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Khronos Vulkan 1.3 Spec Out—Successful Graphics API Roadmap

Vulkan 1.3 spec is now available with immediate driver support from GPU makers, plus public Vulkan Road Map and Profiles.

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The Khronos Group, an open consortium of industry-leading companies creating advanced interoperability standards, today announced the latest updates to the Vulkan cross-platform 3D graphics API and ecosystem.

With the new 1.3 specifications also comes the Vulkan Public Roadmap and Profiles, all of which will boost and accelerate the widespread adoption of the Vulkan API across computerized ecosystems from mobile to workstation and cloud.

Announcement Details

The new announcement in detail includes the following information:

  • Vulkan 1.3 Specification — new spec is released and mandates proven, developer-requested extensions to make that functionality consistently available across all supported platforms.
  • Vulkan Public Roadmap — the Vulkan Working Group is developing a public roadmap that will provide guidance on when working with more advanced Vulkan functionality will be supported. The Vulkan Roadmap 2022 milestones for mid-to-high-end hardware defines features beyond Vulkan 1.3—items that will become available starting this year.
  • Vulkan Profiles — will be introduced with tooling in February 2022, 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 Roadmap

Vulkan 1.3 has an expanded core version of the specification that includes carefully selected extensions requested by the developer community. These include:

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.

Vulkan 1.3 spec out.

Khronos Group releases Vulkan 1.3 spec and public roadmap with profiles support.

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.

Vulkan Profiles

Vulkan 1.3 now supports a profile mechanism whereby a specific set of API capabilities, including core plus required extensions, defines the features and formats supported for that profile.

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.

Reducing Fragmentation

“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,” said Tom Olson, Vulkan Working Group Chair and Distinguished Engineer at ARM. “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.”

The Vulkan Working Group welcomes feedback on GitHub about Vulkan 1.3 and the new approach to providing roadmap information. Developers are invited to register for a free Vulkanised Webinar on February 1, 2022, that will provide more detail on today’s announcement, and are welcome to join the Vulkan 1.3 Discord channel.

Vulkan Industry Support

Vulkan’s support across the industry continues to strengthen. Intel, AMD, NVIDIA all support the Vulkan API and its industry objectives. ARM and Imagination are also key silicon-side vendors who support Vulkan.

“AMD is pleased to announce 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,” said Andrej Zdravkovic, Senior Vice President, Software Development, AMD. “AMD Radeon Software beta drivers with this support are available for developers today, with support in the final drivers expected in the next few months.”

“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, said Dwight Diercks, senior vice president of software engineering, NVIDIA. “NVIDIA has also prepared conformant Vulkan 1.3 drivers for our Jetson embedded computing platform. 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.”

Architosh Analysis and Commentary

Architosh will be providing more information about Vulkan 1.3 and Vulkan in professional markets in a separate upcoming feature article. That feature will discuss Autodesk and Adobe’s utilization of Vulkan technologies as well as cover the finer points about Vulkan 1.3 from my discussion with Neil Trevett, president of the Khronos Group and vice president at NVIDIA. 

Interested readers can read (and download) the Vulkan 1.3 and Roadmap 2022 deep dive blog post here. NVIDIA also has a blog post on Vulkan here

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