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Vulkan Officially Released - No Mac Support


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#1 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 09:19 AM

Vulkan 1.0 Officially Released (No Mac Support Mentioned)

The Kronos Group has officially released Vulkan 1.0 to the world. The original release date was planned for end of 2015, but February 2016 isn’t too much of a delay. It has been widely speculated that Apple would support Vulkan, but they are absent from any press releases regarding Vulkan for the past several months. As of now, Vulkan is not supported in OS X. This situation may change over time with future OS X versions.

Vulkan - What’s the Big Deal?
Many readers are probably wondering what’s the big deal with Vulkan. Vulkan 1.0, on its own, doesn’t mark any massive advancement in gaming technologies. However, Vulkan 1.0 marks the beginning of a massive new potential for cross platform games and cross platform performance.

In other words: if Vulkan is successful we will see the majority of games being created using Vulkan and not DirectX. This means that games will be able to be released on all platforms that support Vulkan, instead of just Windows (since DirectX is locked to Windows). Further, since games are created using Vulkan first, and do not have to be ported from DirectX, games will all experience the same performance across different platforms. When games have to be ported from DirectX to OpenGL, or another API, there is almost always a performance hit.

For more reading on this visit our Graphics API article, which talks about Vulkan, Metal, OpenGL and DirectX.

Platforms Supported
OS X is absent from the list of platforms supported by Vulkan 1.0. The following is the full list of platforms that are able to utilize Vulkan 1.0:
  • Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10
  • Linux
  • Android
Supporting Vulkan on those platforms are drivers from the following technical giants:
  • Intel (Linux driver)
  • Nvidia (Windows and Linux driver)
  • Qualcomm (Android)
  • AMD (beta driver for Windows)
Games/Developer Support
The following games/developers have pledged support for Vulkan:
  • Valve: bringing Vulkan support to their Source Engine 2, which means that all modern Valve games will support Vulkan (DotA 2, CS:GO, etc.)
  • Dice: bringing Vulkan support to their Frostbite engine, which is used for games such as Battlefield and Battlefront
  • Unity: bringing Vulkan support to their Unity Engine, meaning that future games created with Unity will be able to support Vulkan
  • Epic: bringing Vulkan support to Unreal Engine 4, one of the most popular game engines.
Metal and Vulkan - a New Relationship?
Mac gamers, like myself, who read the press releases about Vulkan are likely disappointed with the lack of support from Apple. Vulkan support is not out of the question for OS X, and I’m hoping to see it in future OS X versions, but as of now there is zero news about official support from Apple.
There is one interesting technology that may make running Vulkan games using Metal possible. A company by the name of Molten is bringing a technology called MetalVK to market whose goal is to provide a means for running Vulkan applications in OS X using Metal. Here is their summary of their product:

MetalVK is an implementation of Vulkan that runs on Apple's Metal graphics framework. With MetalVK, you get the performance benefits and added debugging and performance tuning capabilities of the Metal framework on iOS and OS X, while maintaining compliance with an open, industry-standard, next-generation, high-performance graphics API.”


What this technology will do is allow for developers to easily port their Vulkan games to Metal. Unfortunately it will require developers to manually do that, so do not expect widespread support. It remains to be seen what kind of performance impact this will have versus running a game natively using Metal.
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#2 Cougar

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 02:15 PM

MetalVK sounds interesting, and needed, because I am skeptical that Apple will bother implementing Vulkan. Talos Principle just announced Vulkan support, and it'd be cool if it got Metal support too.

#3 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 06:09 PM

That is interesting news. I am inclined to wonder about the persistence of DirectX though given many AAA games start with consoles and are ported to PC after the fact. In the case of titles for XBox which I presume is using some form of DirectX I would expect porting to Windows is easier and less costly. On the other hand for very many titles that does nothing to help with those games being developed for PS4 also as far as I know. There again, where PS4 is not using Vulkan either, all the console ports still have to be done to something and if a publisher is paying for a port to go from XBox to Windows and most likely using DirectX, I'd think they may as well also use DirectX doing the PS4 version to save some effort and cost.

