3D Commerce Initiative Becomes Khronos Working Group. Launched as a Khronos Exploratory Group in April 2019, 3D Commerce is now an official Working Group under Khronos governance, created to align the industry for streamlined, consistent 3D content creation and consumption. The Exploratory Group included more than 70 industry-leading companies
—from retailers to technology vendors to manufacturers
—working together to build industry consensus on what standardization activities are most urgently required for ubiquitous 3D Commerce.
3D content is poised to become pervasive in retail. Virtual representations of products will be everywhere (e.g., ads, search results, etc.), in addition to 3D retail experiences being available on multiple devices. Although 3D is a powerful merchandising tool, the challenge today is that not all 3D content can be experienced consistently across platforms and devices, making both the production and consumption of 3D virtual products siloed, expensive, and, ultimately, tough to scale.
The 3D Commerce Working Group brings together companies involved with all facets of the industry—from production to distribution to consumption of 3D content
—to create the necessary open standards and guidelines to streamline content creation, create alignment between retailers and content creators, and make experiencing 3D virtual products consistent no matter where and how they are viewed.
Any company is welcome to join Khronos and participate in the Working Group and be a part of this global initiative to help accelerate 3D in commerce.
WebGL Releases High-Impact Extensions and Ecosystem Developments. Already supported by all the major browsers and utilized across numerous professional CAD and 3D apps on the Web, WebGL now delivers new solutions for the most requested features from the developer community. As a part of these updates, WebGL now exposes the KHR_parallel_shader_compile extension, which makes long shader compilation times completely asynchronous so they no longer block the WebGL application. Additionally, to solve the overhead of individual draw calls, WebGL now has draft multi-draw and instanced multi-draw extensions (both on track to be implemented and approved by all browser vendors), which provide better batching and significantly decrease CPU overhead for larger scenes. Additionally, RGTC (BC4 / BC5) and BPTC (BC6H / BC7) compressed texture extensions are community-approved and already available in some browsers.
In addition to these already available extensions, WebGL is accelerating real-time video processing via a prototype WEBGL_video_texture extension. Also, extensions exposing BaseVertex and BaseInstance functionality—both of which have been long standing developer requests
—are also now under development. Compute shader functionality is available in prototype form in the
WebGL 2.0 Compute draft specification
—thanks to tremendous contributions from Intel
—providing an easy way to develop compute shaders in GLSL on the web today. Public demonstrations are available, including details on how to enable prototype features with command-line flags, in Chrome Canary.
Finally, to further consolidate the robustness of the WebGL ecosystem, major browser vendors are putting significant ongoing efforts into WebGL 1.0 and 2.0 conformance test suites and testing.
glTF Universal Texture Extension Drafting Underway Using Binomial’s Basis Universal Texture Technology. Google and Binomial recently announced that they have partnered to release Binomial’s Basis Universal technology in the form of an open source texture compressor and high-performance transcoder. Basis enables JPG-sized textures that can be transcoded on-the-fly to natively support compressed GPU formats. The transcoder is available in C++ and WebAssembly code for handling ‘.basis’ format textures in native apps and websites.
In parallel, Binomial has contributed the Basis Universal technology to Khronos, and Binomial has been working with the 3D Formats Working Group to create a Universal Texture extension for glTF that packages textures that have been supercompressed with the Basis compressor into a robustly-specified KTX2 container. KTX2 supports streaming and full random-access MIP levels for consistent and reliable cross-vendor generation, validation, and usage of compressed texture assets.
Multiple engines are already shipping with prototype support for glTF Universal Textures, including Babylon, CesiumJS, three.js, and UX3D. These implementations will inform the final stages of development of the glTF Universal Texture extension, ensuring it effectively meets the needs of the industry.
glTF Tools Ecosystem Expands, Including Universal Texture Tools and glTF Import/Export in Blender 2.80. As the glTF ecosystem evolves, the 3D Formats Working Group is working to encourage and enable native glTF import and export on every widely used authoring tool. For example, Mozilla, Khronos, and the glTF community have collaborated to build a glTF 2.0 import and export capability in Blender 2.80. Blender is a free, cross-platform, open source 3D creation suite that supports modeling, rigging, simulation, animation, rendering, compositing, and motion tracking. Blender 2.80 can now import and export glTF 2.0, including mapping Blender's Principled BSDF Shader node maps to glTF's PBR materials, with the option for Draco-based glTF mesh compression on export.
