When Vulkan first hit the scene back in 2015, it was all over the place in terms of hardware and software support. Now that more parties have begun implementing and using it, however, things are getting pretty interesting. As originally envisioned and promised by the Khronos Group, Vulkan is, on the platforms and software it’s found its way onto thus far, proving itself a superior solution that is often matching and beating the likes of OpenGL and DirectX 12. Gamers can add their phones to the list of devices where they’ll see Vulkan strutting its stuff in the near future. OpenGL ES is the current gold standard for all kinds of 3D mobile apps, and a test video shows Vulkan giving it a royal stomping in power efficiency while the two run the same 3D test.
The gauntlet ran each API through a series of three tests. During the first, a still, foggy, and distant cityscape, resource usage for both APIs remained somewhat low, but whereas the OpenGL ES test terminal’s CPU usage hovered around 25% on a single core with middling energy usage, Vulkan stayed closer to zero, with all four cores active, but barely moving. The energy usage in total was close to 20% lower than OpenGL ES. This pattern continued in the second test, where OpenGL ES hovered around and occasionally exceeded 50% use, with one core active and the other three somewhat underutilized, while zooming around a cityscape. Naturally, Vulkan’s usage here was just shy of 10% per core most of the time.
The final and most intensive test was rendering a construction zone piecemeal and flying around it at various angles. Here, OpenGL ES matched and outperformed Vulkan in energy use at times, but in the end, Vulkan triumphed, nabbing a total of 15% energy savings over OpenGL ES when the exercise was all said and done. Vulkan still has a lot of work to do as far as implementation and optimization, but it is certainly safe to say at this stage that it’s ready for primetime. Vulkan already offers marked improvements over its contemporaries in hardcore 3D usage, even if those improvements can be minimal at times. The main kicker right now is waiting for developers to start using it, since Vulkan is supported on almost all 64-bit Android devices as of Android 7.0 (Nougat), with some even boasting early support. The API will also be an integral part of Daydream VR.