Now, I don't do this stuff for a living and I have not spent any time studying it in any detail either but it would seem to me that a slam dunk which obsoletes DirectX and ushers in a world of perfect cross platform compatibly is not really happening with this although potentially and particularly in the case of PC exclusive titles this would be highly attractive. So my take on this stuff is there seems to be good potential for benefit here but I don't see anything bringing about a complete solution anytime soon myself and I don't see DirectX becoming obsolete on PC and replaced with Vulkan either.

Other than strategy and probably a lot of indies, I think a very large amount of the AAA games originate with consoles and I see that impacting things on the PC side of the fence too. Maybe I am wrong but that is how it appears to me. For any AAA on XBox I think sticking with DirectX on Windows means one less port to do if I am not missing something and that could save a company a lot of money for any complex game.
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#4 macdude22

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 06:18 PM

The upcoming overhauled DirectX 12 has similar modern low-level features but will be Windows specific as normal. DirectX isn't going anywhere. Vulkan is a replacement for OpenGL not DirectX. Multiple graphics APIs will still be the norm for years to come, if not forever.  Hell look at how long developers targeted DirectX 9. What you are going to get in the near future is increased performance on the same hardware over DX11 and OpenGL. And that's a good thing all around.

Remains to be seen how Metal shakes out in all this. Given the slow uptake I am not ultra confident in it being the game changer we all would like it to be.
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#5 Frost

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 07:54 PM

View PostSneaky Snake, on 17 February 2016 - 09:19 AM, said:

  • Nvidia (Windows and Linux driver)

NVIDIA is also implementing Android support, BTW, not just Qualcomm. The next release of Marshmallow is supposed to include Vulkan drivers for the Tegra K1 and Tegra X1 on Android.
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#6 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 09:02 PM

View PostFrost, on 17 February 2016 - 07:54 PM, said:

NVIDIA is also implementing Android support, BTW, not just Qualcomm. The next release of Marshmallow is supposed to include Vulkan drivers for the Tegra K1 and Tegra X1 on Android.

Yes, but I'm only including the officially released drivers in the article though. Which is why I have AMD marked as just a beta driver for Windows - they will be releasing a full driver for Windows and Linux very shortly, but haven't as of today.
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#7 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 09:10 PM

View PostDirtyHarry50, on 17 February 2016 - 06:09 PM, said:

That is interesting news. I am inclined to wonder about the persistence of DirectX though given many AAA games start with consoles and are ported to PC after the fact. In the case of titles for XBox which I presume is using some form of DirectX I would expect porting to Windows is easier and less costly. On the other hand for very many titles that does nothing to help with those games being developed for PS4 also as far as I know. There again, where PS4 is not using Vulkan either, all the console ports still have to be done to something and if a publisher is paying for a port to go from XBox to Windows and most likely using DirectX, I'd think they may as well also use DirectX doing the PS4 version to save some effort and cost.

Now, I don't do this stuff for a living and I have not spent any time studying it in any detail either but it would seem to me that a slam dunk which obsoletes DirectX and ushers in a world of perfect cross platform compatibly is not really happening with this although potentially and particularly in the case of PC exclusive titles this would be highly attractive. So my take on this stuff is there seems to be good potential for benefit here but I don't see anything bringing about a complete solution anytime soon myself and I don't see DirectX becoming obsolete on PC and replaced with Vulkan either.

Other than strategy and probably a lot of indies, I think a very large amount of the AAA games originate with consoles and I see that impacting things on the PC side of the fence too. Maybe I am wrong but that is how it appears to me. For any AAA on XBox I think sticking with DirectX on Windows means one less port to do if I am not missing something and that could save a company a lot of money for any complex game.

