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Name Strings
Pat Brown
Jon Leech
Rob Mace
Brian Paul
Dale Kirkland, NVIDIA (dkirkland 'at'
Copyright (c) 2004-2013 The Khronos Group Inc. Copyright terms at
Specification Update Policy
Khronos-approved extension specifications are updated in response to
issues and bugs prioritized by the Khronos OpenGL Working Group. For
extensions which have been promoted to a core Specification, fixes will
first appear in the latest version of that core Specification, and will
eventually be backported to the extension document. This policy is
described in more detail at
Complete. Approved by the ARB on October 22, 2004.
Last Modified Date: October 1, 2004
Version: 6
ARB Extension #40
This extension is written against the OpenGL 2.0 Specification
but will work with the OpenGL 1.5 Specification.
Based on the NV_half_float extension.
This extension interacts with ARB_color_buffer_float.
This extension introduces a new data type for half-precision (16-bit)
floating-point quantities. The floating-point format is very similar
to the IEEE single-precision floating-point standard, except that it
has only 5 exponent bits and 10 mantissa bits. Half-precision floats
are smaller than full precision floats and provide a larger dynamic
range than similarly sized normalized scalar data types.
This extension allows applications to use half-precision floating-
point data when specifying pixel data. It extends the existing image
specification commands to accept the new data type.
Floating-point data is clamped to [0, 1] at various places in the
GL unless clamping is disabled with the ARB_color_buffer_float
IP Status
SGI owns US Patent #6,650,327, issued November 18, 2003. SGI
believes this patent contains necessary IP for graphics systems
implementing floating point (FP) rasterization and FP framebuffer
SGI will not grant the ARB royalty-free use of this IP for use in
OpenGL, but will discuss licensing on RAND terms, on an individual
basis with companies wishing to use this IP in the context of
conformant OpenGL implementations. SGI does not plan to make any
special exemption for open source implementations.
Contact Doug Crisman at SGI Legal for the complete IP disclosure.
1. How is this extension different from the NV_half_float extension?
This extension does not add new commands for specifying half-
precision vertex data, and all imaging functions have been listed
for supporting the "half" type.
2. What should the new data type be called? "half"? "hfloat"?
RESOLVED: half . This convention builds on the convention of
using the type "double" to describe double-precision floating-
point numbers. Here, "half" will refer to half-precision
floating-point numbers.
Even though the 16-bit float data type is a first-class data type,
it is still more problematic than the other types in the sense
that no native programming languages support the data type.
"hfloat/hf" would have reflected a second-class status better
than "half/h".
Both names are not without conflicting precedents. The name "half"
is used to connote 16-bit scalar values on some 32-bit CPU
architectures (e.g., PowerPC). The name "hfloat" has been used to
describe 128-bit floating-point data on VAX systems.
3. Should half-precision data be accepted by commands in the imaging
subset that accept pixel data?
RESOLVED: Yes, all functions in the core OpenGL and the imaging
subset that accept pixel data accept half-precision data.
4. Should the special representations NaN, INF, and denormal be
RESOLVED: Implementation dependent. The spec reflects that Nan
and INF produce unspecified results. Denormalized numbers can
be treated as a value of 0.
New Tokens
Accepted by the <type> parameter of DrawPixels, ReadPixels,
TexImage1D, TexImage2D, TexImage3D, GetTexImage, TexSubImage1D,
TexSubImage2D, TexSubImage3D, GetHistogram, GetMinmax,
ConvolutionFilter1D, ConvolutionFilter2D, GetConvolutionFilter,
SeparableFilter2D, GetSeparableFilter, ColorTable, ColorSubTable,
and GetColorTable:
Additions to Chapter 2 of the OpenGL 2.0 Specification (OpenGL Operation)
Add a new Section 2.1.2, (p. 6):
2.1.2 16-Bit Floating-Point Numbers
A 16-bit floating-point number has a 1-bit sign (S), a 5-bit
exponent (E), and a 10-bit mantissa (M). The value of a 16-bit
floating-point number is determined by the following:
(-1)^S * 0.0, if E == 0 and M == 0,
(-1)^S * 2^-14 * (M / 2^10), if E == 0 and M != 0,
(-1)^S * 2^(E-15) * (1 + M/2^10), if 0 < E < 31,
(-1)^S * INF, if E == 31 and M == 0, or
NaN, if E == 31 and M != 0,
S = floor((N mod 65536) / 32768),
E = floor((N mod 32768) / 1024), and
M = N mod 1024.
