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Vulkan 1.0 API specification is out

Posted on Tuesday, February 16 2016 @ 17:08:30 CET by

Khronos logo
The Khronos Group announces the final specification of Vulkan 1.0, the low-level successor of the OpenGL API.
The Khronos™ Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies, announces the immediate availability of the Vulkan™ 1.0 royalty-free, open standard API specification. Vulkan provides high-efficiency, cross-platform access to graphics and compute on modern GPUs used in a wide variety of devices from PCs and consoles to mobile phones and embedded platforms. This ground-up design, complementing the OpenGL® and OpenGL ES™ 3D APIs, provides applications direct control over GPU acceleration for maximized performance and predictability with minimized CPU overhead and efficient multi-threaded performance. Multiple Vulkan 1.0 hardware drivers and SDKs are available immediately for developers to begin creating Vulkan applications and engines. More information on Vulkan is available at https://www.khronos.org/vulkan/.

“We are extremely pleased at the industry’s rapid execution on the Vulkan API initiative. Due to Vulkan’s cross platform availability, high performance and healthy open source ecosystem, we expect to see rapid uptake by software developers, far exceeding the adoption of similar APIs which are limited to specific operating systems,” said Gabe Newell, co-founder and managing director, Valve.

About Vulkan 1.0
Vulkan is the result of 18 months in an intense collaboration between leading hardware, game engine and platform vendors, built on significant contributions from multiple Khronos members.Vulkan is designed for portability across multiple platforms with desktop and mobile GPU architectures. Vulkan is available on multiple versions of Microsoft Windows from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and has been adopted as a native rendering and compute API by platformsincluding Linux, SteamOS, Tizen and Android.

By placing an unprecedented collection of Vulkan-related materials into open source, including the full Vulkan conformance tests, the specification source, and a rich set of software tools, Khronos is enabling strong community participation to drive API consistency and ecosystem evolution.All Khronos open source projects are available here: https://github.com/KhronosGroup.

“Vulkan has a huge potential! We're only scratching the surface of what can be done with it, and porting The Talos Principle to Vulkan should be seen as a proof of concept,” said Dean Sekulic graphics engine specialist at Croteam. “Vulkan in just one sentence? The endless war between performance and portability is finally over!”

Vulkan minimizes driver overhead for optimalgraphics and compute performance and provides the direct GPU control demanded by sophisticated game engines, middleware and applications. Simpler, more predictable drivers provide performance and functional portabilityacross a wide range of implementations. A key advantage of Vulkan over OpenGL is the ability to generate GPU work in parallel using many CPU cores, making Vulkan particularly useful for CPU-bound developers, eliminating a bottleneck in applications from diverse domains including games, computer-aided design and mobile apps.Vulkan complements the traditional OpenGL and OpenGL ES APIs that provide a higher level of abstraction to access GPU functionality, which may be more convenient for many developers.Khronos will continue to evolve OpenGL and OpenGL ES in parallel with Vulkan to meet market needs.

“The Vulkan working group has been driven bymore positive developer energy than any other Khronos project, resulting in the release of specifications, conformance tests, and open source SDK and compiler components in just 18 months,” said Neil Trevett, president of the Khronos Group and vice president at NVIDIA. “Vulkan does not replace traditional APIs, but it provides another choice fordevelopers. In the right hands, Vulkan’s multi-threading and explicit resource management canenable a new class of smooth, high-performance engines and applications.”

Vulkan uses the Khronos SPIR-V™ intermediate representation defined by Khronos with native support for shader and compute kernel features.SPIR-V splits the compiler chain, enabling high-level language front-ends to emit programs in a standardized intermediate form to be ingested by Vulkan. Eliminating the need for a built-in high-level language source compiler significantly reduces GPU driver complexity and will enable a diversity of language front-ends. Additionally, a standardized IR provides a measure of shader IP protection, accelerated shader load times andenables developers to use a common language front-end, improving shader reliability and portability across multiple implementations.

Vulkan’s layered design enables a common, extensible architecture to install tool layers for code validation, debugging and profiling during development without impacting production performance. Khronos’ open source materials enable SDKs and tools to be built for any platform.

About the LunarG Vulkan SDK
LunarG has released the first Vulkan SDK for Windows and Linux concurrently with the Vulkan 1.0 specification. The SDK includes validation layers to ensure proper Vulkan API usage and improve portability across platforms and graphics hardware. Additional layers are available for taking screenshots, tracing API activity, and running other debugging tasks. The LunarG SDK contains sample programs and documentation to help developers accelerate application development. The LunarG SDK for Vulkan is open source and freely available from LunarXchange at vulkan.lunarg.com.

“Vulkan, by design, is a very low-level API that provides applications direct control over GPU acceleration with minimized CPU overhead and efficient multi-threaded performance,” says Karen Ghavam, CEO at LunarG Inc. “The SDK provides essential tools to aid application developers in developing to this lower level API.”



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