No, we’re not talking about Spock, although if you’re not well versed into your PC gaming jargon the rest below might sound like something you’ll be subjected to if stuck in a room with a Trekkie. Way back when, AMD was developing a little API known as Mantle (which they’re still using in-house), which sadly didn’t make the impact it was meant to before DirectX 12. From its ashes development on Vulkan began – another take on a low-level API that wasn’t going to be as restricted as Microsoft’s API.
And yesterday it finally launched for both AMD and Nvidia cards, to a shower of support from multiple studios with games already out and about using the new API.
But just what is Vulkan 1.0? A lot like DirectX 12, the Vulkan API allows for low-level access to graphical commands of the GPU, allowing for a much greater deal of control and optimization on the development side of things. The API is able to minimize driver overhead on applications and allow multi-threading processes on a range of graphical hardware, greatly improving performance across the board of existing cards.
Or at least that’s the idea – the API still needs to be well implemented by studios into their games for it to work, and only a handful out right now make use of Vulkan 1.0. The Talos Principle is just one of them.
Vulkan is also an alluring toolset for the boom of open-world games, with the API making full use of multi-threading in multi-core CPUs for maximum computational output. That means those hyper-threads on an 8-core Intel processor will actually be put to use this time (the reality is that they’re hardly used at all), which also allows for more detailed and more reactive open-worlds in games.
Even better is that fact that Vulkan as it is isn’t restricted by hardware, with both AMD and Nvidia already releasing drivers for the API to work on a range of their cards. With Nvidia in particular, all Kepler and Maxwell cards will support the API, along with future architecture Pascal.
Valve’s Gabe Newell was just one of the industry leaders on hand to applaud the adoption of Vulkan.
We are extremely pleased at the industry’s rapid execution on the Vulkan API initiative. Due to Vulkan’s cross platform availability, high performance and healthy open source ecosystem, we expect to see rapid uptake by software developers, far exceeding the adoption of similar APIs which are limited to specific operating systems,”
You can expect to see Vulkan supported in a lot more games in the future, especially if the performance gains start greatly surpassing that of DirectX 11. This could be the intermediary solution to DirectX 12 adoption, and possibly something even greater in the future.
Last Updated: February 17, 2016