The Vulkan Graphics API Is Here—and Your NVIDIA GPU Is Ready

by Neil Trevett

If you’re a GeForce gamer, you already have what you need to take advantage of what the Vulkan API can do. If you’re a developer, you will now have the choice of a new tool that will give you more control, and greater performance, on a broad range of devices.

Our support for Vulkan, on the day it launches, not just on multiple platforms, but in cutting-edge games such as The Talos Principle, has some of the industry’s most respected observers taking notice.

“To be able to play a game like The Talos Principle on the same day an API launches, is an unheard of achievement,” said Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research. “NVIDIA’s multi-platform compatibility and fully conformant driver support across many operating systems is a testament to the company’s leadership role in Vulkan’s development.”

GeForce gamers will be the first to play the Vulkan version of The Talos Principle, a puzzle game from Croteam that shipped today.

What Is Vulkan?

Vulkan is a low level API that gives direct access of the GPU to developers who want the ultimate in control. With a simpler, thinner driver, Vulkan has less latency and overhead than traditional OpenGL or Direct3D. Vulkan also has efficient multi-threading capabilities so that multi-core CPUs can keep the graphics pipeline loaded, enabling a new level of performance on existing hardware.

Vulkan is the first new generation, low-level API that is cross platform. This allows developers to create applications for a variety of PC, mobile and embedded devices using diverse operating systems. Like OpenGL, Vulkan is an open, royalty-free standard available for any platform to adopt. For developers who prefer to remain on OpenGL or OpenGL ES, NVIDIA will continue to drive innovations on those traditional APIs too.

Who’s Behind Vulkan?

vulkan-transparent-webVulkan was created by the Khronos Group, a standards organization that brings together a wide range of hardware and software companies, including NVIDIA, for the creation of open standard, royalty-free APIs for authoring and accelerated playback of dynamic media on a wide variety of platforms and devices. We’re proud to have played a leadership role in creating Vulkan. And we’re committed to helping developers use Vulkan to get the best from our GPUs.

Why You Should Care

Vulkan is great for developers. It reduces porting costs and opens up new market opportunities for applications across multiple platforms. Best of all, the NVIDIA drivers needed to take advantage of Vulkan are already here. On launch day we have Vulkan drivers available for Windows, Linux, and Android platforms. See our Vulkan driver page for all the details.

Here’s what Vulkan will mean for you:

  • For gamers with GeForce GPUs: Vulkan’s low latency and high-efficiency lets developers add more details and more special effects to their games, while still maintaining great performance. Because a Vulkan driver is thinner with less overhead, application developers will get fewer performance surprises. This translates to smoother, more fluid experiences.

    NVIDIA is shipping fully-conformant Vulkan drivers for all GeForce boards based on Kepler or Maxwell GPUs running Windows (Windows 7 or later) or Linux. “We have been using NVIDIA hardware and drivers on both Windows and Android for Vulkan development, and the reductions in CPU overhead have been impressive,” said Oculus Chief Technology Officer John Carmack.GeForce gamers will be the first to play the Vulkan version of  The Talos Principle, a puzzle game from Croteam that also shipped today. “We’ve successfully collaborated with the NVIDIA driver support team in the past, but I was amazed with the work they did on Vulkan,” said Croteam Senior Programmer Dean Sekuliuc. “They promptly provided us with the latest beta drivers so we were able to quickly implement the new API into Serious Engine and make The Talos Principle one of the first titles supporting Vulkan. Smooth!”<
  • For professional application developers using Quadro: Our Vulkan and OpenGL drivers use an integrated binary architecture that enables the use of GLSL shaders in Vulkan. Developers also have the flexibility to continue using OpenGL or plan a smooth transition from OpenGL to Vulkan to take advantage of Vulkan’s new capabilities. For example, Vulkan’s multi-threaded architecture can enable multiple CPU cores to prepare massive amounts of data for the GPU faster than before. For design and digital content creation applications, this means enhanced interactivity with large models.
  • For mobile developers using Tegra: We’re making Vulkan available to developers for both Android and Linux. Vulkan will ship alongside OpenGL ES as a core API in a future version of Android. This means that standard Android will have a state-of-the-art API with integrated graphics and compute, ultimately unleashing the GPU in Tegra for cutting-edge vision and compute applications, as well as awesome gaming graphics. Developers can use Vulkan on NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV and SHIELD tablets for Android coding, and Jetson for embedded Linux development.

