Vulkan 1.0 erupts with a hard launch

The Khronos Group released version 1.0 of its Vulkan graphics API this morning. This release is a hard launch, meaning that the Vulkan specification, conformance tests, SDKs, and other resources are available immediately for developers who want to play with the new API. AMD has a beta Windows driver with Vulkan support available for its graphics cards, and Nvidia has also posted a compatible beta driver on its Vulkan portal.

Vulkan is the Khronos Group's take on the low-overhead graphics API movement that AMD more or less kicked off with its Mantle API back in 2013. (Vulkan is based in part on Mantle.) Like Microsoft's Direct3D 12 and Apple's Metal, Vulkan is meant to give developers more direct control over the resources available on the graphics card.

Direct3D 12 will only be available on Windows 10, however, and Metal is only available on Apple's platforms. Vulkan will be compatible with any OpenGL ES 3.1 or 4.x GPU. Operating systems supported include Windows XP and newer, along with SteamOS, Ubuntu, Red Hat, Tizen, and Android.

Khronos says Vulkan will let developers generate GPU work in parallel using many CPU cores, something that's difficult in current releases of OpenGL. Vulkan also purports to come with benefits like "simpler, more predictable drivers" and greater portability across various platforms.

While Vulkan may offer advantages to some developers, especially those whose programs are CPU-bound, the new API is meant to complement OpenGL rather than replace it. Neil Trevett, Nvidia VP and president of the Khronos Group, says Vulkan "…provides another choice for developers. In the right hands, Vulkan’s multi-threading and explicit resource management can enable a new class of smooth, high-performance engines and applications."

Croteam's The Talos Principle will get Vulkan support soon, according to a post on the company's blog. We might have to play with that title once it's patched to see what the new API can do.

Comments closed
    • moose17145
    • 7 years ago

    That already happened. It was called 2004 / 2005 after the Athlon 64 came out.

    [url<]https://techreport.com/review_full/5683/amd-athlon-64-processor[/url<]

    • Stargazer
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]W10 market share "finally" surpassed XP...11.85% for W10 vs 11.42% for XP (then again, is not 1st time that XP looses 2n place and then in a next month recovers 2nd place :p, in fact, in November 2015, XP was at 10,59 % and in December was 10.93% !) As you know, W7 is completely dominant, with such a small progression of W10, targeting Dx12 is a mistake, IMHO, YMMV.[/quote<] When deciding which graphics API to target for a game, it's not very meaningful to look at a data set that is dominated by computers that won't be used for gaming. It's probably more relevant to look at a data set such as the [url=http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey<]Steam Hardware Survey[/url<], and there things look quite different. There Windows 7 is still the single largest OS at 42.08%, but Windows 10 is closing in at 34.05%. Give it another few months, and Windows 10 will probably have overtaken Windows 7. Windows XP is almost a rounding error at 2.31%.

    • reever
    • 7 years ago

    DX IME didn’t really take off until like, 8. When I first started gaming every game seemed to have issues with DX and not OpenGL (halflife, turok)

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    Tired of DirectX?
    Then you simply gotta see
    This thing called Vulkan!

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    I have this T-shirt that says, ” LATE, BUT WORTH THE WAIT!”

    Er, does that help?

    • Deanjo
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]They are working on the Linux problem. [/quote<] So they have claimed for about 20 years now. openGL for example has been around for eons and they still have p*** poor performance in linux.

    • Growler
    • 7 years ago

    Give their software guy a break. He already has to write new drivers for their existing products. Now you want him to develop for new platforms as well? They’d have to hire another guy for that.

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 7 years ago

    It’s hard to judge with no Vulkan games out right now.

    They are working on the Linux problem. As BobbinThreadbare pointed out, they just submitted 90K lines of code. An entire rewrite of a graphics driver is a pretty hard core undertaking. It’s not just hot air this time.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 7 years ago

    Oh? That’s sad. But then again, Fermi [i<]is[/i<] starting to become inadequate these days, so I suppose people like me need to upgrade sooner or later...

