SIGGRAPH 2018: OpenCL-Next Taking Shape, Vulkan Continues Evolving

Written by Michael Larabel in Software on 13 August 2018. Page 1 of 2. 6 Comments

It's a busy week folks as besides the AMD Threadripper 2 performance embargo expiring, it is also SIGGRAPH 2018 week in Vancouver and as well the start of the Linux 4.19 kernel cycle... No longer under wraps are the Khronos announcements from this annual graphics conference. Continue reading to learn about the latest happenings for the various Khronos industry-standard APIs and efforts like Vulkan and OpenCL-Next.

Khronos highlights for SIGGRAPH 2018 include:

OpenXR, the "Khronos VR" effort that's about driving standards into virtual reality and augmented reality, is finally seeing the first public demonstrations. Epic Games will be showing off a VR demo making use of the OpenXR tentative standard among other demonstrations at SIGGRAPH -- including Microsoft Windows Mixed Reality headsets. The provisional specification of OpenXR 1.0 is still on track for hopefully being out this year. For OpenXR 1.0 is a focus on VR while coming as a later update will be the AR focus.

NNEF 1.0 is being released today. NNEF is the Neural Network Exchange Format that is similar in nature to Facebook's ONNX. NNEF is a specification for driving portability between authoring frameworks and inference engines for neural networks. NNEF will make it easy to go to/from TensorFlow, Caffe2, Theano, CNTK, and other neural network software implementations.

Khronos is also announcing today a formal Education Forum for getting educators (and anyone else) to share resources, training videos, and more around Khronos APIs and technologies. This education portal will be open to anyone for helping with teach resources/efforts around Vulkan, OpenCL, OpenGL, etc in one central location.

On the Vulkan front, they aren't introducing Vulkan 1.2 or any major updates today... But they are confirming a few things. Among the Vulkan improvements they are working on are more FP16/INT8 support, an interface for querying more driver properties/information like their conformance state and other driver-specific details, variable-resolution rendering support, performance counter exposure through Vulkan APIs, memory management improvements, ray-tracing, new synchronization primitives, and more. We'll continue to see Vulkan 1.1 updates with extensions here and there but it won't be until at least next year when seeing the next big Vulkan update.

OpenGL ES remains on the minds of Khronos members. As well, "Web Vulkan" and Vulkan portability are also on the minds of these stakeholders. No announcements today and OpenGL ES is still seeing new work while it will be interesting to see what happens in the future with regards to big OpenGL ES updates or focusing on a "Web Vulkan" or "Vulkan portability" in its place. Similarly, OpenGL SC (Safety Critical) is getting old and still based upon WebGL ES 2.0 and it has yet to be determined whether an OpenGL SC will come based on WebGL ES 3.0 or instead if there will be a safety-critical form of Vulkan.

Now about OpenCL-Next...

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