The Khronos Group has renamed the api previously known as Next Generation OpenGL, or glNext, to Vulkan. In addition, the organization has provided more details about the cross-platform API, which will provide low-level access to hardware.
The Khronos Group thought it was time for a completely different name because a lot has changed since OpenGL was launched twenty years ago. GPUs have changed since then and are now used in many more devices and even means of transport. With Vulkan, the organization wants to offer a single API again, regardless of operating system or platform. With OpenGL there was another ES variant for mobile, but with Vulkan that will not be the case. The successor to OpenGL should therefore offer a single API for mobile, desktop, embedded and console.
The most important innovation is the ability for developers to give applications direct access to the deeper layers of the graphics hardware. This should reduce the overhead of draw calls. In addition, the efficiency of multithreaded processing of tasks has improved: threads will soon be able to construct command buffers in parallel. The application is then responsible for managing and synchronizing the threads.
Finally, the new standard should eliminate driver overhead and provide a layered architecture. Among other things, Khronos points to the possibility of adding validation and debugging layers during development.
The programming language frontend for Vulkan will be SPIR-V and the same will be true for OpenCL 2.1. Khronos is developing an OpenCL C++ to SPIR-V compiler. At Vulkan, however, the group will initially come with a GLSL-SPIR-V compiler, although additional languages such as C++ must be added there too.
The Vulkan specification is not yet finished but should be released before the end of the year. The Khronos Group has released the specifications for SPIR-V and OpenCL 2.1.