    • Deanjo
    • 7 years ago

    Dude, people have been “withholding judgement and will remain cautiously optimistic…” for better linux support from AMD/ATI for decades. If anything, AMD should have had the inside track if it was based heavily off their own API and way ahead of the game.

    • Deanjo
    • 7 years ago

    Still doesn’t change that AMD is always way behind their competitors outside of windows. In fact your comment just stresses that even more.

    • AJSB
    • 7 years ago

    1st of all there is no info about test parameters about that “graphic” that you linked.

    2nd, the developer already said that ONLY a SMALL part of the code that could have been ported to Vulkan was actually ported to it. They actually said that people should NOT consider this game as proof of Vulkan performance but only a proof of concept.

    Also, AFAIK, this game also is NOT a true OpenGL game , it uses a HLSL to GLSL translation layer.

    So, what we have here with this game is a FRACTION of code in Vulkan and other code using
    HLSL to GLSL translation layer with all the penalties that this brings.

    Talking about Linux, IIRC, last TRUE OpenGL AAA game ever ported to Linux was ETQW.
    ALL this new wave of games ported to Linux since Valve initiative are using HLSL to GLSL translation layers, many of them derivative from …WINE code !

    Even in Windows i don’t think that there are many true OpenGL AAA games since ETQW.

    The problem of translation layers its loss of performance.
    Valve made a great job with TF2 and in special L4D2, BUT not ALL ports have/had same level of quality/care.

    Game engines need to have FULL support for Vulkan (and if possible, OpenGL), and game devs should embrace Vulkan (and OpenGL) as the best option as for multi platform API.

    Dx12 is W10-only.
    Vulkan can work w/ W7, W8.x, W10, XP, Linux, Android,etc.

    W10 market share “finally” surpassed XP…11.85% for W10 vs 11.42% for XP (then again, is not 1st time that XP looses 2n place and then in a next month recovers 2nd place :p, in fact, in November 2015, XP was at 10,59 % and in December was 10.93% !)

    As you know, W7 is completely dominant, with such a small progression of W10, targeting Dx12 is a mistake, IMHO, YMMV.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    I’d rather they called this API ‘Spock’.

    Edit – Down thumbs? Sorry, didn’t realize people still have Star Wars Fever.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    For a launch-day implementation I would say it’s leagues ahead of the AAA title games that were already available for public benchmarking on the day that DX12 “launched”.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 7 years ago

    Windows 7 and 8: DX11 or Vulkan?

    (I’m not switching to Windows 10 anytime soon for various reasons. I’m still annoyed that I had to pay an online store $12 for a Windows 7 download for an emergency OS reinstall back in May 2015, because Microsoft yanked all of their Windows 7 download options for users WITH the license keys and insisted that I upgrade to Windows 8 or a beta Windows 10.

    MS’s alternative download source kept giving me a Korean Windows 7 download, and then their download server went down for over a week.)

    • Rza79
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]Eines muss einem dabei aber bewusst sein: Der Entwickler Croteam spricht davon, dass es sich um eine sehr frühe Implementierung von Vulkan handelt.[/quote<] [i<]One must realize that the developer, Croteam, speaks of a very early implementation of Vulkan.[/i<] So it's not optimized yet. For an early implementation, this is very good.

    • Concupiscence
    • 7 years ago

    I’ll be happy to see GCN 1.0 hardware running at radeonsi speeds with AMDGPU, that’s for sure.

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 7 years ago

    I thought it was a strange logo. Thanks for those references.

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 7 years ago

    It’s based heavily on their own API. Additionally they are rewriting their driver. Those are major undertakings for such a small and struggling team. I am withholding judgement and will remain cautiously optimistic… for now.

    • Concupiscence
    • 7 years ago

    After the great disappointment that was OpenGL 3, those apps are a big part of why Vulkan and OpenGL are being maintained as separate viable APIs going forward.