For many games, they are created using an engine that can support multiple API's. For example, Epic's Unreal Engine supports DirectX, OpenGL, Playstation4, iOS, Android and then a few other minor platforms. When a developer makes a game using Unreal Engine 4 their game can be compiled to run on any/all of those platforms. Now it's not as simple as checking every single box and hitting compile and then expecting it to run at 100% performance on every platform, but that's the rough idea.

Currently, a game developer would likely compile and bug test the game for DirectX and PS4, since that is 95% of the gaming market and the extra time spent on bug testing an OpenGL version for Linux/Mac isn't worth it to them. With Vulkan, they can spend the time to bug test and see it supported on both Windows and Linux (and Mac, if Apple chooses to support Vulkan in the future).
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#8 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 09:46 PM

View PostSneaky Snake, on 17 February 2016 - 09:10 PM, said:

For many games, they are created using an engine that can support multiple API's. For example, Epic's Unreal Engine supports DirectX, OpenGL, Playstation4, iOS, Android and then a few other minor platforms. When a developer makes a game using Unreal Engine 4 their game can be compiled to run on any/all of those platforms. Now it's not as simple as checking every single box and hitting compile and then expecting it to run at 100% performance on every platform, but that's the rough idea.

Currently, a game developer would likely compile and bug test the game for DirectX and PS4, since that is 95% of the gaming market and the extra time spent on bug testing an OpenGL version for Linux/Mac isn't worth it to them. With Vulkan, they can spend the time to bug test and see it supported on both Windows and Linux (and Mac, if Apple chooses to support Vulkan in the future).

Well, it will be interesting to see to what extent that is utilized and takes off. I have very, very little optimism that's ever coming to OS X or iOS though. I guess I could be wrong but it seems pretty unlikely to me because desktop gaming really isn't an area of focus at all for Apple and I'm of the opinion that from a purely business perspective that makes sense even though as a consumer i would like it if things were different.
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#9 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 17 February 2016 - 10:06 PM

View PostDirtyHarry50, on 17 February 2016 - 09:46 PM, said:

Well, it will be interesting to see to what extent that is utilized and takes off. I have very, very little optimism that's ever coming to OS X or iOS though. I guess I could be wrong but it seems pretty unlikely to me because desktop gaming really isn't an area of focus at all for Apple and I'm of the opinion that from a purely business perspective that makes sense even though as a consumer i would like it if things were different.

If Vulkan takes off, I think Apple will support it eventually, like 2017 or 2018. If it doesn't take off and/or if Metal sees decent support then I think they'll stay with Metal exclusively. One thing to keep in mind is that Vulkan is the successor to OpenGL, so at some point in the future it might even be easier for Apple to support Vulkan then OpenGL, but only time will tell.

There are reasons outside of gaming to support Vulkan. Professional applications for example for photo/video/audio editing will likely see Vulkan support as well. As far as I know Apple doesn't have anything to lose business wise by supporting Vulkan. It's not like Vulkan is owned by Google or something (Apple's biggest competitor in my opinion).
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#10 Frost

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Posted 18 February 2016 - 12:18 AM

There is the factor of Apple is still a Khronos member. I don't think Vulkan support on OSX is out of the question. I don't know if it's changed since I last read about it some months ago, but isn't Vulkan, being an OpenGL successor, still supposed to be targeting CAD as well?

I think it's a lot more likely professional/science/other GPGPU-focused applications will want to use Vulkan if that's the case, and not custom design something specifically for Metal. Apple may not give two popsnizzles about gamers, but they do still support the professional Mac market to some degree. Next time they refresh the Mac Pro with updated FirePro/Quadro offerings, it might be a great time to say, "We support Vulkan, buy the Mac Pro!"
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#11 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 18 February 2016 - 01:52 PM

My tendency is to think Apple will simply drop OpenGL altogether eventually and will not support Vulkan to replace it but rather stick to a single API across the ecosystem which is simpler and less costly to maintain.

