Google has announced that a new advanced graphics API is coming to the Android platform.
Vulkan is the name of a graphics API made by the people behind OpenGL, Khronos Group. Its purpose is very similar to Apple’s Metal API for iOS, namely to lower the overhead of graphical processing on mobile devices.
“Much of the work in graphics development goes into organising data so it can be efficiently consumed by the GPU for rendering,” explains Google in a recent Android Developers blog post.
“The APIs used to control these drivers are also not designed for multi-threaded use, requiring synchronisation with locks around calls that could be more efficiently done in parallel,” adds Google.
The result of all this is an unnecessarily large CPU overhead for rendering graphics. Vulkan is an open 3D graphics standard that’s being “designed from the ground up to minimise CPU overhead in the driver.”
In addition, Vulkan will enable apps and games to control GPU operation more directly.
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It’s still a work in progress, however, so don’t expect to see Vulkan implemented into Android M from launch. Google mentions that it will continue to support the existing OpenGL ES standard, which will continue to be the easier choice for many.
“As a developer, you’ll be able to choose which API is right for you: the simplicity of OpenGL ES, or the explicit control of Vulkan,” says Google.
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