Khronos Group Trying To Standardize Ray Tracing With Vulkan API

Ray Tracing

Ray tracing is the latest toy that many game developers have been playing with. However, its acceptance in the industry has been slower than usual. This is mostly due to its high-performance cost that can reduce frames-per-second by half. It has also only been around for a short time, as Nvidia RTX graphic cards were the ones that first supported ray tracing.

To make ray tracing a valid choice, Khronos Group is aiming to standardize it with their famous Vulkan API, which is known for its better optimization. Many of the latest games have adopted Vulkan technology like Doom (2016), Rainbow Six Siege, and Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, all of which saw a massive increase in performance. Khronos Group will talk more about it at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2020, which will take place next month.

"Join us to hear about the latest developments in Vulkan around standardized ray tracing functionality; the working group will provide an update on the current state of the ray-tracing efforts, what this means for the graphics industry, and how you’ll be able to take advantage of this technology," Khronos Group said on their official site.

At last year's GDC, Nvidia explained in a post why ray tracing is a “natural fit” for Vulkan API.

"As Vulkan was designed from the ground-up with extensibility in mind, adding ray tracing capabilities becomes natural. Nvidia’s VKRay makes use of existing API primitives for memory allocation, shader compilation, synchronization and work submission, as well as existing shading languages," Nvidia wrote in the post. "There are only a handful of new API building blocks required, so adding ray tracing functionality into an existing application is straightforward,"

As of now, most of the ray tracing in the games is done using Microsoft's DirectX Raytracing (DXR) API. It will be interesting to see how Vulkan API will be able to challenge that. We know that overall Vulkan provides better performance compared to DirectX, but will that advantage also work with ray tracing enabled? Only time will tell.

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