The company introduced an updated version of OpenGL, an interface for 2D and 3D graphics functions such as shading and texture mapping promoted by Silicon Graphics. This type of interface is generically referred to as an Application Programming Interface, or API.
The new interface will improve the price-performance of hardware using the Sparc processor, said Paula Sager, vice president of the Power Client Software Group at Sun. He added that lower-cost machines will now be able to perform such high-powered operations as animation--once the domain of more expensive machines.
Sun also unveiled a new version of its imaging and video library API called XIL 1.3. Sun's software allows developers of geographical information systems, color prepress, and medical imaging products to write applications without having to change the software every time there is a change in system hardware.
Sun says new features allow faster manipulation of images that are hundreds of megabytes in size. The new version will also support more platforms, including OpenGL and Java, as well as Intel systems.
Previously, Sun says, programmers creating custom imaging software were forced to customize the operating system as well. "This will cut their development costs, as well as their time to market. It [the API] relieves them the burden of doing foundation-level work, and we provide stable release," Sager said.