Unity engine adds Vulkan support for a big performance boost

The latest beta of the Unity game engine is now available. Version 5.6 packs some interesting goodies: support for the Vulkan API and Google Daydream VR, in addition to a host of more fine-grained technical features. Vulkan support is the headlining feature, and Unity claims developers can get "a rendering performance improvement out-of-the-box up to 60%" without getting into the nitty-gritty details of the Vulkan API. Unity's Vulkan support is cross-platform, too. The beta version currently running on Windows, Linux, and Android. The company says Samsung's Tizen OS will also be supported in the final release. We're sure at least two people on Earth are excited about that last bit. 

Unity says that Vulkan speeds things up through more efficient use of multi-core CPUs and reduced driver overhead. Adding support for Vulkan to existing titles is likely feasible but almost certainly up to individual developers. However, even if Vulkan support is limited to future Unity-based titles, this move should still offer a significant boost to the adoption of the new graphics API.

The company's blog post details a host of other additions to the game engine, including support for Google's Cardboard and Daydream VR platforms, Facebook Gameroom, and more developer-targeted features. The Unity 5.6 beta release notes can be found here.

Comments closed
    • ptsant
    • 3 years ago

    Everyone knows there are maybe 4-5 major game engines (unreal, id tech, frostbite etc) that together concern 90% of AAA titles. Unity is a relatively minor player but does have significant popularity in indy titles or games with a smaller budget.

    When Vulkan/DX12 support is integrated with these engines, the benefits will quickly be extended to many games. Let’s see some benchmarks…

      • psuedonymous
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<]"When Vulkan/DX12 support is integrated with these engines, the benefits will quickly be extended to many games."[/quote<] Don't forget that Vulkan and DX12 are not magic. To actually improve game performance actually requires dedicated optimisation that the APIs enable. They provide the tools to developers to take more advantage of specific architectures through optimisation, but to actually take advantage of that in practice requires skill and effort (and in-depth knowledge of specific architectural quirks).

    • lycium
    • 3 years ago

    At the risk of more downvotes (at least it was voted back up in that other thread), another error:

    “The beta version currently running on Windows, Linux, and Android.”

    Should I be applying for an editing role? Every article I read on TR (not many these days unfortunately) has an error or two.

      • Firestarter
      • 3 years ago

      you could use email instead of the comments, less downvotes that way

        • lycium
        • 3 years ago

        * Fewer downvotes

        Okok, sorry, I’ll stop.

          • DZDragonLord
          • 3 years ago

          If you’re going to be a grammar nazi then at least use commas correctly.

    • synthtel2
    • 3 years ago

    Unity has a lot of performance problems they should be fixing before worrying about stuff like this. It’s not a bad feature, but I have a feeling they did it because “look! features!” rather than because it was actually the most effective way for them to improve performance. (I’m very pro-Vulkan, FWIW, but krogothed by Unity.)

      • Wonders
      • 3 years ago

      Although certainly not the most effective way in absolute terms, likely the most effective in terms of perf / man-month.

        • synthtel2
        • 3 years ago

        Debatable. If they were actually getting +60% regularly, you’d be right, no question. Knowing a bit about the rest of Unity, I’d be surprised if the average game on the average system will see even a quarter of that.

      • BurntMyBacon
      • 3 years ago

      [quote=”synthtel2″<](I'm very pro-Vulkan, FWIW, but krogothed by Unity.)[/quote<] [i<]I retract my former possibly, but not intentionally, out of line, offensive, and/or idiotic statement. I vow hence forth to let Krogoth be unimpressed on his own (whether joking or otherwise).[/i<]

    • BerserkBen
    • 3 years ago

    It’s only logical that Unity would require Vulkan support!

    • odizzido
    • 3 years ago

    I am glad vulkan got some love here. I am always pleased when MS’s iron grip on the PC market weakens. One day I hope we have a real choice of gaming OS.

