NVIDIA Releases Beta Driver With Khronos Vulkan Ray Tracing Support

Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA on 23 November 2020 at 09:54 AM EST. 9 Comments
While NVIDIA has supported its own vendor-specific Vulkan ray-tracing extension on Windows and Linux since the GeForce RTX GPUs originally debuted, they are moving quick to support the Khronos ray-tracing extensions for Vulkan given the industry adoption and games coming to market likely opting for using the KHR version.

This morning with Vulkan 1.2.162 the Vulkan KHR ray-tracing extensions were made official after being out in provisional form since earlier this year. NVIDIA has now released beta drivers for Windows and Linux that support these finalized versions.

It's not too surprising since the KHR version is quite similar to the prior NVIDIA version that served as the starting point. There has even been talk of possibly creating a translation layer so existing games/software making use of VK_NV_ray_tracing could leverage the now-official Khronos ray-tracing support across vendors. But at this time no translation path exists. The Vulkan ray-tracing implementation was also engineered with Direct3D 12's DXR ray-tracing support in mind to help ease the path of going from DXR to Vulkan ray-tracing.

In any case NVIDIA is out today with their Vulkan beta driver for Windows and Linux with this support. That makes NVIDIA first to delivering a Linux driver with this official Vulkan ray-tracing. Intel is working on their own patches for providing these extensions to their Intel ANV open-source driver within Mesa. We've seen prep work in prior weeks while it won't be too surprising if they drop the rest of their patches soon. The question that remains now is how long until the likes of AMDVLK and RADV have ray-tracing support working for the Radeon RX 6000 series on Linux.

After the earlier article today, The Khronos Group also published a blog post with more details on this firmed up ray-tracing support.
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