For the last couple of years now, developers looking to include ray-tracing in their games have had to use DirectX 12 or rely on a custom, unofficial extension for Vulkan. That will change soon though, as Khronos has now released the final specifications for its official ray tracing extension for Vulkan, creating the “industry’s first open, cross-vendor, cross-platform standard” for ray tracing.
Although similar to DirectX Raytracing (DXR) in DirectX 12, Vulkan Ray Tracing adds some new features including the ability to load balance ray tracing setup operations to the processor. Ray tracing may have been designed initially for desktops, but Khronos Group is also promoting the use of it on mobile devices.
The Vulkan, GLSL and SPIR-V extensions were initially implemented in March 2020 and have been continuously updated based on feedback from developers and hardware vendors.
The final specifications release is just the tipping point. In the coming weeks, Khronos will be updating the ecosystem components, starting with support for ray tracing shader toolchains and validation layers. This will then pave the way for the release of the Vulkan SDK with Khronos Vulkan Ray Tracing support by mid-December. You can track the progress of these new updates through Github.
Developer beta drivers with the final Vulkan Ray Tracing extensions for NVIDIA GPUs and AMD GPUs can be found HERE and HERE, respectively. You can learn more about the Vulkan Ray Tracing final specifications HERE.
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KitGuru says: It is great to see another cross-platform, hardware agnostic tool for more developers to bring ray tracing to their games.