    • Firestarter
    • 3 years ago

    so what’s the Vulkan vs DX12 score up to now? So far I’ve played 2 games where DX12 was implemented but DX11 was still better (BF1, Tomb Raider), and one game where Vulkan massively improved performance (DOOM)

    • Kretschmer
    • 3 years ago

    From what I remember (possibly outdated), Vulkan Doom4 did not work with FreeSync. Is this an issue across the API?

      • BurntMyBacon
      • 3 years ago

      Legitimate concern.
      Properly noted as based on recollection.
      Admittedly, possibly outdated.
      Question posed to someone presumably with more information on the subject.
      No name calling, disrespect, fear mongering, sales pitches, etc.

      No answer to the question.
      Unexplained(undeserved?) downvote.

      I upvoted for no other reason than to restore neutrality to this post. If the downvoter would have stepped up and informed Kretchmer of the error of the post, I may have left well enough alone.

        • chuckula
        • 3 years ago

        I didn’t downvote (or upvote) the original post.

        But I downvoted this post because I don’t like internal mental processes reproduced as posts.

          • BurntMyBacon
          • 3 years ago

          Fair enough.
          I was pointing out that random downvotes for non-obvious reason and with no explanation do little to answer the question at hand (still unanswered) or to enhance the quality of the OPs posts.
          I do, however, thank you for actually providing feedback with your downvote. I’ll try to be more direct and refrain from posting internal monologue from now on.

            • LostCat
            • 3 years ago

            I think once I downed by accident. Touchscreen or something. Eh.

    • tipoo
    • 3 years ago

    I’m not putting complete faith in this shoring up performance for a lot of the indie games that use Unity. The problem with a lot of Unity titles is just that their customers are often very small shops with little room for optimization, and we’ve seen from Vulkan and DX12 that it’s really just handing developers a lot of rope, if you make good use of it it goes well, but you can also make things worse than a more managed API.

      • UberGerbil
      • 3 years ago

      That’s the point of a game engine, though: the people who really know what they’re doing write the engine, so there’s less rope handed to the higher levels that use it. There’s still opportunity for things to go sideways, but an engine is packaged expertise that less-capable developers can leverage without having those skills themselves.

      All the unimpressive results we’ve seen from Vulkan/DX12 so far are exactly what you expect to get when you try to hack in a new API to knock off a few low-hanging fruit without taking the time to re-architect things from the ground up for an API model dependent on fundamentally different assumptions. And there’s a reason we haven’t seen anything but that kind of hack before now: a re-architecture takes time.

      That said, without reviewing the Unity developer docs I don’t know how much rope it passes along to the higher levels, so I don’t know how much opportunity there is for less-deft users of Unity to screw things up. But this is really the first chance for those kinds of developers to build something with Vulkan that [i<]doesn't[/i<] screw those things up. The [i<]real[/i<] Vulkan ports begin now.

    • DPete27
    • 3 years ago

    I liked Assassin’s Creed Unity!!

      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 years ago

      I think you’re all by yourself on that one.

        • Pwnstar
        • 3 years ago

        Two people upvoted him.

          • Shobai
          • 3 years ago

          And apparently someone else brought balance?

    • chuckula
    • 3 years ago

    It’s good to see these developers getting their Vulkan acts together.

    Are there any Vulkan demos based on the new engine out there to try?

      • Ninjitsu
      • 3 years ago

      Talos Principle? Or was that DX12?

    • LostCat
    • 3 years ago

    Two people? That must be more than like Unity! (I kid.) Anyway, good times.

    • smilingcrow
    • 3 years ago

    So many promising stories and press releases about AMD this last month or so.
    Those who bought stock near the bottom and are still holding must be happy.
    Good to see them back in the saddle.

      • chuckula
      • 3 years ago

      Here’s a post that just as relevant to this story about Unity: I’m going to eat a sandwich later.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 3 years ago

        I might make a quesadilla. I’ve got leftover chicken taco meat and cheese, and some soft tortillas.

          • chuckula
          • 3 years ago

          That sounds pretty awesome.

            • derFunkenstein
            • 3 years ago

            Indeed it was.

        • Shobai
        • 3 years ago

        Breakfast time here, so I made my wife and myself omelettes – delicious!

        [spelling…]

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