Vulkan, DirectX 12's more open rival, slips to 2016

DirectX 12 isn’t the only graphics API seeing delays, as the Vulkan Working Group recently announced that the open-standard successor to OpenGL won’t hit its end of the year release target. Vulkan, which largely rose from AMD’s defunct Mantle API, was originally supposed to roll out before the end of 2015.

Trying to put a good spin on bad news, the VWG added a bunch of information about how close Vulkan’s debut is. “We are in the home stretch and the release of Vulkan 1.0 is imminent,” the VWG said in an update on the Vulkan homepage.

Conformance tests are almost finished and many companies are already working on driver releases for Vulkan, according to the VWG. SDKs for Windows, Android, and Linux are also moving forward.

Why this matters: While DirectX 12 rules the world of PC gaming, a compelling alternative is especially important for non-Windows machines locked out of Microsoft’s ecosystem. OpenGL was never really strong competition for DirectX, but Vulkan might be, thanks to Valve’s Linux-based Steam machines. If Valve's tiny gaming PCs sell well enough, triple-A game makers might do the work necessary to bring a Windows game to Linux using Vulkan. That would be a dramatic shift for Linux gamers who right now must rely on tools such as Wine or CodeWeavers’ CrossOver to run Windows games.

While Vulkan is finishing up development, Microsoft's DirectX 12 has been out for a few months, lurking inside of Windows 10—at least technically. We’ve yet to any finished games released that take advantage of Microsoft’s latest graphics API. The list of DX12 games is pretty slim at the moment ,with only a few titles available via Steam’s early access program.

Highly anticipated DX12 games such as Killer Instinct and Gears of War Ultimate Edition, both from Microsoft and originally released on Xbox One, aren’t coming to PC until 2016. Microsoft’s free-to-play Fable Legends also won’t see official release until 2016 after first planning an official release this holiday season. Fable Legends is currently in closed beta.

Other big games using DX12 are also due out in 2016 such as Far Cry Primal, Hitman, and Tom Clancy’s The Division.

While we wait for DX12 to make its presence felt, check out our earlier tests of DirectX 12’s graphics performance.


Ian Paul

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