Vulkan 1.2 Spec Released, Adds 23 Proven Extensions into the Core API

Jan 15, 2020
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The Vulkan 1.2 specification has been released today by the Khronos Group. This release integrates twenty-three proven extensions into the core Vulkan API, mostly developer requested features such as access to new hardware functionality, timeline semaphores for easily managed synchronization; a formal memory model to precisely define the semantics of synchronization and memory operations in different threads; descriptor indexing to enable reuse of descriptor layouts by multiple shaders; deeper support for shaders written in HLSL, and more.

Critically, all graphics cards that already supported previous Vulkan releases are perfectly compatible with Vulkan 1.2. Five GPU vendors have already passed the conformance tests: AMD, ARM, Imagination, Intel, and NVIDIA.

Vulkan API Now Supports Ray Tracing, Built Upon NVIDIA’s RTX – Industry’s First Open, Cross-Vendor & Cross-Platform Ray Tracing Standard

Additionally, the Khronos Group said it will further support the community for Vulkan 1.2 by releasing open source tools, compilers, debuggers (such as the RenderDoc frame capture and debugging tool, the Vulkan conformance test suite, and the Vulkan SDK with support for both the ‘GPU Assisted’ and ‘Best Practices’ validation layers) by the end of this month.

Tom Olson, distinguished engineer at RM and Vulkan working group chair, stated:

Vulkan 1.2 brings together nearly two dozen high-priority features developed over the past two years into one, unified core Vulkan standard, setting a cutting-edge bar for functionality in the industry’s only open GPU API for cross-platform 3D and compute acceleration. Khronos will continue delivering regular Vulkan ecosystem updates with this proven, developer-focused methodology to both meet the needs and expand the horizons of real-world applications.

The press release also includes a few additional statements of support from the industry.

Andrej Zdravkovic, corporate vice president of software development at AMD:

AMD is excited to provide support for the Vulkan 1.2 specification in our upcoming Vulkan 1.2 supported driver for a broad range of AMD graphics hardware, including the AMD Radeon™ RX 5700 Series and AMD Radeon™ RX 5500 Series. Vulkan 1.2 brings many new features, including Dynamic Descriptor Indexing and finer type support for 16-bit and 8-bit types – and are designed to enable developers to better take advantage of modern GPU features and deliver richer graphics experiences to end users. We look forward to continued adoption of the Vulkan API and the new graphics experiences possible with the latest Vulkan 1.2 feature set.

Dwight Diercks, senior vice president of software engineering at NVIDIA:

NVIDIA’s Vulkan 1.2 drivers are available today with full functionality for both Windows and Linux. With Vulkan enabling mission-critical applications on NVIDIA GPUs across desktop, embedded and cloud platforms, we’re driving innovative functionality to fuel the growing momentum of this key open standard.

Mark Butler, vice president of software engineering at Imagination Technologies:

Imagination welcomes the launch of Vulkan 1.2. It’s a great update and will really benefit developers. Our latest GPU architecture – IMG A-Series – will fully support Vulkan 1.2 and will help developers achieve the best performance and power savings. Our best-in-class tools, such as PVRTune and PVRCarbon, are designed with Vulkan in mind, giving developers detailed information of profiling and debugging.

Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock Entertainment:

We are very excited about the new capabilities in Vulkan 1.2. The VMA and scheduling features allow us to implement next-generation graphical and computing solutions across a wide array of hardware for our Cider game engine.

Indeed, the Khronos Group flaunted Vulkan's increasing industry adoption with a couple of slides that showcase several big games, on both PC/consoles and mobile, using their low-level API. We'll see if this new specification can further entice game developers to use Vulkan.

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