Vulkan 1.3 Released With Dynamic Rendering In Core, New Roadmap Guidance For Modern GPUs
Written by Michael Larabel in Display Drivers on 25 January 2022. Page 1 of 1. 27 Comments

It's crazy to think that in a few days it will already be six years since the debut of Vulkan 1.0, but here we are. The Khronos Group is continuing on their two year major update regiment for Vulkan and today debuting Vulkan 1.3 with more extensions moved to core as well as introducing a new "profiles" concept.

It's been two years already since Vulkan 1.2 and thus today Vulkan 1.3 is christened. The embargo has now expired and we can tell you about the interesting changes.

If you are a devoted Phoronix reader, Vulkan need not any introduction or background history...

With Vulkan 1.3 besides extension promotions, one of the big changes is on the ecosystem side...

There is still the core specification with Vulkan 1.3, but also a new milestone for extensions in going beyond Vulkan 1.3 for mid to high end mobile/desktop devices. The new road-map guidance will help in focusing support on today's modern, high-end graphics processors. The other aspect of this is the new notion of defined "profiles" that outline specific Vulkan functionality expected of the implementation. The first official profile is Google's Android Baseline 2021 Profile for specific features above Vulkan 1.0 that are expected to be found in the vast majority of Android devices not only for modern devices but many older Android devices end up supporting this profile too.

Vulkan 1.3's core spec continues to be supported on OpenGL ES 3.1 class hardware. Promoted to core are some exciting features previously introduced as extensions such as the much exciting dynamic rendering. The extensions around buffer device addresses, dot products, KHR synchronization2, and other additions are also now part of core. Nearly two dozen extensions have been added to core. The major GPU vendors are expected to begin shipping Vulkan beta drivers today. The open-source Mesa drivers will likely see Vulkan 1.3 exposed in Git in short order given that Vulkan 1.3 is about promoting existing extensions to core and not introducing new extensions itself (also part of the reason for the recent Mesa 22.0 delay).

When it comes to the "Vulkan Roadmap 2022 Milestone", this specifies a set of new functionality beyond Vulkan 1.3 core. All of these additions and heightened requirements are really intended to better exploit the potential of modern GPUs both for desktop and mobile while easing the situation for developers by having a new target baseline if focusing on the mid to high-end.

Vulkan 1.3+ will continue to be supported on older GPUs. It's also great as part of the road-map changes that the Vulkan working group is now beginning to impact silicon design for future GPUs down the road and greater long-term planning regarding the Vulkan API.

The Vulkan Profile Specifications allow for easily outlining specific extensions and other requirements expected of Vulkan implementations -- such as for Google driving more fine-grained expectations of Vulkan drivers on their platform. The JSON-based profiles can be parsed and a forthcoming Vulkan SDK update will make it easy for users/developers to check if their driver/system meets a given profile.

For now the Android Baseline 2021 is there to showcase the new profiles concept while it will be interesting over time to see what other new profiles are published and prove useful.

Long story short, Vulkan 1.3 is out today and it promotes a number of recent extensions to core -- arguably most notably is dynamic rendering. Vulkan major version bumps continue to be focused on graduating existing extensions to core and not about any extensions not previously vetted and found in prior point releases as optional. Meanwhile the Vulkan Roadmap 2022 Milestone is interesting for now pushing Vulkan expectations ahead for modern higher-end GPUs and also the Vulkan Profile Specifications for allowing more tailored Vulkan requirements/recommendations such as for Android ISVs/IHVs.

More details on Vulkan 1.3 will be published today on Khronos.org. NVIDIA will be dropping their Linux/Windows driver momentarily into beta form with Vulkan 1.3, I haven't heard from AMD about any Radeon Software for Linux beta today or not, and for the Mesa drivers expect to see some activity in Git shortly (Update: RADV and Intel Vulkan 1.3 support is ready.).

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via TwitterLinkedIn,> or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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