How to Learn More About Vulkan

To learn more, click here or stop by our upcoming GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, CA, April 4-7, where we’ll have a full slate of Vulkan sessions.

We can’t wait to see what you do with the combination of Vulkan, NVIDIA drivers, and NVIDIA GPUs.

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  • ElectricPrism

    I’m super exited, Vulkan is a simplification and the next itteration of OpenGL that we really need.

    And the cross-platform standard is amazing as it levels the foundation to simplify development.

    I’m glad to be a nVidia gamer, may our FPS be high and our core temperatures low.

  • Timerider

    If only there was a way to get existing OpenGL applications to run more efficiently.

  • danglingparticiple

    Full hardware asynchronous compute support in Nvidia GPUs? Nope!

  • Partisan Black

    No support for 800 series?

  • DanielT

    How many async-enabled games have you played? Precisely zero, I guess? -:)

  • danglingparticiple

    Since there is one game out with Alpha Vulkan support, you’re correct. But rest assured, they’ll be coming.

  • danglingparticiple

    Don’t hold your breath. They want you to buy a new card.

  • Frank Kaufmann

    Misleading title. GTX 580 that cost 450 € back in the day isn’t supported. Crappy GT 630 that’s maybe good enough for Candy Crush is supported.

  • 12John34

    Not all GT 630s. Under the GT 630 brand you will find both Fermi and Kepler models. Which is also the case for GT 730 and other low end cards.

  • 12John34

    With Microsoft promoting Windows 10 with Xbox One exclusive titles like the new Quantum Break, things are going to change.

  • Shven

    Hilarious article. Nvidia claiming a leadership role in creating an API which the entire foundations were completely developed by AMD. Had Nvidia actually taken a leadership role in developing an API, I strongly doubt it would have been donated as an open standard lol. Nvidia, seriously, you make some excellent GPU’s, of that there is no doubt, but your business practices are plain anti-consumer. If u really want to do what’s best for the gaming community as a whole and embrace open standards, can I suggest you make Gameworks open source, drop gsync/adopt freesync, and port Physx and Cuda to OpenCL.

  • Stallman

    Maybe all the consoles AAA Games ?
    Ashes of the singularity
    The upcoming hitman
    Gears of war
    All future Vulkan and direct x 12 Games will use this which give 50% of jump perf on AMD cards.

  • Stallman

    No Fermi support because they love obsolescence unlike AMD

  • Stallman

    Lol async do that AMD now destroy nvidia

  • Stallman

    Hey devs go use asynchronous compute 😀 it’s the Best Vulkan/direct x 12 features and it is already used on consoles so this will do easier ports.
    Watch ashes of the singularity benchmarck bêta 2 !! 50% performance jump oO

  • DanielT

    They’ll give you a 500% jump performance. Even 5000%.

  • DanielT

    Yeah. That’s the slogan of AMD. -:)
    Buy your hardware now and wait for the brighter future!
    Still waiting for Mantle to take place. Still waiting for R9 290 to uncover it’s full potential. Still waiting for the FX CPUs to utilize their numerous threads! 3 years so far and still waiting -:)

    Isn’t it hilarious? -:)

  • Stallman

    Async really give a 50% jump performance, see the ashes of the singularity bêta 2 benchmarcks

  • LeadStarDude

    I so hope that Vulkan takes down Direct X

  • Adam

    Surprised my GTX 580 isn’t supported, it’s still a beast 🙁

  • DanielT

    I’ve seen it already. I hope you realize that one game, more like of a “benchmark” even, doesn’t mean that the overall improvement will be 50%. You see, actual game studios make every possible effort to optimize the games for various GPU architectures. They don’t try to expose as much difference it’s possible to achieve, but to make the game running nice on as much hardware configurations as possible. Therefore, I can guarantee you that you’ll never ever see +50% improvement in actual games. Single benchmarks – maybe. Games – no way.

  • Endgadget

    ” that we really need.”

    I don’t think that I’ve selected OpenGL since the Quake Arena days.

  • Stallman

    Wait and see

  • ElectricPrism

    You !== Me
    You !== Us

  • Joe Black

    That’s the beauty of open source Nvidia.