[Public WebGL] Oversight in bufferData and bufferSubData specification

[email protected] [email protected]
Tue May 24 05:09:25 PDT 2011

The ARM Mali-T604 does in fact support double-precision floating point:


It's true that there is no OpenGL ES 2.0 extension for 64-bit floats as of yet, but it won't take long to write one when the time is right. 

Best regards,

-----Original Message-----
From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]] On Behalf Of ext Kenneth Russell
Sent: 24. toukokuuta 2011 0:47
To: Chris Marrin
Cc: Gregg Tavares (wrk); public webgl
Subject: Re: [Public WebGL] Oversight in bufferData and bufferSubData specification

On Mon, May 23, 2011 at 2:24 PM, Chris Marrin <[email protected]> wrote:
> On May 23, 2011, at 11:33 AM, Kenneth Russell wrote:
>> On Sat, May 21, 2011 at 11:14 AM, Gregg Tavares (wrk) <[email protected]> wrote:
>>> On Sat, May 21, 2011 at 12:16 AM, Kenneth Russell <[email protected]> wrote:
>>>> On Fri, May 20, 2011 at 8:17 PM, Gregg Tavares (wrk) 
>>>> <[email protected]>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> Why does it matter?
>>>>> in real GL, bufferData and bufferSubData just take void* and a 
>>>>> length so it seems like any ArrayBufferView should be valid.
>>>>> I can do this now
>>>>> gl.bufferData(gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, someUint8BufferView);   // upload 
>>>>> bytes, gl.vertexAttribPointer(0, 3, gl.FLOAT, ...)   // use as 
>>>>> floats or visa versa gl.bufferData(gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, 
>>>>> someFloat32BufferView);   // upload floats, 
>>>>> gl.vertexAttribPointer(0, 3, gl.BYTE, ...)   // use as bytes so 
>>>>> why does it matter that I can upload a Float64Array? What I upload 
>>>>> and how I used it are not related in WebGL
>>>> Misinterpretation or reinterpretation of uploaded data is irrelevant.
>>>> OpenGL ES 2.0 does not support double-precision floating point 
>>>> values at all and neither does WebGL. Uploading a Float64Array into 
>>>> a buffer object will only result in garbage values that can not be 
>>>> properly referenced as vertex attributes.
>>>> From the standpoint of strongly typing the IDL, only the 
>>>> ArrayBufferView subclasses that can legally be used in the API 
>>>> should be accepted. If a future version of WebGL begins to accept 
>>>> double-precision floating-point values, then the IDL could either 
>>>> be changed to add overloads taking Float64Array, or could be 
>>>> changed back to what it is now, taking the superclass ArrayBufferView.
>>> I don't agree. bufferData doesn't have a type like texImage2D so you 
>>> can't validate that they are passing in valid data. It's not worth 
>>> complicating the IDL or even checking for this case IMO.
>>> I can download float32 data and do this var bogusView = new 
>>> Float64Array(someFloat32Array); gl.bufferData(gl.ARRAY_BUFFER, 
>>> bogusView);  // Shouldn't matter. I'm still uploading Float32 data.
>>> Why does it matter? Changing this will not add even 1 bit of safety. 
>>> In fact as it is now you can upload an ArrayBuffer, untyped. There 
>>> is zero need to check for Float64Array since the API can't validate any of the other cases.
>>> There is no reason to complicate it now for one out of million cases.
>> Supporting uploading of Float64Arrays with no error reporting at all 
>> gives the incorrect impression that such data can somehow be validly 
>> referenced on the GPU, which it can't in the OpenGL ES 2.0 API. At a 
>> minimum I think that an OpenGL error should be raised if one is 
>> passed to bufferData or bufferSubData.
> It can be validly uploaded. To WebGL, it's just a bunch of bytes. The interpretation on the other end is up to the GPU. WebGL doesn't define support for 64 bit floats. But it would be completely reasonable to define some sort of extension that would require its support. So I think it would be a mistake to add logic to disallow it.

OpenGL ES 2.0 does not support 64-bit floats at all, not even via an extension, and I think it is unlikely that support will be added to mobile hardware within at least several years, if ever. Therefore any WebGL extension adding 64-bit float support would be desktop-only, and so far the working group has shied away from defining such extensions.


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