The Vulkan API Is Now Five Years Old And Enjoying Phenomenal Success
Written by Michael Larabel in Vulkan on 16 February 2021 at 12:33 PM EST. 17 Comments
VULKAN --
Today marks five years since the announcement of Vulkan 1.0. Over the past five years we have seen incredible adoption of this high performance graphics API across multiple platforms, open-source Vulkan drivers that are kept up to date well with the latest spec revisions, exciting new extensions, and the spec continues to receive new extensions and revisions on an almost bi-weekly basis.

It was 16 February 2016 that Vulkan 1.0 was announced with the initial game of The Talos Principle running atop Vulkan and having an open-source Vulkan driver from Intel on Linux systems. Now in 2021 the Intel "ANV" Vulkan driver remains in great shape, RADV and AMDVLK are both advancing as open-source Radeon Vulkan drivers, there is Freedreno TURNIP (Qualcomm Adreno), V3DV, and other open-source Vulkan drivers out there plus the closed-source Vulkan drivers from all the rest of the players.

In the five years we have also seen incredible adoption of Vulkan by more games / game engines, translation layers implementing OpenGL / Direct3D and more atop Vulkan, and overall a very robust and growing ecosystem around Vulkan. The public Vulkan Conformance Test Suite (CTS) continues to be maintained well for ensuring good driver coverage and the tooling and resources around Vulkan are also in phenomenal shape.

In marking five years of Vulkan, here is a look back at the most popular Vulkan news stories on Phoronix:

A NVIDIA Engineer In His Spare Time Wrote A Vulkan Driver That Works On Older Raspberry Pi
The Raspberry Pi 1 through Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ and even the Raspberry Pi Zero can now see Vulkan support via a new unofficial "RPi-VK-Driver" that is offering even better performance than the Broadcom OpenGL driver.

Intel's Vulkan Linux Driver Gets ~30% Performance Boost, Now Faster Than OpenGL
With our past Intel Vulkan benchmarks the Vulkan driver was slower than the mature OpenGL driver but this is about to change with an important patch-set published today: a big performance boost is in store.

Some Early Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu Linux Vulkan Tests With NVIDIA Graphics
While waiting to test Ubuntu Bash on Windows, I decided to run some (manual) tests of Vulkan on Windows compared to some recent Ubuntu Linux figures with different NVIDIA graphics cards.

Valve Developed An Intel Linux Vulkan GPU Driver
For helping out ISVs and game developers test out their initial Vulkan code, they developed their own Intel Vulkan GPU graphics driver for Linux that they intend to open-source.

Valve Is Working On Another Extension To Help In Direct3D-Over-Vulkan
Valve's open-source developers responsible for DXVK and VKD3D-Proton are working on a new Vulkan extension to help in their porting/layering effort of Direct3D on top of the Vulkan API.

Direct3D 11 vs. OpenGL vs. Vulkan Radeon Benchmarks On Windows & Linux
After making the Direct3D 11 vs. Vulkan vs. OpenGL benchmarks available to Phoronix Premium subscribers this weekend, these results are now available to everyone. Enjoy.

EA SEED's Halcyon R&D Engine Experimenting With Vulkan & Linux Support
Halcyon is a research and development engine being built by Electronic Arts' SEED group (Search for Extraordinary Experiences Division). While previously they talked up Microsoft DirectX ray-tracing and have been experimenting with it, they have also begun work on a Vulkan back-end for Halcyon that also includes Linux support.

LibreOffice 7.0 Is The Version Now In Development With Its Skia + Vulkan Support
LibreOffice 6.4 is set to be released in the coming days while succeeding that will now be LibreOffice 7.0.

Intel Vulkan Linux Driver Lands Color Compression Support For Skylake
It's been another busy day in Mesa Git for Intel's "ANV" Vulkan open-source Linux driver.

There's A New Libre GPU Effort Building On RISC-V, Rust, LLVM & Vulkan
Over the past decade and a half of covering the Linux graphics scene, there have been many attempts at providing a fully open-source GPU (or even just display adapter) down to the hardware level, but none of them have really panned out from Project VGA to other FPGA designs. There's a new very ambitious project trying to create a "libre 3D GPU" built atop RISC-V, leveraging Rust and LLVM on the software side, and would also support Vulkan.

