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Khronos Group Releases Vulkan SDK, Drivers With Official Raytracing Support; Showcases Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Today, The Khronos Group, an open consortium of industry-leading companies creating advanced interoperability standards, announces that LunarG has released the Vulkan Software Development Kit (SDK) version, with full support for the new Vulkan raytracing extensions, including Validation Layers and integration of upgraded GLSL, HLSL and SPIR-V shader tool chains. The Khronos open source Vulkan Samples and Vulkan Guide have been upgraded to illustrate raytracing techniques. Finally, with production drivers shipping from both AMD and NVIDIA, developers are now enabled to easily integrate Vulkan raytracing into their applications.

Khronos released final Vulkan raytracing extensions in November 2020 to seamlessly integrate raytracing functionality alongside Vulkan's rasterization framework, making Vulkan the industry's first open, cross-vendor, cross-platform standard for raytracing acceleration. Vulkan raytracing can be deployed using existing GPU compute or dedicated raytracing cores. The Vulkan SDK now integrates all the components necessary for developers to easily use the new raytracing extensions, such as new shader tool chains, without needing them to be built from multiple repositories, and supports raytracing validation within the SDK validation layers.

Khronos Releases Vulkan Ray Tracing Final Specification

Today, Khronos has released the final versions of the set of Vulkan, GLSL and SPIR-V extension specifications that seamlessly integrate raytracing into the existing Vulkan framework. This is a significant milestone as it is the industry's first open, cross-vendor, cross-platform standard for raytracing acceleration - and can be deployed either using existing GPU compute or dedicated raytracing cores. Vulkan Ray Tracing will be familiar to anyone who has used DirectX Raytracing (DXR) in DirectX 12, but also introduces advanced functionality such as the ability to load balance raytracing setup operations onto the host CPU. Although raytracing will be first deployed on desktop systems, these Vulkan extensions have been designed to enable and encourage raytracing to also be deployed on mobile.

These extensions were initially released as provisional versions in March 2020. Since that time, we have received and incorporated feedback from hardware vendors and software developers, both inside Khronos and from the wider industry, but the overall shape of the API and the functionality provided are fundamentally unchanged. Thank you to all who reviewed and used the provisional extensions and especially those who provided feedback.

Intel Contributes Advanced oneAPI DPC++ Capabilities to the SYCL 2020 Provisional Spec

Today, The Khronos Group, an open consortium of industry-leading companies creating graphics and compute interoperability standards, announced its SYCL 2020 Provisional Specification, for which Intel has made significant contributions through new programming abstractions. These new capabilities accelerate heterogeneous parallel programming for high-performance computing (HPC), machine learning and compute-intensive applications.

"The SYCL 2020 Provisional Specification marks a significant milestone helping improve time-to-performance in programming heterogeneous computing systems through more productive and familiar C++ programming constructs," said Jeff McVeigh, vice president of Datacenter XPU Products and Solutions at Intel Corporation. "Through active collaboration with The Khronos Group, the new specification includes significant features pioneered in oneAPI's Data Parallel C++, such as unified shared memory, group algorithms and sub-groups that were up-streamed to SYCL 2020. Moving forward, Intel's oneAPI toolkits, which include the SYCL-based Intel oneAPI DPC++ Compiler, will deliver productivity and performance for open, cross-architecture programming."

Khronos Group Releases SYCL 2020 Provisional Specification

Today, The Khronos Group, an open consortium of industry-leading companies creating graphics and compute interoperability standards, announces the ratification and public release of the SYCL 2020 Provisional Specification. SYCL is a standard C++ based heterogeneous parallel programming framework for accelerating High Performance Computing (HPC), machine learning, embedded computing, and compute-intensive desktop applications on a wide range of processor architectures, including CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, and AI processors.The SYCL 2020 Provisional Specification is publicly available today to enable feedback from developers and implementers before the eventual specification finalization and release of the SYCL 2020 Adopters Program, which will enable implementers to be officially conformant—tentatively expected by the end of the year.

A royalty-free open standard, SYCL 2020 enables significant programmer productivity through an expressive domain-specific language, compact code, and simplified common patterns, such as Class Template Argument Deduction and Deduction Guides, all while preserving significant backwards compatibility with previous versions. SYCL 2020 is based on C++17 and includes new programming abstractions, such as unified shared memory, reductions, group algorithms, and sub-groups to enable high-performance applications across diverse hardware architectures.

