Khronos releases Vulkan 1.0 open graphics specification


Khronos has released Vulkan 1.0, the next generation open graphics API, and a Vulkan SDK for Windows and Linux is now available from LunarG.

Khronos is an industry consortium which creates open graphics standards, including OpenGL and WebGL. Vulkan was announced in March 2015 and represents the next generation after OpenGL, though Khronos is keen to emphasise that OpenGL, and the cut-down OpenGL ES designed for mobile and embedded use, remain in active development.

Today's release includes version 1.0 of the specification, LunarG's SDK which has been sponsored by Valve Corporation, open source conformance tests, and a sample application. Croteam's Talos Principle, running on Steam, is available in a beta version that uses the Vulkan API.

Vulkan has wide support from GPU vendors. AMD has announced a beta of its Radeon software driver which supports the Vulkan API. Intel is offering "industry-certified drivers for three generations of Intel graphics platforms, with more to come," according to VP Imad Sousou. NVIDIA has Vulkan drivers for Windows, Linux and Android available from today. Imagination has early-access Linux drivers for its PowerVR GPU and is promising "Vulkan support extended to all our tools in the very near future". Qualcomm has announced Vulkan drivers for Android 6 for its Adreno 530 and 4xx GPUs, and ARM also has drivers in progress. Google is adding Vulkan support to the Android SDK.

Vulkan is not an update of OpenGL, but takes a different approach, allowing more direct access to GPU hardware and giving developers the ability to create and manage multiple threads running on GPU cores. This enables lower latency and better performance, though porting from OpenGL is not straightforward and in some respects the Vulkan API is more challenging for developers.