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Radeon GPUs are ready for the Vulkan graphics API

Staff
Staff
9 27 241K

Today is an exciting day for PC gaming enthusiasts: the Khronos Group has announced immediate public release of the open standard Vulkan™ 1.0 graphics API! To mark the occasion, we’ve posted a Radeon Software beta for Vulkan. This graphics driver is primarily intended to enable a wider audience of game developers to work with Vulkan on Radeon™ graphics.

What is Vulkan?

From the consortium that brought you OpenGL, Vulkan is a new graphics API for developers who want or need deeper hardware control. Designed with “low-overhead” capabilities, Vulkan gives devs total control over the performance, efficiency, and capabilities of Radeon™ GPUs and multi-core CPUs.

Compared to OpenGL, Vulkan substantially reduces “API overhead,” which is background work a CPU must do to interpret what a game is asking of the hardware. Reducing this overhead gives hardware much more time to spend on delivering meaningful features, performance and image quality. Vulkan also exposes GPU hardware features not ordinarily accessible through OpenGL.

Vulkan inherits these capabilities from AMD’s Mantle graphics API. Mantle was the first of its kind: the first low-overhead PC graphics API, the first to grant unprecedented access to PC GPU resources, and the first to offer absolute control of those resources. Most importantly for gamers, Mantle got the industry thinking about how much additional GPU performance could be unlocked with a low-overhead graphics API.

Though the Mantle API was tailored for AMD hardware, Mantle was also designed with just enough hardware abstraction to accommodate almost any modern graphics architecture.  That architecture proved useful when we contributed the source code and API specification of Mantle to serve as the foundation of Vulkan in May of 2015.

Since that time, Vulkan has been forged under the stewardship of a comprehensive industry alliance that spans the hardware development, game development and content creation industries. Many new and significant capabilities have been added, such as support and performance optimizations for Android® smartphones and tablets, or cross-OS support for Windows® 7, Windows® 8.1, Windows® 10, and Linux®.

What our driver supports

AMD has been participating in Vulkan’s development since its inception and providing builds of our Vulkan-enabled driver to game developers for many months. As we transition into the public phase, our initial driver release enables Vulkan support for select Radeon™ GPUs on Windows® 7, Windows® 8.1, and Windows® 10. An upcoming release of the amdgpu Linux driver will also feature Vulkan support.

Please note that this initial Windows driver is not packaged with DirectX® driver components, so it is not a suitable replacement for your everyday graphics driver.

Our Vulkan driver supports the following AMD APUs and Radeon™ GPUs1 based on the Graphics Core Next architecture:

What are some of the Radeon™ graphics features Vulkan exposes?

Only Radeon™ GPUs built on the GCN Architecture currently have access to a powerful capability known as asynchronous compute, which allows the graphics card to process 3D geometry and compute workloads in parallel. As an example, this would be useful when a game needs to calculate complex lighting and render characters at the same time. As these tasks do not have to run serially on a Radeon™ GPU, this can save time and improve overall framerates. Game developers designing Vulkan applications can now leverage this unique hardware feature across all recent versions of Windows and Linux.

Capture.PNG

Another new feature that Radeon™ GPUs support with Vulkan is multi-threaded command buffers. Games with multi-threaded command buffers can dispatch chunks of work to the GPU from all available CPU cores. This can keep the GPU occupied with meaningful work more frequently, leading to improved framerates and image quality. Vulkan brings this performance advantage to recent versions of Windows and Linux.

Finally, Vulkan has formal support for API extensions. API extensions allow AMD to design new hardware capabilities into future Radeon™ GPUs, then immediately expose those capabilities with a software plugin that interfaces with Vulkan in a compliant way.

The road ahead

As we move deeper into 2016, stay tuned to the GPUOpen website, the AMD Developer portal, and our activities at Game Developer Conference 2016. We promise to bring you a whole lot more on the exciting power and potential of the Vulkan API on Radeon™ graphics!

Robert Hallock is the Head of Global Technical Marketing at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

Footnote:

1. These products are based on a published Khronos specification but has not yet passed the Khronos Conformance Test Process. A fully conformant implementation of the Vulkan API will be included in a forthcoming Radeon Software release.

27 Comments
Miniboss
Miniboss

What a surprise, awesome news!

Adept I
Adept I

"An upcoming release of the amdgpu Linux driver will also feature Vulkan support."

This is no info. amdgpu is the kernel module. When will the vulkan user space driver be ready? Will it be moved in mesa or at least be foss at day one?

Adept I
Adept I

Awesome news!! Sharing this big news here.

Adept II
Adept II

Great news! GO TEAM RED!

Staff
Staff

In this case "amdgpu" refers to the amdgpu hybrid stack, which combines open source kernel, X, multimedia and libdrm components with closed-source OpenGL, OpenCL and Vulkan userspace drivers. Sometimes called "Pro" stack, eg in the most recent XDC presentation:

http://www.x.org/wiki/Events/XDC2015/Program/deucher_zhou_amdgpu.pdf

The Vulkan userspace driver code is common between Linux & Windows. Not based on mesa at the moment.

