New Vulkan APIs May Deliver Ray Tracing to Smartphones

Real-time ray tracing became a coveted feature for gamers when Nvidia introduced the technology on its RTX cards. Thanks to the new Vulkan expansions from the Khronos Group, mobile gamers may soon be able to experience increased realism in the games on their phones. Although ray tracing on Vulkan works similarly to DirectX ray tracing with DirectX 12 for desktops and consoles, the new addition allows some of the heavy lifting to be shifted to the CPU to better utilize PC resources.

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"Although ray tracing is initially deployed on desktop systems, these Vulkan extensions were designed to enable and promote the deployment of ray tracing on mobile devices," said the Khronos Group, regarding future mobile phone support. A specific schedule was not given.

The group called this the "industry's first open, cross-vendor, cross-platform standard for ray tracing acceleration." It can be deployed with either existing GPU compute or dedicated ray tracing cores.

The Khronos Group released the first versions of the extensions at the beginning of March this year. The extensions have been updated with industry and user feedback, and the final SDK will be released in mid-December. Vulkan will be adding support for shader toolchains and validation levels with ray tracing support in the coming days and weeks.

The final release of the Vulkan expansions will hopefully lead to more games and titles that support ray tracing. In the past, developers who wanted to support ray tracing in their titles had to rely on either DirectX 12 or an unofficially split version of Vulkan. With the official version of the Vulkan extension and the SDKs, which will be available shortly, developers will have access to a more stable platform on which to integrate ray tracing.

If you're a developer, download the Vulkan Ray Tracing beta drivers for Nvidia and AMD graphics cards now. The Khronos group also has a Github page where you can follow the progress of the drivers and stay up to date on the development of Vulkan. Khronos also has a blog detailing the changes for developers.

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