    • anotherengineer
    • 7 years ago

    [url<]https://i.imgflip.com/mc5mw.jpg[/url<] sorry couldn't help it 😀

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 7 years ago

    DX12/Vulkan gives the developer control, that means control to screw things up too 😉

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 7 years ago

    AMDGPU isn’t done/mainlined yet. Have to finish that first. They did just drop 90k lines of code for review that should get them closer.

    • Concupiscence
    • 7 years ago

    Doesn’t look like Fermi’s going to see Vulkan support at all, sadly – word from Nvidia suggests they’re keeping it to Kepler and Maxwell.

    • Concupiscence
    • 7 years ago

    Your last point would not surprise me at all… I’ve suspected for a while that HLSL->GLSL conversion may be a big part of the performance discrepancy between Serious Sam 3’s Direct3D renderer and its OpenGL support on other platforms. Very insightful – thank you for sharing.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    At this stage there are major optimizations that need to be done to get both Vulkan and the games using Vulkan up to speed.

    Another vital issue is the shader programs: DX11/12 both use the HLSL shader language while Vulkan uses the GLSL from OpenGL. The shaders themselves actually aren’t all that different from the old APIs to the new APIs, it’s more the infrastructure around the shaders that has changed.

    A major part of graphics performance comes down to the shaders, and if Talos is just using a wrapper that converts HLSL shaders over to GLSL (they do exist) then the game runs, but there is probably a lot of performance being left on the floor compared to hand-tuned and optimized GLSL shaders.

    • tipoo
    • 7 years ago

    Some performance tests

    [url<]http://fs5.directupload.net/images/160216/mpfbzrmx.png[/url<] Man, OpenGL vs even DX11 was rough, let alone DX12. That chart pretty much mirrors my experience. Native apps on Linux or OSX would lose 30-50% of my performance over a native Windows app under DX. For all people seem to love hating DX, it actually was a good fast API as an end product. Looks like Vulkan hasn't caught even DX11 yet either, but it just came out and will take some polish, and I gather porting it for Talos was just a small team with translation layers.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 7 years ago

    No Fermi support with Nvidia’s current Vulkan drivers.

    The comments at the bottom of the corresponding geforce.com news post are quite funny, people seem to do a terrible job of reading.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see the mature versions of DX11 for Talos principle beating the initial Vulkan beta.

    Even DX12 can be hit or miss for performance vs. DX11 depending upon the configuration.

    Things will become more interesting in a year or two when games are actually optimized for Vulkan.

    • Concupiscence
    • 7 years ago

    Ouch. Looks like there’s room for improvement between the beta Vulkan renderer and the beta AMD driver.

    • wiak
    • 7 years ago

    if nobody have noticed it yet, if you have “The Talos Principle” and have the vulkan driver installed, you can try vulkan out right now

    wrote a little guide/benchmark
    [url<]https://nwgat.ninja/the-talos-prinicple-in-vulkan/[/url<]

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    Well, it has to start somewhere. Not expecting much for a long time.

    • wiak
    • 7 years ago

    yeah hehe :p

    • jensend
    • 7 years ago

    One answer no one else has mentioned: many professional 3d applications will probably be very slow to migrate. Even though there are efforts to sell CAD etc folks on the new API, to a large extent many of these folks (esp. of those who didn’t jump ship to directx long ago) were happy with old OpenGL and IIRC were dragging their feet on big changes.

    • meerkt
    • 7 years ago

    Amusing logo thing. It should be featured in large in the article! 🙂

    I didn’t recognize the dragon or rat, so had to search. So they are: The Utah Teapot, and the Stanford Bunny, Dragon, and Armadillo.

    [url<]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_teapot[/url<] [url<]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_bunny[/url<] [url<]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_dragon[/url<] [url<]http://graphics.stanford.edu/data/3Dscanrep/[/url<]

    • odizzido
    • 7 years ago

    I really hope this catches on. Let’s get out of this vendor locked DX crap. And make Nvidia support adaptive sync as well.