Adept I
Adept I

get rekt

Journeyman III
Journeyman III

AMD Radeon ™ HD 6770M no support,perhaps this in future versions of the driver?

Journeyman III
Journeyman III

So... my AMD 8570m (from lenovo ideacentre b550) it's updateable?

Adept I
Adept I

Awesome !!

Adept I
Adept I

Thanks for the reply. Yes, I'm aware of that presentation, that's why I asked.

Alex Deucher said that the vulkan userspace driver will be open source "eventually", if you get it done in time etc. I hoped, as the linux driver is already delayed, that maybe we'll never get to see the closed vulkan driver.

Hope, the transition is on a good way and good vulkan implementation will be ready when final vulkan software is available.

Adept I
Adept I

no

Staff
Staff

>>I hoped, as the linux driver is already delayed, that maybe we'll never get to see the closed vulkan driver.

The Linux driver isn't being delayed *that* much

Staff
Staff

IIRC the 8570M is one of the early GCN parts; if so then no promises yet but we are at least going to try to extend driver support back that far.

Journeyman III
Journeyman III

Hello, I downloaded the crimson beta enabled drivers on win 64, but I still don't understand if they installed correctly... is my APU supported at all?

A8-6410 (sais mulllins, R5 graphics), playing around with the sdk, but vulkaninfo complains it can't find any vulkan ICD json... AMD's control panel doesn't list vulkan among the supported graphic apis

tried on win 10 64 bits as amdgpu on linux still doesn't support vulkan.

Adept III
Adept III

Do you have the plan to support the Vulkan API for AMD R5 230 Graphics Card ?

Journeyman III
Journeyman III

Was shopping in panic for new card when it was announced fermi is not supported, found a nice little oem radeon 8570 for twenty bucks, vulkan seems to work! No support for sparse binding on it though, good enough as a second card to play with demos and to start learning...

Journeyman III
Journeyman III

I may have missed it, and I couldn't see any available for download, but have linux drivers been announced already?  If not, is there any estimated time these will likely come out? Also, will they support the R9 300 series? (specifically 390X)

Journeyman III
Journeyman III

bridgman​ What about Southern Islands support on Linux? It is comming some times in the future?

Staff
Staff

An "early look" amdgpu hybrid driver stack was released on Friday, not sure if it was just before or just after your post

Testing & Vulkan cert has only covered Tonga/Fiji so far, but a few users have reported success installing on an R9 390X. Main thing to keep in mind is that the stack was packaged and tested for Ubuntu 14.04.4 HWE, ie the stack you get when you download from ubuntu.com these days. IIRC it should also work OK on 15.10, but pre-release 16.04 won't work yet unless you do a fair amount of hacking.

AMD Radeon™ Software AMD GPU-PRO Beta Driver – Linux® for Vulkan™ Release Notes

Staff
Staff

IIRC the R5 230 is a pre-GCN GPU; Vulkan is really designed around GCN and up hardware so no plans to support the 230 (basically none of the vendors are implementing Vulkan on that class of HW). There is some community discussion about experimenting with support for earlier hardware but at the moment I don't think anyone even knows if it is possible.

Staff
Staff

kengur​ for some reason I'm not able to reply directly to your post so responding like this instead.

We have done some initial work on adding SI support to the amdgpu kernel driver, and a community developer has been working on it as well. We're putting together a more detailed plan now, but I think it's fairly safe to say that it will come to Linux through a combination of AMD and community effort.

Journeyman III
Journeyman III

Heh.  I suppose my question was reasonably timed.  I had posted that comment on Wednesday night (pacific time) and am lucky enough that the wheels were in motion for a Friday release!

Thanks for the link. I'll be sure to hold back on upgrading to Ubuntu beta 16.04 and try this driver out on my 14.04 install.

Miniboss
Miniboss

Great news.  My current card in my laptop is supported.

Journeyman III
Journeyman III

Awesome!  Any ETA on when Doom will be "Vulkanised" ? I'm a 7870HD user and I'm having issues with the game, hoping it will be fixed by vulkan support!!!

Miniboss
Miniboss

Now that I have a 390x, the performance improvements I saw in Doom were fantastic.  So great looking.

Journeyman III
Journeyman III

Hy! Can anyone help me? I have problem with in game resolution. I play Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 2, when i play it i can not change it to 800x600 resolution and its make the game get lagged and it was so terrible because the game only providing 1024x768 and upper resolution. What should i do?

Journeyman III
Journeyman III

Hello! Do you have the plan to support the Vulkan API for MSI notebook GX-70 3Be (AMD 5750M, Radeon HD 8650G/8970M)? I tried install latest Crimson Edition drivers with Vulkan Api, but during installation process Windows 10 crashed, with atikmpag.sys bluescreen.