Linux-based Steam machines and mobile devices will get enhanced graphics due to the upcoming Vulkan API (application programming interface).
Vulkan is useful in many applications, but games benefit from it more than all. It performs the same actions as DirectX does for Windows, but it is far better adapt to new technologies.
Vulkan is a welcome upgrade to OpenGL, which starts to show its age, 25 years after its launch.
In spite of lacking an official release date from Khronos, Vulkan's developer, insiders claim that the API is almost ready to go live.
The Vulkan API should ensure that Mac systems, Linux and mobile devices get better visuals in games. What is more, games will use system resources more judiciously as well as save more battery life in mobile devices and laptops.
The new API's uses could extend beyond gaming. From virtual reality headsets to robots and from smart cars to drones, all rely on visual computing. This means that apps for all the devices could be coded with the API.
One great advantage of Vulkan is that it is a low-level API which packs closer interaction with hardware than OpenGL. Vulkan utilizes fewer steps when "talking" to the hardware, so multi-core processors and high-performance GPUs will pull more power from the API.
Another difference is that Vulkan allows coders to request a specific type of rendering mechanism from the GPUs, which OpenGL did not. OpenGL relied on the hardware's default rendering process.
Porting games between different platforms will be easier and more consistent with the help of Vulkan.
Lately, a lot of big names in the tech industry focused on developing low-level APIs, such as DirectX 12, AMD's GPUOpen or Metal from Apple.
Vulkan, aside from being a low-level API, has the advantage that it works across multiple hardware ecosystems. It does share a root with OpenGL, which in turn differentiates itself by being hardware agnostic.
Intel and AMD, two of the companies that back Vulkan, said that they plan on rolling out open-source drivers. Imagination Technologies, the enterprise that provides Apple devices with GPUs will showcase Vulkan's capabilities at the Mobile World Congress show that is around the corner.
Nvidia is also hosting discussion sessions about Vulkan in April, at its GPU Technology conference.
Vulkan SDKs will be available for Windows, Android and Linux, according to Khronos' website.