Vulkan 1.3 Broadens Cross-Platform Functionality with Developer-Requested Features

The latest release of Vulkan 1.3 simplifies render passes and makes synchronization easier.

A total of 23 of the most often requested Vulkan extensions developed by NVIDIA and other Khronos members are now incorporated into the brand new Vulkan 1.3 core specification. NVIDIA is ready with zero-day drivers for developers to immediately try out this significant new version of the industry’s only modern, cross-platform GPU API on their own systems.

Some of the most significant new core functionality in Vulkan 1.3 includes:

  • Dynamic rendering for simplified API use without subpasses.
  • Dynamic state to reduce the number of pipeline objects needed to avoid hitching.
  • Streamlined management of shader pipeline compilations.
Screenshot of Doom Eternal running an NVIDIA RTX GPU.
Figure 1. Doom Eternal running at 200 FPS with every single game setting on a GeForce 2080ti.

Nsight tools support

To help developers upgrade to Vulkan 1.3 with ease, developer tools have been upgraded to support the new functionality. This gives Vulkan developers the ability to jump into the new standard quickly and have the right tools to investigate and optimize, saving you time and frustration. 

Nsight Graphics is a powerful debugger and profiler that helps you identify API issues quickly using the events view and API inspector. You can inspect Vulkan ray tracing acceleration structures, as well as look at and edit shaders in real time. The advanced shader profiler helps identify where the GPU is not executing shader instructions with full parallelism, so you can make modifications to your shaders for improved performance. 

With the GPU Trace next-generation profiler you can view frames on a timeline with low-level GPU performance metrics. These metrics can help you fine-tune your Vulkan application and take full advantage of all GPU resources.

Nsight Systems is an application performance analysis tool designed to track GPU workloads to their CPU origins, uncovering bottlenecks. A system-wide view helps you analyze GPU workloads, GPU performance metrics, graphics APIs, compute APIs, frame stutter, and correlate them with each other.

“Vulkan is the cornerstone of Adobe’s multi-platform, multi-vendor rendering strategy for its Adobe Substance 3D products. Thanks to the ray tracing extensions that NVIDIA pioneered and contributed to Khronos, Vulkan gives native access to ray tracing hardware, offering exceptional ray tracing performance on supported devices. In addition, Nsight Graphics and Nsight Systems are invaluable tools when it comes to understanding and improving the performance of Vulkan ray tracing applications.” – Francois Beaune, Lead Software Engineer, Photorealistic Rendering at Adobe 3D & Immersive

Nsight Systems is a great place to start as you can verify if you are CPU or GPU limited. Its integration with Nsight Graphics makes for a seamless experience switching between the two as you performance tune the application.

These tools give you the power to harness the NVIDIA GPUs to their maximum potential and deliver high frame rates in games and other intensive Vulkan applications.

Screenshot of NVIDIA Nsight Graphics workflow.
Figure 2. Correlating Vulkan API calls to WDDM queue packets using NVIDIA Nsight Systems.

Vulkan support for NVIDIA RTX SDKs and DLSS

Vulkan developers can maximize the performance of real-time ray tracing in their applications with support from NVIDIA RTX SDKs. With NVIDIA RTX Direct Illumination developers can add millions of dynamic lights to game environments without worrying about performance or resource constraints. NVIDIA RTX Global Illumination provides scalable solutions to compute multibounce indirect lighting. NVIDIA Real-Time Denoiser is a spatio-agnostic, temporal, API agnostic, denoising library that’s designed to work with low ray-per-pixel images, and NVIDIA RTX Memory Utility reduces memory consumption of acceleration structures. 

“Vulkan has empowered us to deliver bleeding-edge performance on our recent DOOM games running idTech. DOOM and DOOM Eternal showcase how Vulkan may be leveraged to achieve state-of-the-art visuals and gameplay at extremely high frame rates across a wide variety of platforms. The flexibility of the Vulkan API allows us to collaborate closely with our hardware partners to meet the creative vision of our games.  This past year, we brought NVIDIA DLSS and Ray Tracing to DOOM Eternal, made possible by extensions developed by NVIDIA.” – Billy Khan, Director of Engine Technology at id Software

Every Vulkan developer can access DLSS upscaling technology on Windows and Linux. NVIDIA also added DLSS support for Vulkan API games on Proton and has DLSS support for both x86 and ARM-based platforms. With NVIDIA DLSS support for Vulkan, Linux gamers can use the dedicated Tensor Cores in their GeForce RTX GPUs to accelerate frame rates in DOOM Eternal, No Man’s Sky, and Wolfenstein: Youngblood.

Vulkan ray tracing debugging workflow.
Figure 3. Vulkan ray tracing debugging is made easy with NVIDIA Nsight Graphics.

Supporting new Vulkan functionality

NVIDIA ships Vulkan across a breadth of products and is deeply engaged in driving Vulkan’s evolution. In addition to supporting the Khronos Group as President, NVIDIA has chair positions in the Vulkan ray tracing, machine learning, and portability subgroups. 

NVIDIA is often the first to spearhead the development of new Vulkan functionality. This includes the “VKRay” vendor extension, the only current implementation of Vulkan Mesh Shaders. Along with the first implementation of the new Vulkan Video extensions and the NVIDIA Cooperative Matrix Vulkan extension, which exposes Tensor Cores for inferencing acceleration. 

Learn more about Vulkan 1.3. >>

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