Khronos has announced that it has reached a significant milestone in the development of Vulkan. A few hours ago it released the final versions of the set of Vulkan, GLSL and SPIR-V extension specifications that seamlessly integrate ray tracing into the existing Vulkan framework. This work opens up open, cross platform, cross-vendor ray tracing acceleration. Khronos highlights that its ray tracing implementation will be deployed not just on PC systems but on mobiles too.
If you thought Vulkan was already real time raytracing ready that might be because Khronos released provision versions of these specs back in March 2020. Since that time it has been gathering feedback from hardware and software partners but is pleased to report that the "overall shape of the API and the functionality provided are fundamentally unchanged," since that time.
Khronos says that today's announcement of the finalised ray tracing specs is the beginning of an extensive rollout schedule. "Over the coming days and weeks, additional ecosystem components such as shader toolchains and validation layers will be updated with support for ray tracing functionality to ensure developers can easily use these extensions in their applications," says the group.
Developers should head on over to GitHub for the latest updates but the release of the Vulkan SDK (188.8.131.52 or later) with Khronos Vulkan Ray Tracing support isn't available immediately - you should pencil it into your calendar in mid-December.
A dedicated blog post about the Vulkan Ray Tracing final specification release provides a lot of background reading and extensive links to learn more about the spec and how it is to be used.
It is great to have a worthy new challenger as an alternative to using raytracing features via Nvidia RTX GPUs or Microsoft's DirectX 12 Ultimate. It is worth repeating that the Vulkan implementation is cross platform, cross vendor, and hardware agnostic - and can accelerate raytracing on GPU compute or dedicated RT cores.