Khronos Group Releases Vulkan Ray Tracing

Today, The Khronos Group, an open consortium of industry-leading companies creating advanced interoperability standards, announces the ratification and public release of the Vulkan Ray Tracing provisional extensions, creating the industry's first open, cross-vendor, cross-platform standard for ray tracing acceleration. Primarily focused on meeting desktop market demand for both real-time and offline rendering, the release of Vulkan Ray Tracing as provisional extensions enables the developer community to provide feedback before the specifications are finalized. Comments and feedback will be collected through the Vulkan GitHub Issues Tracker and Khronos Developer Slack. Developers are also encouraged to share comments with their preferred hardware vendors. The specifications are available today on the Vulkan Registry.

Ray tracing is a rendering technique that realistically simulates how light rays intersect and interact with scene geometry, materials, and light sources to generate photorealistic imagery. It is widely used for film and other production rendering and is beginning to be practical for real-time applications and games. Vulkan Ray Tracing seamlessly integrates a coherent ray tracing framework into the Vulkan API, enabling a flexible merging of rasterization and ray tracing acceleration. Vulkan Ray Tracing is designed to be hardware agnostic and so can be accelerated on both existing GPU compute and dedicated ray tracing cores if available.
Vulkan ray tracing

Khronos Group Releases Vulkan 1.2

Today, The Khronos Group, an open consortium of industry-leading companies creating advanced interoperability standards, announces the release of the Vulkan 1.2 specification for GPU acceleration. This release integrates 23 proven extensions into the core Vulkan API, bringing significant developer-requested access to new hardware functionality, improved application performance, and enhanced API usability. Multiple GPU vendors have certified conformant implementations, and significant open source tooling is expected during January 2020.

Vulkan continues to evolve by listening to developer needs, shipping new functionality as extensions, and then consolidating extensions that receive positive developer feedback into a unified core API specification. Carefully selected API features are made optional to enable market-focused implementations. Many Vulkan 1.2 features were requested by developers to meet critical needs in their engines and applications, including: timeline semaphores for easily managed synchronization; a formal memory model to precisely define the semantics of synchronization and memory operations in different threads; descriptor indexing to enable reuse of descriptor layouts by multiple shaders; deeper support for shaders written in HLSL, and more.

Khronos Releases OpenXR 0.90 Provisional Specification for High-Performance Access to AR and VR

Today, The Khronos Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies creating advanced acceleration standards, announces the ratification and public release of the OpenXR 0.90 provisional specification. OpenXR is a unifying, royalty-free, open standard that provides high-performance access to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)- collectively known as XR-platforms and devices. The new specification can be found on the Khronos website and is released in provisional form to enable developers and implementers to provide feedback at the OpenXR forum.

The OpenXR 0.90 provisional release specifies a cross-platform Application Programming Interface (API) enabling XR hardware platform vendors to expose the functionality of their runtime systems. By accessing a common set of objects and functions corresponding to application lifecycle, rendering, tracking, frame timing, and input, which are frustratingly different across existing vendor-specific APIs, software developers can run their applications across multiple XR systems with minimal porting effort-significantly reducing industry fragmentation.

Intel Exhorts Developers Towards Vulkan Usage as Graphics API of Choice

Intel, via a Game Dev Developer Zone blog post, took it into its hands to urge game developers towards usage of the industry-prevalent Vulkan API. Some unapologetic puns are thrown in, such as "(...) You might say that Vulkan lets apps live long and prosper", but these are only meant to entertain. And it's well known that Intel has supported the Khronos Group and Vulkan's inception from the beginning, alongside Google. The reasons for this blog post to make it into a front page, however, are twofold.
Vulkan APIs are positioned to become one of the next dominant graphics rendering platforms.

NVIDIA Adapting RTX Ray-tracing to Vulkan API

NVIDIA made big moves to bring a semblance of real-time ray-tracing to the masses, with the new RTX technology, as part of its efforts to replace rasterized rendering, which has dominated 3D graphics for the past three decades. Microsoft has come out with its own extension to DirectX 12, with the new DXR API. NVIDIA is now reportedly working with the Khronos Group to bring RTX to Vulkan.

A new Vulkan extension titled "VK_NV_raytracing" surfaced in tech-documents accessed by Phoronix, which is the company's contribution to a multi-vendor standard for ray-tracing, being developed by the Khronos Group. This extension could expose several NVIDIA RTX features and presets to Vulkan. It also has similar code-structures to DXR, to minimize duplication of effort, or skill-building. NVIDIA will detail its adaptation of RTX to Vulkan further at GTC.