Implementations are also allowed to use any of the following
alternative encodings:
(-1)^S * 0.0, if E == 0 and M != 0,
(-1)^S * 2^(E-15) * (1 + M/2^10), if E == 31 and M == 0, or
(-1)^S * 2^(E-15) * (1 + M/2^10), if E == 31 and M != 0,
Any representable 16-bit floating-point value is legal as input
to a GL command that accepts 16-bit floating-point data. The
result of providing a value that is not a floating-point number
(such as infinity or NaN) to such a command is unspecified, but
must not lead to GL interruption or termination. Providing a
denormalized number or negative zero to GL must yield predictable
(modify Table 2.2, p. 9) -- add new row
GL Type Bit Width Description
------- --------- -----------------------------------
half 16 half-precision floating-point value
encoded in an unsigned scalar
Modify Section 2.14, (Colors and Coloring), p. 59
(modify Table 2.9, p. 59) Add new row to the table:
GL Type Conversion
------- ----------
half c
Additions to Chapter 3 of the OpenGL 2.0 Specification (Rasterization)
Modify Section 3.6.4, Rasterization of Pixel Rectangles (p. 126)
(modify Table 3.5, p. 128 -- add new row)
type Parameter Corresponding Special
Token Name GL Data Type Interpretation
-------------- ------------- --------------
(modify Unpacking, p. 129) Data are taken from host memory as a
sequence of signed or unsigned bytes (GL data types byte and ubyte),
signed or unsigned integers (GL data types int and uint), or
floating-point values (GL data types half and float).
Additions to Chapter 4 of the OpenGL 2.0 Specification (Per-Fragment
Operations and the Framebuffer)
Modify Section 4.3.2, Reading Pixels (p. 219)
(modify Final Conversion, p. 222) For an index, if the type is not
FLOAT or HALF_FLOAT_ARB, final conversion consists of masking the
index with the value given in Table 4.6; if the type is FLOAT or
HALF_FLOAT_ARB, then the integer index is converted to a GL float
or half data value.
(modify Table 4.7, p. 224 -- add new row)
type Parameter GL Data Type Component Conversion Formula
-------------- ------------ ----------------------------
HALF_FLOAT_ARB half c = f
Additions to Chapter 5 of the OpenGL 2.0 Specification (Special Functions)
Additions to Chapter 6 of the OpenGL 2.0 Specification (State and
State Requests)
Additions to the AGL/GLX/WGL Specifications
GLX Protocol (Modification to the GLX 1.3 Protocol Encoding Specification)
Modify Appendix A, Pixel Data (p. 148)
(Modify Table A.1, p. 149 -- add new row for HALF_FLOAT_ARB data)
type Encoding Protocol Type nbytes
------------- -------- ------------- ------
New State
New Implementation Dependent State
Revision History
Rev. Date Author Changes
---- -------- --------- --------------------------------------------
1 12/15/03 Kirkland Initial version based on the NV_half_float
2 2/26/04 Kirkland Changed NVIDIA_xxx to NV_xxx.
Changed the issue resolution for INF and NaN.
3 3/11/04 Kirkland Updated language for float16 number handling.
Added bit encodings for half values.
Added issue dealing with name "half".
4 7/23/04 Kirkland Added alternative encodings options for
float16 format.
5 9/17/04 Kirkland Updated to reference OpenGL 2.0 spec.
6 10/1/04 Kirkland Updated IP section.