To prepare for the arrival of glTF’s Universal Texture extension, Khronos is creating a number of open-sourced glTF Texture Tools, such as KTX tools—an open source library for creating, reading, compressing, and transcoding KTX textures and uploading them to OpenGL, Vulkan, and WebGL. This library includes: ‘toktx’ to create a KTX2 file from a set of .png images and ‘ktxsc’ to convert images in KTX2 file to supercompressed images using the Basis transcoder. In addition, Khronos is creating glTF texture tools for interactively generating textures, including those with image-based lighting.
For a deep dive into new Khronos glTF tools, such as Blender 2.80 glTF import/export, glTF Texture Tools, and the glTF Sample Viewer, be sure to join the upcoming Khronos webinar on October 22.
New Vulkan Extensions Ship; Vulkan Sees Increased Usage by CAD and Professional Authoring Tools. Adobe premiere Rush, Adobe’s first all-in-one, cross-device online video editing app, is shipping on Android using Vulkan, bringing professional-quality video editing to Android devices. The rendering engine includes several hundred thousand lines of OpenCL C code compiled to SPIR-V by the open source clspv compiler to run on Vulkan. The clspv compiler is driven by Google and significantly increases deployment flexibility for developers wishing to use OpenCL C kernel code with Vulkan run-times.
The Vulkan ecosystem is seeing increased interest from CAD and professional authoring tool developers who wish to leverage Vulkan’s lower CPU overhead for increased performance, especially with large models. The Vulkan Working Group has just released the new VK_EXT_line_rasterization extension to support OpenGL-class line rendering, and developers are using Vulkan/OpenGL interop to migrate Vulkan functionality into OpenGL applications, including ray tracing. Desktop independent hardware vendors are offering middleware to make it easier for the CAD community to develop with Vulkan, including AMD’s V-EZ library for Vulkan graphics development on Windows and Linux.
The Vulkan Working Group continues to develop new extensions based on developer feedback. Examples include: VK_KHR_imageless_framebuffer, which simplifies framebuffer creation, and VK_KHR_uniform_buffer_standard_layout, which allows use of std430 layout rules in uniform buffers, making it easier to use shaders imported from HLSL and modern versions of OpenGLwith Vulkan. All of the extensions mentioned above can be found on the Vulkan repository.
At SIGGRAPH, the Khronos Group will be hosting education sessions covering many of these Khronos standards, including Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) sessions spanning across two days of the event. Khronos will also host its annual SIGGRAPH Networking Reception.
Khronos BOF Sessions on glTF, WebGL, OpenXR, and Vulkan take place on Wednesday, July 31, in the Diamond Ballroom 7-10 at the JW Marriot LA Live near the convention center, including a Khronos Fast Forward session that gives a fast-paced overview of everything Khronos starting at 9AM, followed by a 3D CommerceBOF on Thursday, August 1 in Room 507 of the Convention Center. Attendees don’t need to register or have a badge to attend the Khronos BOF Day, but a SIGGRAPH badge is needed for the Thursday 3D Commerce session.
All SIGGRAPH attendees are invited to join Khronos for its annual networking reception to mingle and enjoy refreshments with Khronos presenters and fellow developers to discuss Khronos standards, tools, tips, demos, and trends. Sponsored by members NVIDIA, LunarG, and Cesium, the reception starts at 5:30PM on Wednesday, July 31 in the same ballroom as the BOFs.
Khronos will also be hosting a meeting to discuss the evolution of the 3D Formats Ecosystem at SIGGRAPH on Thursday, August 1. If you are interested in attending, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, company, and interest in Khronos 3D formats for an invitation. Spaces are limited.