Graphics API Vulkan now features official ray tracing support

Polycount

Posts: 2,760   +571
Staff member
In brief: Vulkan has become a strong and popular contender to Microsoft's DirectX 12 graphics API. It's favored by developers (and even players, such as myself) for its superior performance (when well-implemented) and its hardware-agnostic nature, but despite these pros, Vulkan has been lacking in one critical area -- ray tracing. Fortunately, that's finally changing now: Khronos has just released the tech necessary for developers to fully integrate RT features into Vulkan.

This news comes straight from the horse's mouth, thanks to an announcement post published by Khronos (the developer being Vulkan) today. In the post, Khronos says it's successfully released the "final versions" of the set of Vulkan, GLSL, and SPIR-V extension specifications that "seamlessly integrate ray tracing into the existing Vulkan framework."

Khronos says this is a significant milestone, as it's the industry's first open, cross-vendor, and cross-platform standard for ray tracing acceleration. Since the only real way to harness RT features thus far has been through Nvidia's RTX GPUs and DX12 Ultimate, we certainly agree with Khronos' assessment here.

More competition is always a good thing, and even though it took a while, it's nice to finally see Vulkan challenge DX12 and DXR more directly. For players, this doesn't mean much for the immediate future. Developers will need to bake support for Vulkan into their latest titles; it's far from an automatic process.

However, the good news is, Vulkan can take advantage of a wide variety of hardware -- while it can use dedicated RT cores to function, it doesn't have to. Theoretically, any GPU could run Vulkan RT using existing "GPU compute" cores, but obviously, performance probably won't be great without some kind of dedicated acceleration (for now, anyway).

Khronos outlines some of the key improvements arriving with its latest Vulkan release in its announcement post, but it's a fairly low-level overview, so we won't be covering it here. If you're familiar with the inner workings of graphics APIs, though, be sure to take a look -- you might find it interesting.

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loki1944

Posts: 513   +345
Honestly, I find raytracing massively overrated; most of the time it's like the world got slathered in vaseline; however, I am very impressed with Vulkan, every game I have that can use it runs fantastically. Definitely cannot say the same for DX12; if a game is DX12 only, then the chance that I will buy it is 0, better have a DX11 or Vulkan option.
 

neeyik

Posts: 1,601   +1,800
Staff member
If RTX has only been working on DX12, then what’s been powering Quake II RTX on Linux?
Quake II RTX uses Vulkan, but since there was no default ray tracing support within the API at that time, Nvidia used the VK_KHR_ray_tracing extension. RTX is just Nvidia's name for their ray tracing technology and it's exposed through a variety of APIs:

  • DirectX Raytracing (DXR) - used in D3D12 games
  • OpenGL via the GL_NV_ray_tracing and SPV_NV_ray_tracing extensions
  • Vulkan, either by the extension mentioned above or via the new core support
  • OptiX - Nvidia's own API
 

Skjorn

Posts: 562   +409
Honestly, I find raytracing massively overrated; most of the time it's like the world got slathered in vaseline
I'm going to guess what you're seeing is actually TAA, which I believe is usually forced on when enabling RT. I hate TAA but love the idea of RT. DLSS is nice but its still smudgy to me like TAA.
 

Irata

Posts: 1,150   +1,817
TechSpot Elite
Honestly, I find raytracing massively overrated; most of the time it's like the world got slathered in vaseline; however, I am very impressed with Vulkan, every game I have that can use it runs fantastically. Definitely cannot say the same for DX12; if a game is DX12 only, then the chance that I will buy it is 0, better have a DX11 or Vulkan option.
If they used RT to enhance the game‘s AI that would be great. This could help determine when an opponent can see or hear you.
The same thing the other way around could also help improve gameplay.
 

dangh

Posts: 179   +210
Honestly, I find raytracing massively overrated; most of the time it's like the world got slathered in vaseline; however, I am very impressed with Vulkan, every game I have that can use it runs fantastically. Definitely cannot say the same for DX12; if a game is DX12 only, then the chance that I will buy it is 0, better have a DX11 or Vulkan option.
it is not overrated, but it is often incorrectly used:
This scene:
https://giphy.com/gifs/TfMbL3itwFrj4yNqS3
looks amazing thanks to proper RT usage.