Khronos KTX 2.0 Textures Enable Compact, Visually Rich, glTF 3D Assets

Beaverton, OR – April 20, 2021 – Today, The Khronos® Group announces the ratification of KTXTM 2.0, adding support for Basis Universal supercompression to this container format for reliable, ubiquitous distribution of GPU textures. Basis Universal is a compression technology developed by Binomial that produces compact textures that can be efficiently transcoded to a variety of GPU compressed texture formats at run-time. Additionally, Khronos has released the KHR_texture_basisu extension enabling glTF to contain KTX 2.0 textures, resulting in universally distributable glTF assets that reduce download size and use natively supported texture formats to reduce GPU memory size and boost rendering speed on diverse devices and platforms. Lastly, Khronos has released open source tools and transcoders, together with developer and artist guidelines, to enable and encourage widespread usage of KTX 2.0 textures throughout the glTF ecosystem, including the three.js, Babylon.js and Gestaltor viewers that have already integrated support.

Run-time 3D assets have typically used JPG or PNG compressed images to transport textures with reduced file sizes. However, these formats cannot be processed directly by GPUs and must be decompressed into full size images in GPU memory, consuming precious memory space and bandwidth and resulting in poor rendering performance and high power consumption— which is particularly problematic on mobile devices. GPU compressed texture formats enable compact in-memory textures, with optimized memory access for faster, more efficient rendering. However, it is not practical to use GPU texture formats in widely-distributed glTF assets, as the highly fragmented GPU texture format landscape would make them unusable on many target devices.

Basis Universal compression technology from Binomial solves this problem by defining a ‘universal’ compressed texture format that can be efficiently transcoded at run-time into a natively-supported GPU format on the target device. Basis Universal provides developers two compression options that combine selected modes of the Khronos-defined ETC1 and ASTC GPU texture formats with RDO encoding and LZ-based supercompression for compact texture file sizes. The ETC1S mode can achieve significantly smaller transmission and memory sizes than JPEG and PNG textures. The UASTC mode delivers higher quality textures than ETC1S, particularly suitable for normal maps, while still achieving smaller file sizes and significant memory savings.

To see the effectiveness of the new KTX 2.0 supercompressed textures in real-time in your browser please visit the Khronos KTX home page.

“KTX 2.0 supercompressed textures complement glTF’s Draco geometry compression to enable beautiful, compact and efficient 3D assets for everyone,” said Don McCurdy, Khronos 3D Formats working group chair, and software engineer at Google. “I want to acknowledge the hard work by many companies in the Khronos 3D Formats working group to get this significant technology into the hands of developers everywhere, and a special thank you to Binomial for the royalty-free contribution of the Basis Universal technology that makes KTX 2.0 universal GPU compressed textures possible.”

To encourage the rapid roll-out of KTX 2.0, Khronos has created a set of open source KTX tools, which together with tools from the industry enable the creation, validation and inspection of KTX files. Khronos has also produced a set of open source optimized transcoders for integration into applications and engines to handle KTX 2.0 textures. Additionally, the glTF Working Group has created Artist and Developer Guides providing a step-by-step KTX asset creation workflow and detailing how to effectively use the new KHR_texture_basisu extension.

Khronos welcomes feedback and contributions via GitHub as the 3D community puts KTX 2.0 to use. Any company is also welcome to join Khronos to participate in any Khronos working groups, including the 3D Formats working group that is managing the evolution of glTF and KTX.

Industry Support for KTX 2.0

“KTX 2.0 enables compressed textures for both transmission and runtime use across GPU vendors, enabling versatile optimizations reducing memory, bandwidth, and power usage. We are especially excited to apply this to 3D geospatial, where imagery captured via satellites and drones is creating an explosion of textures at global scale,” said Patrick Cozzi, CEO at Cesium.

“Including support for Basis Universal compression with KTX 2.0 is a great leap forward for our clients, in terms of both compression performance and runtime memory consumption – which is why we are pretty excited about this glTF extension in particular,” said Dr. Max Limper, co-chair of the Khronos 3D Commerce Asset Creation TSG and CEO at DGG.

“IKEA appreciates the fantastic functionality exposed by KTX 2.0 and Basis Universal. We are excited to see the benefits of what can be achieved thanks to the GPU memory reduction and device transcoding capabilities. Thanks to KTX 2.0 it seems that the era of widespread texture compression usage is finally here!” said Martin Enthed, Digital and IKEA Digital Lab Manager at IKEA Communications AB & Khronos Vice President

“Every millisecond counts in ecommerce. At Shopify, we are thrilled with the dramatic improvements in file transfer sizes and device optimization that KTX 2.0 brings to 3D on the web and mobile. Shopify plans to adopt this technology across the platform so that every merchant can provide customers with delay-free 3D experiences,” said Jon Wade, Sr. Product Manager 3D & AR/VR at Shopify.

“Thanks for all the great work on KTX and KTX 2.0. These formats are such a joy compared to all the formats I’ve worked with prior,” said Alec Miller, Sr. Graphics Engineer, thatgamecompany.

“This extension enhances glTF in one of its key design features: smaller asset sizes for quick transmission as well as optimal GPU usage. We are excited about this feature and are supporting it from day one in our visual glTF editor Gestaltor,” said Norbert Nopper, Managing Director at UX3D.

“3D is increasingly becoming an effective way to merchandise products in retail. At Wayfair, we strive to provide customers with true-to-life experiences using emerging visual computing technologies such as AR & VR, as well as 3D-rendered product imagery. KTX 2.0 is another step toward delivering high quality 3D virtual product experiences in an optimized way, letting developers and content creators further unlock the potential of 3D. We’re excited to contribute to such capabilities and continue this joint effort to push the industry forward,” said Shrenik Sadalgi, Chair of the 3DCommerce Working Group, and Director of R&D / Wayfair Next at Wayfair.