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Khronos’ Vulkan ray-tracing extensions launch after Xbox Series X spec reveal: will leverage spare CPU cycles to maximize performance

Vulkan’s ray-tracing support might lead to more widespread adoption of the tech (Image source: Khronos)
Vulkan’s ray-tracing support might lead to more widespread adoption of the tech (Image source: Khronos)
Khronos Group recently announced the official launch of Vulkan’s ray-tracing extensions. The platforms ray-tracing features will largely deliver parity with Microsoft’s existing DXR 1.1 standard, with the exception of some nifty performance options.
Arjun Krishna Lal,
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Khronos Group, the overseers of the Vulkan graphics API standard, recently announced the public release of ray tracing extensions for Vulkan. This is a major step towards the wider adoption of ray-tracing in games: previously, Microsoft had announced the DXR extension to its proprietary DirectX API for ray-tracing support.  

Vulkan ray-tracing, however, is the first open-source API solution. More than anything else, this shows that ray-tracing isn’t a proprietary fad like HairWorks or PhysX, and that the community’s been working on a solution since at least 2018. Strictly speaking, vendor-specific ray-tracing implementations have existed on Vulkan for quite some time:the RTX-enabled Vulkan title Wolfenstein: Youngblood used Nvidia’s vendor-specific extensions. 

Vulkan’s new ray-tracing support doesn’t offer anything radically new, apart from feature parity with the DXR 1.1 standard. However, Khronos’ announcement hints at potential performance benefits from running ray-tracing workloads over Vulkan. This in terms of the “Build Acceleration Structure on Host” feature, which essentially pushes some of the ray-tracing workload back to idle CPU cores.

In games that don’t fully saturate 12 or 16 threads, this could be a great way of extracting additional performance. With the Xbox Series X’s ray-tracing capabilities confirmed and now the Vulkan announcement, we might finally start games deploy ray-tracing features without being limited to Nvidia’s RTX series. 

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Arjun Krishna Lal
Arjun Krishna Lal - Tech Writer - 518 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2019
I've had a passion for PC gaming since 1996, when I watched my dad score frags in Quake as a 1 year-old. I've gone on to become a Penguin-published author and tech journalist. Apart from working as an editor at Notebookcheck, I write for outlets including TechSpot and Gamingbolt. I’m the Director of Content at Flying V Group, one of the top 5 digital marketing agencies in Orange County. When I'm not traveling the world, gathering stories for my next book, you can find me tinkering with my PC.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 03 > Khronos’ Vulkan ray-tracing extensions launch after Xbox Series X spec reveal: will leverage spare CPU cycles to maximize performance
Arjun Krishna Lal, 2020-03-18 (Update: 2020-03-18)