OpenGL for Embedded Systems

What Does OpenGL for Embedded Systems Mean?

OpenGL for Embedded Systems (OpenGL ES), a subset of the OpenGL 3D graphics application programming interface (API), is a cross-platform API designed for embedded devices, such as video game consoles, mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDA). This lightweight API consumes minimal power and requires minimal storage space.


As a low-level API, OpenGL ES works between software applications and hardware or software graphics engines. Because it is royalty-free, OpenGL ES provides an affordable solution for mobile and embedded platform developers seeking to create advanced 3D graphics and games.

Techopedia Explains OpenGL for Embedded Systems

As a cross-platform API, OpenGL ES is vendor-neutral and supported by a variety of mobile platforms, including Android, iOS, WebOS, Symbian^3 and BlackBerry OS. Devices that support OpenGL ES include:

  • Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
  • Android 2.2 phones
  • Nokia N900 and N8
  • BlackBerry Storm 2 and Curve 8530
  • Samsung Galaxy S and Wave

OpenGL ES accommodates devices ranging from 50 MHz cell phones with only 1 MB of random access memory (RAM), to 400 MHz PDAs with 64 MB of RAM.

OpenGL ES is based on OpenGL – a well-documented API. Thus, application developers wanting to work with OpenGL ES have access to a variety of resources, including books, sample code and other relevant information.

Faster central processing units (CPU), larger RAM, higher resolution touch screen displays and 3D graphics accelerators are creating a more ideal mobile device space for advanced graphics application development and the OpenGL ES API.

The Khronos Group, a non-profit technology industry group, provides OpenGL ES oversight and management.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…