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ASTC: a new codec for 3D images?

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 | Posted by Jim Thacker


Open standards body The Khronos Group’s new ASTC specification aims to provide a dedicated image-compression technology tailored to the needs of 3D developers, including support for normals and alphas.

Video has H.264. Audio has MP3. So why don’t 3D images have their own open standard for compression?

ASTC, the Khronos Group’s new specification for developers using the OpenGL or OpenGL ES APIs, aims to change all that. The ‘exceptionally efficient compression technology’ encodes images at bit rates down to below 1 bit per pixel.

Unlike traditional 2D image-compression formats, the ASTC specification supports alpha channels and X+Y and XY+Z formats for surface normals.

The games industry’s seal of approval
Aras Pranckevi?ius, rendering architect at Unity Technologies pronounced ASTC “awesome”.

“Texture compression that is higher quality, lower bitrate and with more control than any existing compression formats? Yes please!”

You can read more about ASTC in the official news release, issued at Siggraph earlier this month. Jon Peddie has also just published a good article on the technology, which includes more of the historical context.

Visit The Khronos Group website

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  • Will

    Calling this technology ATSC isn’t confusing at all considering the ATSC is a standards committee in a closely related field whose task includes choosing compression standards for s3d content.

  • Jaysen

    Will, it is confusing but Jim made a typo since it is ASTC not ATSC. Slighly less confusing.

  • http://www.cgchannel.com Jim Thacker

    Oops. You’re dead right: fixed now. (Side note: I felt like an idiot when I read that – then I noticed that even The Khronos Group mixes the two up in the URL for its press release… and still felt like an idiot, but in slightly better company.)

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