Khronos announces Vulkan 1.3 graphics API specifications

Published: Jan 25th 2022, 14:03 GMT   Comments

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Khronos Strengthens Vulkan Ecosystem with Release of Vulkan 1.3, Public Roadmap and Profiles

Vulkan 1.3 mandates widely supported features into the core standard; the Vulkan Roadmap provides visibility into Vulkan’s future requirements for key markets; Profiles streamline development and deployment of portable applications

Beaverton, OR – January 25, 2022 – Today, The Khronos® Group, an open consortium of industry-leading companies creating advanced interoperability standards, announced the latest updates to Vulkan, the cross-platform 3D graphics API and its ecosystem.

  • The Vulkan® 1.3 specification was released today, incorporating and mandating proven, developer-requested extensions to make that functionality consistently available across all supported platforms.
  • The Vulkan Working Group is developing a public roadmap to provide guidance on when and where more advanced Vulkan functionality will be supported. The Vulkan Roadmap 2022 milestone for mid-to-high-end hardware defines features beyond Vulkan 1.3 that will be available starting this year.
  • Vulkan profiles will be introduced, with tooling, in the February 2022 Vulkan 1.3 SDK to precisely specify, manage and use sets of API capabilities. Profiles will be used to communicate functionality requirements for roadmaps, markets, platforms, and hardware and software developers.

Vulkan 1.3 and Vulkan Roadmap

Vulkan 1.3 incorporates a number of carefully selected extensions requested by the developer community into a new core version of the specification. These include dynamic rendering, additional dynamic state, an improved synchronization API, and a range of other features (see the Vulkan 1.3 and Roadmap blog post for details). Crucially, unlike previous revisions, no features added to Vulkan 1.3 are optional, ensuring their consistent availability in all implementations of this new API version.

As with previous versions of the specification, Vulkan 1.3 is designed to be accelerated on OpenGL® ES 3.1-class hardware, enabling the core API to be supported in a wide range of devices and markets. Many Vulkan devices support functionality beyond the core specifications through optional extensions which individual hardware vendors may choose to support—or not. The Vulkan Roadmap aims to consolidate the support for selected extensions to provide a common functionality baseline in key markets.

Vulkan Roadmap 2022 announced today is the first defined milestone in the Vulkan Roadmap. All Vulkan Working Group hardware vendors actively developing mid-to-high-end devices for smartphone, tablet, laptop, console, and desktop platforms are committed to supporting this milestone, starting with several shipping products in 2022. The milestone requires support for Vulkan 1.3 plus a number of extensions the Working Group considers essential for the target market, including descriptor indexing, fragment shader stores and atomics, subgroup support in fragment shaders, independent blending, sample shading, anisotropic filtering, YCbCr sampling, and scalar block layout for buffer resources. Roadmap 2022 also raises minimum values for many hardware limits, including max image and image array dimensions, max subgroup size, and various limits on how many resources can be accessed per shader stage. See the Vulkan 1.3 and Roadmap blog post for more details.

Vulkan Profiles

The new Vulkan profile mechanism enables the precise specification and management of sets of API capabilities. Each profile specifies a core version of Vulkan plus a set of required extensions, with supported limits, features, and formats. Profiles provide a way to precisely communicate functionality requirements and device capabilities between participants in the Vulkan ecosystem to streamline the development and deployment of portable applications.

Google has developed and released the Android Baseline 2021 Profile to advertise the set of features beyond Vulkan 1.0 that are supported by a large majority of active devices in the Android ecosystem, including devices that are out of support and do not regularly receive driver updates.

The Vulkan Roadmap 2022 Profile will encode the Vulkan roadmap’s first milestone currently documented in the Vulkan 1.3 specification for release with the Vulkan SDK in mid-February.

Khronos tooling will enable developers to generate their own application-specific feature profiles, easily determine whether a device supports a given profile, and enable the features/extensions in a profile at application startup. A beta version of the tooling will be released in mid-February as part of the Vulkan 1.3 SDK, and will include a machine-readable file format for profile definitions, files defining the profiles released to date, a header-only library, and profile simulation support via the new VK_KHRONOS_LAYER_profiles layer.