Apple Rejects iOS App For Using MoltenVK Vulkan, Alleged Non-Public API
Back in February MoltenVK was open-sourced as part of The Khronos Group and Valve working harder to get Vulkan working on macOS/iOS by mapping it through to using Apple's Metal Graphics/Compute API. The most notable user of MoltenVK on macOS to date is the Vulkan Dota 2 on Mac, but for those looking to use this Vulkan-to-Metal framework on iOS, it looks like Apple might be clamping down.

AMD's Vulkan Driver Will Only Work With The AMDGPU Kernel Driver
I've just received confirmation from AMD that their forthcoming Vulkan driver will only work with the AMDGPU DRM kernel driver. This means that unless this AMDGPU kernel driver is extended to support pre-VI hardware, only the very latest AMD GPUs on Linux will work with Khronos' next-generation API.

Orbital: A PlayStation 4 Emulator That Is Emulating The PS4's AMD GPU Using Vulkan
Orbital is an open-source project providing a virtualization-based PlayStation 4 emulator that is still in its early stages but what interests us is its technical details including the use of Vulkan/SPIR-V.

Early Radeon Vulkan Windows vs. AMDGPU PRO Linux Benchmarks
On Friday I posted Some Early Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu Linux Vulkan Tests With NVIDIA Graphics while today the tables have turned to show The Talos Principle on Windows 10 and Ubuntu 16.04 Linux under AMD Radeon graphics.

Initial Vulkan Performance On macOS With Dota 2 Is Looking Very Good
Yesterday Valve released Vulkan support for Dota 2 on macOS. Indeed, this first major game relying upon MoltenVK for mapping Vulkan over the Apple Metal drivers is delivering performance gains.

DXVK Is Making Significant Progress In Implementing Direct3D 11 Over Vulkan
The DXVK project that started towards the end of 2017 for implementing Direct3D 11 over Vulkan with a focus on improving the D3D11 Wine support is already beginning to run some titles.

Running The Latest Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu Linux OpenGL/Vulkan Benchmarks
Now that my Linux reviews of the GeForce GTX 1070 and GeForce GTX 1080 have been published, next on my agenda this week are running some fresh Windows vs. Linux graphics benchmarks with these Pascal graphics cards.

CryENGINE Is Planning To Deliver Its Vulkan Support In About Two Months
The middle of October is when Crytek should be publicly rolling out their Vulkan API support in the CryENGINE.

Learning More About The Intel Vulkan Driver, Linux Vulkan Plans
LunarG, the company that's been doing a lot of consulting work for Valve on optimizing Linux graphics drivers, is also the company that Valve paid to develop the Intel Vulkan Linux graphics driver. LunarG has been doing Linux graphics driver development for years with Mesa/Gallium3D and was formed by some of the same former Tungsten Graphics staff. Here's some more information on their Vulkan and SPIR-V adventures.

VK9 - Direct3D-Over-Vulkan - Reaches New Milestones
The VK9 project that's working to implement Direct3D 9 over Vulkan that's been under heavy development the past few months has reached new development milestones.

And the most popular featured articles / benchmarks with Vulkan:

Vulkan 1.0 Released: What You Need To Know About This Cross-Platform, High-Performance Graphics API
Today's the day! It's Vulkan day! After the better part of two years of hard work, Vulkan 1.0 is ready to meet the world! Today The Khronos Group is announcing the release of Vulkan 1.0 with an embargo that just expired. This hard-launch today is met by the public release of the first conformant driver. The first Vulkan-powered game is also in public beta as of today, but the Linux situation as of today isn't entirely exciting for end-users/gamers as most vendors are still baking their Linux support with Windows generally taking priority. However, even ignoring operating system differences, you need to make sure your expectations are realistic before trying to fire up a Vulkan game while giving developers time to learn and design for this new graphics API.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 On Linux: OpenGL, OpenCL, Vulkan Performance
$699 USD is a lot to spend on a graphics card, but damn she is a beauty. Last month NVIDIA launched the GeForce GTX 1080 as the current top-end Pascal card and looked great under Windows while now finally having my hands on the card the past few days I've been putting it through its paces under Ubuntu Linux with the major open APIs of OpenGL, OpenCL, Vulkan, and VDPAU. Not only is the raw performance of the GeForce GTX 1080 on Linux fantastic, but the performance-per-Watt improvements made my jaw drop more than a few times. Here are my initial Linux results of the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Founder's Edition.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 On Linux: Testing With OpenGL, OpenCL, CUDA & Vulkan
If you were amazed by the GeForce GTX 1080 performance under Linux but its ~$699 USD price-tag is too much to handle, the GeForce GTX 1070 is now shipping for $399~449 USD. NVIDIA sent over a GeForce GTX 1070 and I've been putting it through its paces under Linux with a variety of OpenGL, OpenCL, and Vulkan benchmarks along with CUDA and deep learning benchmarks. Here's the first look at the GeForce GTX 1070 performance under Ubuntu Linux.