AMD Announces Radeon Rays and Radeon GPU Profiler 1.2 at GDC 2018

AMD announced at GDC widened support for Radeon Rays with Unity Lightmapper. Its open-source, high efficiency, high performance GPU-accelerated ray tracing software helps game developers to achieve higher visual quality and stunningly photorealistic 3D images in real-time. Radeon ProRender now supports real-time GPU acceleration of ray tracing techniques mixed with traditional rasterization-based rendering, to combine the value of ray tracing with the interactivity of rasterization.

For gaming, ray tracing is in its early stages. For professional applications, however, real-time ray tracing is a well-established rendering technique. Today, AMD is announcing ProRender support for real-time GPU acceleration of ray tracing techniques mixed with traditional rasterization based rendering. Now built on Vulkan, ProRender is continuing to enable developers to deliver interactive photorealistic graphics. We are actively engaging with professional developers to make real-time visualization a reality.

Khronos Group Releases the Vulkan 1.1 Specification

The Khronos Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies creating advanced acceleration standards, announces the release of the Vulkan 1.1 and SPIR-V 1.3 specifications. Version 1.1 expands Vulkan's core functionality with developer-requested features, such as subgroup operations, while integrating a wide range of proven extensions from Vulkan 1.0. Khronos will also release full Vulkan 1.1 conformance tests into open source and AMD, Arm, Imagination, Intel Corporation, NVIDIA and Qualcomm have implemented conformant Vulkan 1.1 drivers. Find more information on the Vulkan 1.1 specification and associated tests and tools at Khronos's Vulkan Resource Page.

"With enhanced developer tools, rigorous conformance testing and the public Vulkan Ecosystem Forum, Khronos is delivering on its goal to develop a complete and vibrant Vulkan ecosystem," said Tom Olson, distinguished engineer at Arm, and Vulkan Working Group chair. "Vulkan 1.1 is a response to prioritized industry requests and shows our commitment to delivering a functional roadmap driven by developer needs."

Khronos Group Announces Free and Open-Source MoltenVK for macOS and iOS

A Vulkan-compatible driver for macOS and iOS, MoltenVK, is now available free of charge and open-source. Having invested into its development for more than a year, Khronos Group has sponsored The Brenwill Workshop to donate MoltenVK for inclusion in the Vulkan graphics ecosystem.

We've also continued our efforts with LunarG who is today releasing a corresponding update to deliver macOS support to the Vulkan SDK. Also as a result of that work, Dota 2 will soon be updated to target Vulkan on macOS. It's been almost four years since we started contributing to Vulkan's goal of becoming a cross platform solution. With support for Windows, Linux, and Android crossed off the list, this latest set of updates checks off one of the largest remaining targets, giving developers an easy yet robust way to also target their Vulkan-based engines and titles to run on macOS and iOS. By making the code to MoltenVK freely available and open-source, the goal is to enable developers to bring their games to macOS and iOS with minimal development cost.

Khronos Group Releases NNEF 1.0 Standard for Neural Network Exchange

The Khronos Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies creating advanced acceleration standards, announces the release of the Neural Network Exchange Format (NNEF) 1.0 Provisional Specification for universal exchange of trained neural networks between training frameworks and inference engines. NNEF reduces machine learning deployment fragmentation by enabling a rich mix of neural network training tools and inference engines to be used by applications across a diverse range of devices and platforms. The release of NNEF 1.0 as a provisional specification enables feedback from the industry to be incorporated before the specification is finalized - comments and feedback are welcome on the NNEF GitHub repository.

Khronos Releases OpenGL 4.6 with SPIR-V Support

The Khronos Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies, announces from the SIGGRAPH 2017 Conference the immediate public availability of the OpenGL 4.6 specification. OpenGL 4.6 integrates the functionality of numerous ARB and EXT extensions created by Khronos members AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA into core, including the capability to ingest SPIR-V shaders.

SPIR-V is a Khronos-defined standard intermediate language for parallel compute and graphics, which enables content creators to simplify their shader authoring and management pipelines while providing significant source shading language flexibility. OpenGL 4.6 adds support for ingesting SPIR-V shaders to the core specification, guaranteeing that SPIR-V shaders will be widely supported by OpenGL implementations.

