The prospect of in-game ray tracing is still just a dream for most players. Ultimately, more will adopt newer devices that specialize in offering luxury lighting, but the Vulkan API, developed by the Khronos Group, That might make it possible For some of us sooner. Better yet, the Vulkan API also works in tandem with AMD ray-tracing accelerators, which means another big step towards broader ray-tracing support.
Vulkan API first introduced ray tracing extensions in March 2020 for game developers to try it out. Since then, Khronos developers have tweaked the code to provide more convenience and ease of use. Today marks the official release of ray tracing extensions, so you can expect to see developers taking advantage of these tools in the future. You may need to be patient, but like games World of Warcraft: Shadowlands It will be one of the first implementers.
The official release describes the Vulkan Ray Tracing Extensions API as “the industry’s first, cross-vendor, open standard for ray tracing acceleration – and can be deployed with either an existing GPU account or custom ray-tracing cores.” The Vulkan Extension Specifications, GLSL and SPIR-V also seamlessly integrate ray tracing into the existing Vulkan framework, making it easier to adopt. We may see more ray tracing updates in games that have already been released.
While today marks the official release of the extensions, Khronos indicated that additional ecosystem components will be updated. This will eventually culminate in the launch of Vulkan SDK (18.104.22.168 or later) with support for Khronos Vulkan Ray Tracing in mid-December. Once again, these changes are still underway, so it will be some time before the API matures and sees increased adoption by game developers. It’s definitely exciting to see the foundation laid.
New ways to see rays
Just like with Nvidia’s RTX and DirectX 12 ray tracing, Vulkan applies reflections, shadows, ambient occlusion, and global lighting, among other effects. Given Vulkan’s popularity, this would be something that many players would end up using. While this news is completely technical and not as exciting as A. Glamorous gameplay trailer, Still important to understand.
Since this is open source and does not require special hardware, it will be useful for those who still have the GTX 10 Series and Radeon 5000 Series GPUs, although technically older cards can try ray tracing as well. Don’t raise your hopes though. The ray tracing performance without dedicated ray tracing cores wouldn’t be great. Still, it’s nice to have a choice. You may be able to rotate it in low resolution if one of your favorite games adds it.
Nvidia already has drivers for the new additions, while AMD has limited beta support. It’s also worth noting that Intel will be entering the game at some point in 2021. You can try these drivers if you’re feeling adventurous, but you might be hard-pressed to find a game that supports it at the moment.