We've currently got the capability to map buffer objects, which enables loading of data into buffers without needing to use any intermediate system memory arrays or otherwise do a memory copy. We don't have that ability with textures - true, we can do something similar with PBOs but it involves more round-tripping.

Being able to map a texture object has the following uses:

  • The ability to implement "texture orphaning" for dynamic textures which must be fully replaced each frame, without needing a round-trip through a PBO.
  • The ability to more directly get data into a texture which can provide advantages for both creation and updating use cases, and without needing any intermediate steps (this can facilitate any kind of texture streaming scheme).
  • The ability to read data from a texture without the driver first having to do a copy back to system memory.

This suggestion is to overload the glMapBuffer, glMapBufferRange, glFlushMappedBufferRange and glUnmapBuffer calls to also accept a texture target as the target parameter. This target can be any that is valid for any of the glTexImage/glTexSubImage calls. Behaviour should otherwise be identical, and the texture must be unmapped before it can be used in a draw call.

Issues I can see include:

  • Is it only allowed to map mip level 0, or - if not - how to specify mapping a mip level other than 0? Suggest to perhaps use glMapBufferRange with an appropriate offset?
  • glBindBuffer or glBindTexture?
  • What happens if glTexImage or glTexSubImage is called while a texture is mapped?