Khronos Group to Merge OpenCL With Vulkan API

In a blog post detailing the release of OpenCL 2.2 with SPIR-V 1.2 integration today, Khronos put in an interesting tidbit, saying that "we are also working to converge with, and leverage, the Khronos Vulkan API - merging advanced graphics and compute into a single API." PC Perspective understandably found this worth further looking into, since as it is phrased, it seems as if OpenCL and Vulkan are going to be slowly developed towards parity (until eventually merging with it.)

Khrono's response to PC Perspective's inquiry was clear enough: "The OpenCL working group has taken the decision to converge its roadmap with Vulkan, and use Vulkan as the basis for the next generation of explicit compute APIs - this also provides the opportunity for the OpenCL roadmap to merge graphics and compute."

VESA Forms Working Group Towards XR Standards

The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has recently announced plans to form a special working group within its ecosystem, whose mission will be to develop standards for XR (eXtended Reality) products and development. XR envelops both VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality), and VESA has apparently had enough of differing vendor implementations. According to VESA, "the lack of standardization is causing compatibility issues between products from different vendors, as well as increasing the complexity and cost of development, ownership and replacement. Lack of compatibility can also create confusion for end users and impede broader acceptance of AR/VR products."

Considering the XR market's value is expected to hit roughly $162 billion dollars by 2020, we can certainly see how "compatibility issues" and "lower acceptance of AR/VR products" could affect what is looking to be an extremely lucrative market. Let's just gloss over the fact (slightly paradoxical, actually) that we're now looking at two different XR standards groups, VESA's newly-announced initiative, and Khrono's OpenXR.

Futuremark Releases 3DMark v2.3.3663 - Adds Vulkan Support

Futuremark has just released a major update to its 3DMark benchmarking suite, adding Vulkan support while simultaneously axing its cousin, Mantle. This means that the API Overhead test now uses a Vulkan path instead of its previous Mantle one, which is sure to lead several enthusiasts into a frenzy of benchmarking under the Khronos's API (which has just recently been announced will offer support for multi-GPU in Windows 10, 8.x, 7, and Linux operating systems.)

Check some of the new features, improvements and fixes on the new version right after the break. You can download this piece of software right here on TPU - just follow the link below.
Download: Futuremark 3DMark + TimeSpy v2.3.3663

Vulkan Multi-GPU Support to be Available in Windows 10, 8.x, 7, and Linux

Vulkan is arguably the API which has garnered the most positive reactions from enthusiasts. Its implementation in Doom, for example, brought about incredible performance improvements in a game that not only looked and played great, but also performed amazingly well. Vulkan's support for other operating systems other than Windows 10 (where Microsoft still has a lot of ground to cover in acquiring enthusiast trust and interest) is one of its greatest selling points, and the API has been gaining ever more traction in the market, with some developers even going so far as to axe DX12 support in favor of Vulkan.

Now, Khronos Group has come ahead and clarified that "(...) the Vulkan multi-GPU specification is very definitely NOT tied to Windows 10. It is possible to implement the Vulkan multi-GPU extension on any desktop OS including Windows 7, 8.X and 10 and Linux." Khronos also goes on to say that they are aware that some developers are already baking Multi-GPU support into their games in various platforms other than Windows 10. These are sure to come as good news - the fact that Vulkan is platform agnostic is great for consumers and developers alike. And maybe this support - which still depends on developers to implement it - will bring about the shot in the arm that multi-GPU implementations sorely need.

Khronos Group Announces OpenXR Initiative - Bridging Virtual Reality

The OpenXR working group - previously known as the Khronos VR Initiative - is creating an open and royalty-free standard for VR and AR applications and devices.

The Problem:
Without a cross-platform standard, VR applications, games and engines must port to each vendors' APIs. In turn, this means that each VR device can only run the apps that have been ported to its SDK. The result is high development costs and confused customers - limiting market growth.

The Solution
The cross-platform VR standard eliminates industry fragmentation by enabling applications to be written once to run on any VR system, and to access VR devices integrated into those VR systems to be used by applications.

Khronos Group Announces Open VR Standards Initiative

After putting in work in the OpenGL, WebGL, and most recently, Vulkan APIs, the technology industry consortium Khronos Group is setting its sights on the VR industry and ecosystems. Their aim: to create a "cross-vendor, royalty-free, open standard" for the VR development community. This move is an effort to prevent the VR system from fragmenting itself towards an eventual collapse, considering the multiple engines to create content, platforms to sell that content through, and a few different hardware options with casuistically different requirements and tool-sets. As a result, for a developer to support SteamVR (OpenVR), Oculus (OVR), and OSVR, it has a lot of work to do, since each platform (with its unique runtime) interfaces with the game engine in a different way. Developers must account for the intricacies of each platform during the development process.

