Class ARBRobustness

  • public class ARBRobustness
    extends java.lang.Object
    Native bindings to the ARB_robustness extension.

    Several recent trends in how OpenGL integrates into modern computer systems have created new requirements for robustness and security for OpenGL rendering contexts.

    Additionally GPU architectures now support hardware fault detection; for example, video memory supporting ECC (error correcting codes) and error detection. OpenGL contexts should be capable of recovering from hardware faults such as uncorrectable memory errors. Along with recovery from such hardware faults, the recovery mechanism can also allow recovery from video memory access exceptions and system software failures. System software failures can be due to device changes or driver failures.

    Demands for increased software robustness and concerns about malware exploiting buffer overflows have lead API designers to provide additional "safe" APIs that bound the amount of data returned by an API query. For example, the safer "snprintf" or "_snprintf" routines are prefered over "sprintf".

    The OpenGL API has many such robustness perils. OpenGL queries return (write) some number of bytes to a buffer indicated by a pointer parameter. The exact number of bytes written by existing OpenGL queries is not expressed directly by any specific parameter; instead the number of bytes returned is a complex function of one or more query arguments, sometimes context state such as pixel store modes or the active texture selector, and the current state of an object (such as a texture level's number of total texels). By the standards of modern API design, such queries are not "safe". Making these queries safer involves introducing a new query API with an additional parameter that specifies the number of bytes in the buffer and never writing bytes beyond that limit.

    Multi-threaded use of OpenGL contexts in a "share group" allow sharing of objects such as textures and programs. Such sharing in conjunction with concurrent OpenGL commands stream execution by two or more contexts introduces hazards whereby one context can change objects in ways that can cause buffer overflows for another context's OpenGL queries.

    The original ARB_vertex_buffer_object extension includes an issue that explicitly states program termination is allowed when out-of-bounds vertex buffer object fetches occur. Modern GPUs capable of DirectX 10 enforce the well-defined behavior of always returning zero values for indices or non-fixed components in this case. Older GPUs may require extra checks to enforce well-defined (and termination free) behavior, but this expense is warranted when processing potentially untrusted content.

    The intent of this extension is to address some specific robustness goals:

    • For all existing OpenGL queries, provide additional "safe" APIs that limit data written to user pointers to a buffer size in bytes that is an explicit additional parameter of the query.
    • Provide a mechanism for an OpenGL application to learn about graphics resets that affect the context. When a graphics reset occurs, the OpenGL context becomes unusable and the application must create a new context to continue operation. Detecting a graphics reset happens through an inexpensive query.
    • Provide an enable to guarantee that out-of-bounds buffer object accesses by the GPU will have deterministic behavior and preclude application instability or termination due to an incorrect buffer access. Such accesses include vertex buffer fetches of attributes and indices, and indexed reads of uniforms or parameters from buffers.

    In one anticipated usage model, WebGL contexts may make use of these robust features to grant greater stability when using untrusted code. WebGL contexts cannot call OpenGL commands directly but rather must route all OpenGL API calls through the web browser. It is then the web browser that configures the context, using the commands in this extension, to enforce safe behavior. In this scenario, the WebGL content cannot specify or change the use of this extension's features itself; the web browser enforces this policy.

    There are other well-known robustness issues with the OpenGL API which this extension does not address. For example, selector-based OpenGL commands are a well-known source of programming errors. Code to manipulate texture state may assume the active texture selector is set appropriately when an intervening function call obscures a change to the active texture state resulting in incorrectly updated or queried state. The EXT_direct_state_access extension introduces selector-free OpenGL commands and queries to address that particular issue so this extension does not.

    The intent of this extension is NOT to deprecate any existing API and thereby introduce compatibility issues and coding burdens on existing code, but rather to provide new APIs to ensure a level of robustness commensurate with the expectations of modern applications of OpenGL.