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Release of Next Generation, Vulkan API is Imminent – Khronos Group Confirms, API Getting Final Polishes


Khronos Group has issued a press release today, stating that their Vulkan API (Version 1.0) will be getting a release very soon. The press release comes just at the year's end as Khronos Group also confirms that they couldn't meet the target release date for Vulkan API but they are on a home stretch and the release of their next generation Vulkan API is imminent.

Khronos Group's Vulkan API Release is Imminent - Multi-OS API To Tackle DirectX 12

The Vulkan API can be seen as the successor to AMD's Mantle API as it is built on the same DNA. The Vulkan API pushes for reduce API overhead and optimized multi-core and multi-threaded performance. The API is going to be the direct competitor to Microsoft's DirectX 12 API which is also going to see wide-scale usage in 2016. DX12 unlike Vulkan, is restricted to just Microsoft's Windows OS.

Vulkan on the other hand can work on multiple OS which range from Windows (XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10), Linux, SteamOS, Android. Also unlike Mantle, Vulkan will be able to run multiple GPUs from various vendors allowing a more wider support than any previous API. Another leverage over previous APIs is that Vulkan adopts the first open standard cross-API intermediate language for parallel compute and graphics known as SPIR-V, allowing developers to write programs for Vulkan in their own choice of programming language. Following is the press release issued by Khronos Group:

We have some good news and some bad news.  The year-end target release date for Vulkan will not be met.  However, we are in the home stretch and the release of Vulkan 1.0 is imminent!

Here is a more detailed update...

The specification is complete and undergoing legal review and final polishing. The conformance tests are being finalized and multiple member companies are preparing drivers for release. Implementation feedback is the vital final stage of making any Khronos specification ready for primetime, and the Vulkan 1.0 specification will be published when the first conformant implementations are confirmed.

Work is also progressing to complete Vulkan SDKs for Windows, Android and Linux. Google has upgraded to Promoter membership and is now on the Khronos Board to help steer Vulkan strategy for Android and the wider industry.

There is considerable energy driving the work to bring you Vulkan. We are planning sessions and demos at key industry events throughout the year. We are excited about the emerging Vulkan ecosystem that will create new business opportunities for the graphics and compute industry.

Vulkan will set the foundation for graphics and compute APIs for years to come and so Khronos is taking the time needed to do this right – and the Vulkan 1.0 release is near!

Khronos Group announced their Vulkan API few months ago that has been regarded as the successor to OpenGL. Vulkan aims to be bigger and better than what it once was. It is the only low level API that supports every single platform in existence. A big advantage of Vulkan over OpenGL is that it possesses a multi-core friendly architecture. Where OpenGL APIs did not allow a generation of graphic commands in parallel to command execution, Vulkan happily allows multiple command buffers in parallel. AMD who has put a lot of emphasis on Mantle API in the past may just leverage performance when the API hits the market since both share the same foundation and Vulkan has cross platform support (Windows 7/8/10, Linux, Android) along with Cross-Vendor support (NVIDIA, AMD, Intel, Qualcomm, Imagination Technologies, ARM, Samsung, Broadcom, Vivanate.

Even Valve has said the Vulkan is the right way forward as said by Valve’s San Ginsburg in his speech from SIGGRAPH 2015. Dan Ginsburg, who has taken care of porting the Source 2 engine to Vulkan, didn’t tiptoe around the elephant in the room, Microsoft’s DirectX 12. In fact, he openly said that Vulkan is the right way forward and there is not much reason to create a DX12 backend when developers can use Khronos Group’s API right away; here’s a transcription of the most relevant parts:

Since hosting the first Vulkan face-to-face meeting last year, we’ve been really pleased with the progress of the API and we think it’s the right way forward for powering the next generation of high performance games.

Here’s why we think Vulkan is the future. Unless you are aggressive enough to be shipping a DX12 game this year, I would argue that there is really not much reason to ever create a DX12 back end for your game. And the reason for that is that Vulkan will cover you on Windows 10 on the same class of hardware and so much more from all these other platforms and IHVs that we’ve heard from. Metal is single platform, single vendor, and Vulkan; we are gonna have support for not only Windows 10 but Windows 7, Windows 8, we’re gonna have it on Android and all of the IHVs are making great progress on drivers, I think we’re going to see super rapid adoption. If you’re developing a game for next generation APIs, I think it’s clear that Vulkan is the best choice and we’re very pleased with the progress and the state of the API. We think it’s gonna power the next generation of games for years to come.

Moreover, we all know that Valve as a company has been trying to push OpenGL & Linux support in the last few years, in an effort to oppose Microsoft’s near monopoly on Windows; however, they haven’t had any real success so far and presently there is no reason to believe Vulkan will suddenly turn the tide. Of course, the battle for the leading next generation APIs between DirectX12, Metal and Vulkan has just begun, but we can see who’s already in pole position and it’s not Vulkan right now.

Still, what gamers really care for is to get the promised performance boost and that can be achieved through constant driver optimization and robust use of the next generation APIs that are now available in the market. AMD will definitely try to enhance their graphics performance with Vulkan on the market and NVIDIA is already focusing to extend their established lead with the new APIs. Vulkan is a definite leap forward in the right direction as it offers developers deeper access to a specific hardware so that the program is not only optimized but provides a better experience to the end user.