It's a great time to be alive if you're a fanatic about the particulars of various performance-boosting graphics APIs. AMD's Mantle is here, Microsoft's DirectX 12 is coming with Windows 10, and at GDC in early March we'll hear the first news about a successor to the open-source, cross-platform OpenGL API.
That's not necessarily huge news if you're using a Windows machine--unless this OpenGL successor is really special, most games will probably stick with DirectX 12 in a perpetual love/hate relationship. If you're a Mac or Linux gamer, however, the next-generation OpenGL is potentially a huge deal.
Further reading: DirectX 12 vs. Mantle: Comparing PC gaming's software-supercharged future
The hope here is not only for better performance out of this new API, but also more compatibility with DirectX. That would make it easier for developers to port their games from Windows to Linux and Macs, potentially increasing the viability of competing game platforms--you know, like Valve's fabled and as-yet-unreleased Steam Machines. Surprise! Valve is directly involved with the GDC panel where all this will all be announced: "glNext: The Future of High Performance Graphics (Presented by Valve)." Employees from EA, Unity, and Epic will also be on-hand for the reveal.
Here's the panel description, if you're curious:
"Join us for the unveiling of Khronos' glNext initiative, the upcoming cross-platform graphics API designed for modern programming techniques and processors. glNext will be the singular choice for developers who demand peak performance in their applications. We will present a technical breakdown of the API, advanced techniques and live demos of real-world applications running on glNext drivers and hardware."
That's all we know right now. There's no word when glNext will be available, what hardware it'll be compatible with, or if it'll reduce CPU bottlenecks as both DirectX 12 and Mantle do. We'll be on hand at the GDC panel in March though to bring you news and insights about this fledgling API as soon as we have them--as well as news about Valve's actual, physical Steam Machines, which will reputedly have a substantial presence at the convention. Fingers crossed!