Vulkan 1.2 Arrives With An Eye On Greater Performance, Better Compatibility With Other 3D APIs On Top

Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 15 January 2020. Page 1 of 1. 8 Comments

Coming up next month already will mark four years since the release of Vulkan 1.0 but for today is an early surprise... Vulkan 1.2! The Khronos Group has prepared Vulkan 1.2 for release as the newest major update to this graphics and compute API. Several vendors also have Vulkan 1.2 support in tow.

Vulkan 1.2 is advertised as offering improved performance, better visual quality, and development improvements. Though there isn't actually anything too fundamentally new with Vulkan 1.2 as it's mostly about formalizing many Vulkan extensions that were introduced in Vulkan 1.1 point releases and mandating the new SPIR-V 1.5 IR.

Vulkan 1.2 shifts 23 extensions that were already introduced now into being part of the core API. Among the extensions now part of Vulkan 1.2 core are timeline semaphores, buffer device address, descriptor indexing, host query reset, driver properties, shader float controls, the Vulkan Memory Model is included but optional, and many others.

There are also a number of bits that are part of Vulkan 1.2 that were previously introduced in helping efforts like DXVK and the numerous other projects mapping Direct3D and other APIs (OpenGL, etc) onto Vulkan. Some of those include the uniform buffer standard layout, scalar block layout, separate stencil usage, and the various SPIR-V 1.4/1.5 additions for better matching Direct3D HLSL semantics.

NVIDIA is first out of the date today with an official Vulkan 1.2 driver while AMD and Intel should be quickly following suit. With Vulkan 1.2 mostly about promoting existing functionality, no new hardware requirements are imposed by the updated specification and all existing Vulkan implementations can be upgraded for Vulkan 1.2.

Having no big surprises out of Vulkan 1.2 is part of The Khronos Group's intent with first routing new functionality through extensions in point releases in order to garner greater developer feedback from all parties involved. Looking ahead though there is a lot on the table past Vulkan 1.2. Items still being evaluated by the Vulkan Working Group include machine learning, more ray-tracing beyond the NVIDIA extension previously introduced, video encode/decode, variable rate shading, and mesh shaders. Vulkan video encode/decode was one of the items I asked about with recall it previously being on the table for 2020 -- it's still in the works but nothing new to share today.

Learn more about Vulkan 1.2 at

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via