The Khronos Group has released the Vulkan 1.2 specification for GPU acceleration.
This release integrates 23 extensions into the core Vulkan API, bringing developer-requested access to new hardware functionality, improved application performance, and enhanced API usability. Multiple GPU vendors have certified conformant implementations, and significant open source tooling is expected during January 2020.
Vulkan is shipping new functionality as extensions, and then consolidating extensions that receive positive developer feedback into a unified core API specification. Selected API features are made optional to enable market-focused implementations. Many Vulkan 1.2 features were requested by developers to meet the needs in their engines and applications, including: timeline semaphores for easily managed synchronization; a formal memory model to precisely define the semantics of synchronization and memory operations in different threads; descriptor indexing to enable reuse of descriptor layouts by multiple shaders; deeper support for shaders written in HLSL, and more.
“Vulkan 1.2 brings together nearly two dozen high-priority features developed over the past two years into one, unified core Vulkan standard, setting a cutting-edge bar for functionality in the industry’s only open GPU API for cross-platform 3D and compute acceleration,” said Tom Olson, engineer at Arm, and Vulkan working group chair.
Khronos and the Vulkan community will support Vulkan 1.2 in a wide range of open source compilers, tools, and debuggers by the end of January 2020. This includes the RenderDoc frame capture and debugging tool, the Vulkan conformance test suite, and the Vulkan SDK with support for both the ‘GPU Assisted’ and ‘Best Practices’ validation layers.
All GPUs that support previous versions of Vulkan are capable of supporting Vulkan 1.2, ensuring its widespread availability. As of today, five GPU vendors have Vulkan 1.2 implementations passing the Khronos conformance tests: AMD, Arm, Imagination Technologies, Intel, NVIDIA, plus the open-source Mesa RADV driver for AMD.
Vulkan is supported in a diverse range of devices from Windows and Linux PCs, consoles, and the cloud, to mobile phones and embedded platforms, including the addition of Google’s Stadia in 2019.