" celebrations. Full of lots of interesting talks on WebGL, OpenGL ES 3.0 and OpenGL 4.3, but I think the highlight was getting a chance to hear about and talk to some of the Valve developers working on porting L4D2 to Linux.

+Rich Geldreich gave an very interesting talk on exactly how they approached the problem of getting top-notch graphics performance with OpenGL on Linux and some of the tools they used/built to achieve this. One of the most interesting points was that rather than directly targeting OpenGL, Valve has chosen to build a translation layer from DirectX 9 to OpenGL (similar to what you see in Wine or VirtualBox's 3D support). And if you think about the size of Valve's code base; a generic translation layer is far more valuable than porting a single game to OpenGL. I didn't get to ask how they were handling other system services such as input, audio and networking, but given the recent hire of SDL founder, Sam Lantinga, I think there's a good chance that SDL was (or will be) involved somehow. :)

I think the other very valuable point to take away from the session was just how useful good visual profiling tools are. Valve has instrumented all the hot-spot in their rendering engine using Telemetry (http://www.radgametools.com/telemetry.htm), so can easily run experiments and dig-down to find exactly where bottlenecks are occurring. Much nicer than digging through tables of numbers or making blind guesses - will certainly be investigating how we can do similar things with our media processing pipelines.

Sitting down and playing through a small section of Dead Center, you can see all this work pays off - it certainly looks and feels every bit as professional as the Windows release. Exciting times ahead for Linux gamers!

SIGGRAPH Los Angeles 2012 - Khronos Group Events, Seminars and Presentations

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