AMD Actively Promoting Vulkan Beyond GPUOpen

Vulkan, the new-generation cross-platform 3D graphics API governed by the people behind OpenGL, the Khronos Group, is gaining in relevance, with Google making it the primary 3D graphics API for Android. AMD said that it's actively promoting the API. Responding to a question by TechPowerUp in its recent Radeon Technology Group (RTG) first anniversary presser, its chief Raja Koduri agreed that the company is actively working with developers to add Vulkan to their productions, and optimize them for Radeon GPUs. This, we believe, could be due to one of many strategic reasons.

First, Vulkan works inherently better on AMD Graphics CoreNext GPU architecture because it's been largely derived from Mantle, a now defunct 3D graphics API by AMD that brings a lot of "close-to-metal" API features that make game consoles more performance-efficient, over to the PC ecosystem. The proof of this pudding is the AAA title and 2016 reboot of the iconic first-person shooter "Doom," in which Radeon GPUs get significant performance boosts switching from the default OpenGL renderer to Vulkan. These boosts aren't as pronounced on NVIDIA GPUs.

NVIDIA Talks Vulkan, Supports it on "Kepler" and "Maxwell" GPUs

NVIDIA talked Vulkan in its latest GeForce blog post, announcing that your GeForce GTX graphics card already supports the "industry forged" API. NVIDIA is offering Vulkan hardware-acceleration on its "Kepler" and "Maxwell" GPU architectures at this time, and on Windows 7 and above; PC Linux, and Android. NVIDIA is all praises for Vulkan's low-latency and high-efficiency pathways, which streamline the process of drawing graphics.

Vulkan makes its big mainstream debut with a major update to "The Talos Principle," by Croteam (the people behind the "Serious Sam" franchise). This update adds a Vulkan renderer to the game, and ships later today. NVIDIA has an driver ready with the Vulkan API, which you can download from here. Maintained by the Khronos Group, Vulkan is a successor to OpenGL, although it's built from the ground up, with a major chunk of its code being contributed by AMD, from its Mantle API.

NVIDIA Coming Around to Vulkan Support

NVIDIA is preparing to add support for Vulkan, the upcoming 3D graphics API by Khronos, and successor to OpenGL, to its feature-set. The company's upcoming GeForce 358.66 series driver will introduce support for Vulkan. What makes matters particularly interesting is the API itself. Vulkan is heavily based on AMD's Mantle API, which the company gracefully retired in favor of DirectX 12, and committed its code to Khronos. The 358 series drivers also reportedly feature function declarations in their CUDA code for upcoming NVIDIA GPU architectures, such as Pascal and Volta.

Valve Announces Link, Source 2, SteamVR, and More at GDC

Valve announces a number of product and technologies at this week's Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. "We continue to see very strong growth in PC Gaming, with Steam growing 50% in the last 12 months," said Gabe Newell, Valve's president. "With these announcements we hope that we are helping build on that momentum."

Steam Machines, Windows PCs, Macs, and Linux PCs will be able to take advantage of a new product announced at GDC called Steam Link. Designed to extend your Steam experience to any room in the house, Steam Link allows you to stream all your Steam content from any PC or Steam Machine on the same home network. Supporting 1080p at 60Hz with low latency, Steam Link will be available this November for $49.99, and available with a Steam Controller for an additional $49.99 in the US (worldwide pricing to be released closer to launch).

Khronos Group Announces Key Advances in OpenGL Ecosystem

The Khronos Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies, today announced growing industry support for the OpenGL family of 3D standards that are advancing the visual experience for more than two billion mobile devices and PCs sold each year. OpenGL, OpenGL ES and WebGL are the world's most widely deployed APIs that between them provide portable access to graphics and compute capabilities across multiple platforms, including Android, iOS, Linux, OS X, Windows and the Web.

OpenGL ES 3.1 Conformant Implementations
In July, the first wave of leading GPU vendors, including ARM, Imagination Technologies, Intel, NVIDIA and Vivante, achieved full conformance with the latest version of OpenGL ES. A conformance submission from Qualcomm is currently under review, with more to follow. The OpenGL ES 3.1 specification was released in March 2014 and provides the most desired features of desktop OpenGL, including GPU Compute shaders, in a standard that is suitable for mobile devices. Khronos launched the OpenGL ES 3.1 Adopters program in June, including a broad set of conformance tests to ensure reliable cross-vendor operation. More information is here.
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