I don't see either Apple nor Microsoft going out of their way to support 3rd party standards personally. I think the only time these guys involve themselves in anything open it is solely for the purpose of gaining some kind of tech or dumping something they don't care about or want to babysit themselves anymore. They are both already substantially invested in their own graphics API's which will do the same thing.

It seems to me that the biggest benefit here might be to Linux not that it will be any earth shattering thing at the end of the day. That's why Valve is loving it I would think because they want to move away from Windows for very good reason.
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#12 G_Player

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 10:26 PM

This is from the Kronos Group's FAQ on thier web site:

"Will Apple will support Vulkan? (OS X and iOS)"

"Apple is a member of Khronos and they actually are on the board, and they're active in several of our APIs, but they have not publicly stated any support for Vulkan at this point. It does look like they seem to be mainly focused on Metal right now. From Khronos' point of view, there is no barrier to any OS platform adopting Vulkan and Apple, just like anyone else, will be more than welcome to adopt."

I feel that once Apple is done refining Metal, support for Vulkan will happen. *fingers crossed*
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#13 Camper-Hunter

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 12:40 AM

Well, if they support Vulkan as well as they've been supporting OpenGL, you should uncross your fingers and use them for something more productive. :)

#14 Thain Esh Kelch

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 01:02 AM

View PostG_Player, on 14 March 2017 - 10:26 PM, said:

I feel that once Apple is done refining Metal, support for Vulkan will happen. *fingers crossed*
That doesn't make much sense. Why would they support two different API's used for the exact same thing? Heck, they didn't even care much about having just a single API; OpenGL.
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#15 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 07:35 AM

I feel like the window for Apple to support Vulkan (and still reap the benefits) is still quite large. There is only a small handful of major games that use Vulkan (only Doom and DotA 2 come to mind). We are still years away from wide-scale industry adoption of the API (if they do choose to adopt it).
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#16 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 08:02 AM

Vulkan is going to wind up being a Linux/Android thing and that's it.

Microsoft and Apple are doing their own thing and that's that.
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#17 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 12:25 PM

<p>

View PostDirtyHarry50, on 15 March 2017 - 08:02 AM, said:

Vulkan is going to wind up being a Linux/Android thing and that's it.

Microsoft and Apple are doing their own thing and that's that.

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it on the Windows platform. Doom showed the world how powerful Vulkan is (Doom is seriously the best-optimized game I have ever seen in my life).

AMD and Bethesda recently partnered up, with one of their main goals being bringing the Vulkan API to Bethesda's games. Big games like the next Elder Scrolls game, Fallout 5, Wolfenstein, etc. could all be Vulkan powered.

"One of the main goals of this long-term strategic partnership is to "accelerate the implementation" of Vulkan, a low-level API developed from AMD's Mantle, along with other new technologies being introduced with Ryzen and Vega."
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#18 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 04:09 PM

I don't think any of that is going to matter much ultimately. We shall see.
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#19 devSin

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 03:19 PM

View PostSneaky Snake, on 15 March 2017 - 12:25 PM, said:

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it on the Windows platform. Doom showed the world how powerful Vulkan is (Doom is seriously the best-optimized game I have ever seen in my life).
Isn't that more an indictment of how awful vendor-supplied OpenGL drivers are on Windows? Performance and stability were pretty terrible at release (especially on AMD hardware).

View PostSneaky Snake, on 15 March 2017 - 12:25 PM, said:

AMD and Bethesda recently partnered up, with one of their main goals being bringing the Vulkan API to Bethesda's games. Big games like the next Elder Scrolls game, Fallout 5, Wolfenstein, etc. could all be Vulkan powered.
"Studio with one of the only major AAA engines with shipping Vulkan support signs on to support Vulkan. News at 11."

Somehow, I don't really think this'll mean much in the long run. It aligns with their interests, and it's not a bad thing (it's certainly better for id Tech overall), but there's nothing in this announcement that really makes adoption of Vulkan on a wider scale seem more likely.

#20 Steve Ballmer

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 01:52 AM

No mac support .... and you are surprised?
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