Our graphics drivers have supported the Vulkan API for nearly half a year now, but unless you’re a developer or a The Talos Principle fan, then you haven’t been able to take much advantage of them. That changes today, as id Software has released a brand-new patch for its latest mega-hit DOOM that enables support for the low-level API.
Like AMD’s Mantle to come before it, Khronos’ Vulkan API gives developers the opportunity to code at a “bare-metal” level, improving efficiency and performance overall.
NVIDIA has thus far kept mum on this DOOM patch, but AMD wasted no time in getting some intriguing information our way. According to the company’s own testing, the Vulkan API can deliver up to a 27% performance improvement over OpenGL (disclosure: AMD’s test system featured an Intel Core i7-5960X processor – not exactly ‘low-end’).
If you were given a choice between DX12 (not supported in DOOM), which is also a low-level API, and Vulkan, your selection would likely boil down to feature sets. If DX12 somehow increased eye candy over Vulkan, then it’d be a no-brainer to choose one over the other.
Where Vulkan truly has an advantage is with cross-platform play. While DOOM isn’t available for Linux, the introduction of Vulkan support would make the transition easier. Vulkan could also prove huge on mobile, although we’re not sure too many would line up to play such an intensive, fast-paced game with touch controls.
id’s addition of Vulkan support in DOOM adds support for asynchronous shaders (vastly improved multi-threading), shader intrinsic functions (the ability to code at a bare-metal level), as well as frame flip, which passes the frame directly to the display rather than add latency from a copy and save process.
So far, people seem to love the patch – at least those on the red side of the fence. Due to ongoing testing, I’m unable to get down and dirty with Vulkan testing at the moment, but I will in time for our look at NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1060. Stay tuned.