Khronos Releases Vulkan 1.3 API, Introduces Developer ‘Profiles’

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The Khronos Group consortium has released version 1.3 of the Vulkan graphical API. With this, the company is introducing Vulkan ‘profiles’, which can incorporate Vulkan’s core specification and relevant extensions for specific platforms.

As part of version 1.3, Khronos adds a total of 23 different extensions to the Vulkan api ‘core’ specification. These include support for dynamic rendering, dynamic states, and an improved sync API. Those functions were already available as extensions, but in Vulkan 1.3 they are part of the specification and therefore no longer optional. In addition, Vulkan 1.3 no longer includes optional features. That was the case with previous releases. In this way, Khronos hopes to counteract ‘fragmentation’.

In addition, the consortium is introducing Vulkan Profiles. That should make it easier to create sets with certain extensions for specific devices and platforms. Each profile contains the core version of the Vulkan API along with a set of extensions. Currently, developers have to select extensions themselves when developing a program, and it is not always clear which extensions work on which platform.

Profiles should simplify the development of applications and games based on the Vulkan API in that area; they are kind of json lists of extensions and functions that work on a platform. For example, Google is the first to introduce a profile: Android Baseline 2021. It contains a feature set that works on ‘a vast majority’ of active Android devices, including devices that are no longer officially supported or do not receive regular driver updates. Developers can use that profile to create Vulkan apps that are supported on many Android devices.

Vulkan 1.3 should again work on devices that support OpenGL ES 3.1. The API is therefore cross-platform and works on a wide range of devices, including PCs, smartphones and tablets, consoles, embedded platforms and more. An SDK for developers based on Vulkan 1.3 will be available in mid-February.

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