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Sparse Textures OpenGL®

This sample presents the GL_AMD_sparse_texture extension introduced by AMD FirePro W and AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 series.

Recent advances in application complexity and a desire for higher resolutions have pushed texture sizes up considerably. Often, the amount of physical memory available to a graphics processor is a limiting factor in the performance of texture-heavy applications. Once the available physical memory is exhausted, paging may occur bringing performance down considerably – or worse, the application may fail.

Nevertheless, the amount of address space available to the graphics processor has increased to the point where many gigabytes of address space may be usable even though that amount of physical memory is not present. 

This extension allows the separation of the graphics processor’s address space (reservation) from the requirement that all textures must be physically backed (commitment). This exposes a limited form of virtualization for textures. 

Use cases include sparse textures, texture paging, on-demand and delayed loading of texture assets, and application controlled level of detail.

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