Vulkan is one of the most popular graphics APIs, with cross-platform support, low-level hardware access, and no royalties. Android has allowed games to use Vulkan for years, and Google's new Stadia platform requires all games to use the API. Khronos Group (not to be confused with the Klingon homeworld), the organization responsible for developing Vulkan, has announced a new version that promises to make games even more efficient.

"This release," Khronos Group wrote in an announcement, "integrates 23 proven extensions into the core Vulkan API, bringing significant developer-requested access to new hardware functionality, improved application performance, and enhanced API usability."

Some of the key improvements in Vulkan 1.2 include timeline semaphores for easier synchronization, a standardized memory model for synchronization and memory options in different threads, and better support for HLSL. That last change is significant news for games ported from Microsoft DirectX (likely the case for many Stadia games), or games running in Valve's Proton compatibility layer.

Games have to be updated to take advantage of the new API features.

The new features mean there is greater potential for optimization in games, leading to improved performance in some cases. However, games have to be updated to take advantage of the new API features, so it will take a while to see widespread use of Vulkan 1.2. While driver updates with initial support are rolling out right now on Windows and Linux, version 1.2 might not arrive on Android until the next major update.

Google's Stadia team is excited about the changes, at least. "Vulkan 1.2 brings remarkable improvements for HLSL support in Vulkan and the increased flexibility and performance gains will enable developers to take greater advantage of the GPU than ever before. Stadia can’t wait to see how developers leverage the new timeline semaphore, descriptor indexing, and finer type subgroup operations in graphics and compute for their next generation titles," said Hai Nguyen, staff technical solutions engineer on Stadia.