Vulkan’s Evolution

“In this new phase of Vulkan’s evolution, the Vulkan Working Group is taking significant steps to reduce fragmentation across the ecosystem and increase Vulkan’s value to the industry as a reliable cross-platform GPU API. We continue to expose new hardware features as extensions while improving the Vulkan API with new core versions that are portable to a wide range of devices. And now with the Vulkan Roadmap, we are committing to enhanced transparency and communication to forge industry consensus on baseline functionality Profiles that best serve Vulkan’s key markets,” said Tom Olson, Vulkan Working Group Chair and Distinguished Engineer at Arm.

Industry Support

“AMD is pleased to announce that we expect to support for both Vulkan 1.3 and the Vulkan Roadmap 2022 profile on all AMD Radeon™ RX Vega Series and AMD RDNA™ architecture-enabled graphics cards. AMD Radeon Software beta drivers are available for developers today, with support in the final drivers expected in the next few months. The Vulkan Working Group taking the initiative to standardize hardware features across devices is an important step towards providing consistent support for developers across key markets, and we believe this will ultimately translate to better developer and end-user experiences,” said Andrej Zdravkovic, Senior Vice President, Software Development, AMD.

“The release of the Vulkan 1.3 Specification is a significant milestone. The latest iteration of the Khronos standard brings enhancements to improve the developer experience, including the introduction of Vulkan profiles, making it simpler for developers to understand platform capabilities and target a wider range of devices. Arm is committed to providing developers the tools and technologies to enable the next generation of compelling on-device experiences, and will support Vulkan 1.3 and the Roadmap 2022 profile on our Mali GPUs,” said Geraint North, senior director, Ecosystems and Engineering, Client Line of Business, Arm.

“Vulkan 1.3 and the Roadmap 2022 milestone bring many welcomed quality of life improvements for developers, such as dynamic rendering which eliminates the need for render pass and framebuffer objects and provides a more streamlined approach for rendering. We look forward to making these improvements available on Stadia,” said Hai Nguyen, senior staff technical solutions engineer for Google Stadia.

“Holochip develops light field and AR flight training and simulation technology for the U.S. military and is incorporating new display capabilities into existing NAVAIR training environments. The Vulkan 1.3 spec will enable wide adoption of next-gen display devices. The Vulkan 1.3 spec paves the way for military simulation environments to benefit from the technical advances in the commercial rendering market. These advances will lead to greater effectiveness and cost savings of training and improve the ability of warfighters to safely mitigate risks,” said Robert Batchko, CEO of Holochip Corporation.

“Vulkan’s ability to enable hardware platforms with vastly different form factors and power envelopes means that it is the key API for our highly scalable GPUs, which are used from wearables to mobile, automotive and data center and desktop. Vulkan 1.3’s standardization of different profiles significantly enhances the API’s applicability to such a diverse range of devices and use cases. Vulkan 1.3 is the work of the leaders in the GPU industry, coming together to enable the future of GPUs, and we are thrilled to be a part of that,” said Ploutarchos Galatsopoulos, director of software product management, Imagination Technologies.

LunarG is excited about the new Vulkan Profiles solution. Using this framework, developers can create portable applications that will run across large sets of hardware guaranteed to have the necessary supported features. The Vulkan Profiles API library and Vulkan Profiles Layer, which are delivered with the Vulkan SDK, will allow developers to define, use, and develop Vulkan profiles,” said Karen Ghavam, CEO and engineering director, Christophe Riccio, senior engineer, LunarG Inc.

“As a long-time supporter of Vulkan, NVIDIA is providing immediate full functionality Vulkan 1.3 drivers that support the Roadmap 2022 milestone on both Windows 10 and 11, and Linux, including popular distributions such as Ubuntu, Kylin and RHEL. NVIDIA has also prepared conformant Vulkan 1.3 drivers for our Jetson embedded computing platform,” said Dwight Diercks, senior vice president of software engineering, NVIDIA. “Our Nsight Graphics and Nsight Systems tools have been updated to support Vulkan 1.3, offering a robust environment with deep support for developers to build and optimize Vulkan games and applications.”

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