Google announces it will use Vulkan for Android’s low-overhead graphics API

If you’re a developer, or a general technology nerd like ourselves, then you probably follow the news for things like APIs and other coding goodies. You may remember that not too long ago Apple announced that it will be using Metal starting with iOS 8, and that the next OS X version will be bringing that API to the Mac later this year. The newly released Windows 10 includes DirectX 12, which Windows Phone will soon be getting. So what about Android?

Well today Google has announced that Vulkan will be the company’s choice for low-overhead graphics API for Android. Developed by the Khronos Group, this is the company’s follow-up to their OpenGL ES, which Android supports, so it isn’t surprising to see Android picking up Vulkan support. This will improve performance by providing developers more direct access to the GPU. Developers can manage memory and multiple threads on their own instead of leaving it up to the driver. It’s more work in the end but it is also more flexibility developer can have when developing their game.

Following in the footsteps of Metal and DirectX 12, Vulkan will require both operating system support and hardware support. In terms of hardware, Vulkan should support any GPU that also currently supports OpenGL ES 3.1. This pretty much means any high-end Android phone or tablet this year should be fine.

Possible GPU Compatibility List:

– Adreno 400-series GPUs and newer
– PowerVR Series 6 GPUs and newer
– Nvidia’s Tegra K1 and newer
– ARM’s 700 and 800-series Mali GPUs

Google mentions in their announcement that they won’t be dropping support for OpenGL ES. In fact it will be the exact opposite, with Google continuing their support for OpenGL ES along with Vulkan at the same time. This way developers can use whatever they want. The only thing Google didn’t mention was whether this would be arriving right away with the release of Android M, which is more than likely that it won’t. The Kronos Group stated that Vulkan will be ready later this year though, so it should arrive with the next major version update for Android after Android M.

Websites Referenced: Android Developers Blog

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