    • Krogoth
    • 7 years ago

    Such API

    Much hype

    Wow

    • Liron
    • 7 years ago

    I’d change that to “small indie engine=opengl, big block buster engine = vulkan.”
    Because when Vulkan gets implemented into UE and Unity, tons of small indie games will be using it without even knowing.

    • brucethemoose
    • 7 years ago

    Be careful downloading the linked AMD Beta driver. From the release notes:

    [quote<] This driver is intended as beta level support for use solely with Vulkan applications and as such some Radeon Software functionality has been removed. This is including and not limited to support for other Graphics APIs, Radeon Settings and other Radeon Software driver features. [/quote<]

    • Tristan
    • 7 years ago

    new revolution for 20% more perf average…

    • DrCR
    • 7 years ago

    Year of the AMD Desktop™

    • Deanjo
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]Maybe AMD will get its act together by later this year[/quote<] Lol, that's an even worse meme than "Year of the Linux Desktop".

    • Deanjo
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]Reason #72 to play games on [s<]Windows[/s<] nVidia.[/quote<] FTFY

    • NTMBK
    • 7 years ago

    Reason #72 to play games on Windows.

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    Yeah, given the AMD “support” we are seeing for Linux — even though AMD was purportedly supposed to have such a huge lead by being the developer of Mantle — it’s not looking good for Polaris under Linux at this stage.

    Maybe AMD will get its act together by later this year, but considering they are now clearly in third-place behind even Intel for Vulkan support, you can’t help but be disappointed.

    • Deanjo
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<] AMD has a beta Windows driver with Vulkan support available for its graphics cards[/quote<] As per usual AMD, late to the party for linux.

    • tipoo
    • 7 years ago

    Don’t need to extract maximum performance, small team, small budget? OpenGL, it holds your hand more

    The opposite of all those? Vulkan, it gives you enough rope to hang yourself with but can provide far better performance.

    • wiak
    • 7 years ago

    yeah, small indie game = opengl, big block buster = vulkan
    just look at mantle compatible games

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    Five years from now: Probably going to be using Vulkan.
    Right now: OpenGL is mature, game engines support it, coders know it.

    • NTMBK
    • 7 years ago

    Because the code is easier to write and maintain for simple cases. Sometimes you don’t want a close-to-the-metal API, you just want to get a few polys on screen with the minimum developer time.

    • wiak
    • 7 years ago

    you should check out amd’s video, its kinda trolls metal 😀
    [url<]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZLzz3OOl3A[/url<]

    • wiak
    • 7 years ago

    AMD Crimson Vulkan flavored driver
    [url<]http://support.amd.com/en-us/kb-articles/Pages/radeon-vulkan-beta.aspx[/url<] amd post about vulkan [url<]https://community.amd.com/community/gaming/blog/2016/02/16/radeon-gpus-are-ready-for-the-vulkan-graphics-api[/url<] vulkan @ gpuopen [url<]http://gpuopen.com/gaming-product/vulkan/[/url<]

    • tipoo
    • 7 years ago

    This is interesting, there’s a team making a Vulkan to Metal bridge, since Apple no longer seems interested

    [url<]https://moltengl.com/metalvk/[/url<]

    • chuckula
    • 7 years ago

    Intel has also posted a link to open-source Vulkan drivers in the Mesa repository: [url<]https://01.org/linuxgraphics/blogs/jekstrand/2016/open-source-vulkan-drivers-intel-hardware[/url<] [s<]As of this writing the tree doesn't look populated quite yet, but it should be available very soon.[/s<] [u<]and it's available![/u<]

    • DrCR
    • 7 years ago

    Why chose OpenGL over Vulkan (besides maybe the casual game market e.g. potentially wanting to port an app to a mobile device that’s OpenGL-only)?

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