Ryzen 5 2400G Radeon Vega Linux OpenGL/Vulkan Gaming Benchmarks
Here are our initial performance figures for the Vega graphics found on the newly-released Ryzen 5 2400G "Raven Ridge" APU under Linux and testing both OpenGL and Vulkan graphics benchmarks. CPU tests as well as benchmarks of the Ryzen 3 2200G under Linux are forthcoming on Phoronix.

AMD Radeon RX 580 Linux OpenGL/Vulkan Benchmarks
For those curious if the Radeon RX 580 "Polaris Evolved" graphics card is worthwhile as a Linux gamer, here are the initial Phoronix figures for the RX 580 8GB graphics card that launched yesterday. These initial tests were done with AMDGPU+RadeonSI/RADV under a variety of OpenGL and Vulkan workloads.

MSI GeForce GT 1030: A $70 Passively-Cooled Graphics Card, Decent With OpenGL/Vulkan/OpenCL/VDPAU
If you are looking for a low-profile, passively-cooled graphics card, the GeForce GT 1030 launched last week and MSI is out the door with such a capable graphics card while only costing around $70~80 USD. Here are some Linux OpenGL, Vulkan, OpenCL, and VDPAU video acceleration benchmarks of the MSI GeForce GT 1030 compared to various other Radeon and GeForce graphics cards under Ubuntu.

Dota 2 Vulkan vs. OpenGL Performance Redux
Earlier this week I published some Dota 2 Vulkan vs. OpenGL benchmarks with AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards under Linux. Since then I received some feedback from Valve with regards to Dota 2 on the Source 2 Engine testing along with a better demo to use for benchmarking and also using the latest Dota 2 Vulkan DLC updates. So here is a fresh look at the OpenGL vs. Vulkan performance for this popular Valve game on an assortment of NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards.

Vulkan vs. OpenGL Performance For Linux Games
It has been a while since last publishing some Linux GPU driver benchmarks focused explicitly on the OpenGL vs. Vulkan performance, but that changed today with a fresh look at the performance between these two Khronos graphics APIs when tested with AMD and NVIDIA hardware on the latest RadeonSI/RADV and NVIDIA Linux graphics drivers.

AMD vs. NVIDIA Vulkan & OpenGL Linux Performance With The New Drivers
Thanks to AMD having released their new GPU-PRO "hybrid" Linux driver a few days ago, there is now Vulkan API support for Radeon GPU owners on Linux. This new AMD Linux driver holds much potential and the closed-source bits are now limited to user-space, among other benefits covered in dozens of Phoronix articles over recent months. With having this new driver in hand plus NVIDIA promoting their Vulkan support to the 364 Linux driver series, it's a great time for some benchmarking. Here are OpenGL and Vulkan atop Ubuntu 16.04 Linux for both AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards.

AMDVLK vs. RADV Radeon Vulkan Driver Performance For Linux Gaming On Ubuntu 19.04
With the continuously evolving RADV Mesa Radeon Vulkan driver and near-weekly updates to the AMD's official "AMDVLK" open-source tree Vulkan driver, how are these competing AMD Vulkan Linux drivers comparing these days? As it's been a while since our last benchmarking comparison of the official AMDVLK driver against the open-source and more common/popular Mesa RADV driver, here are some fresh benchmarks of RADV from Mesa 19.0 on Ubuntu 19.04 as well as 19.1-devel compared to the latest AMDVLK driver code.

Here's to many more years of Vulkan success!
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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 Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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