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Vulkan can now run on Mac as MoltenVK is now open source

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Not exactly Linux news, but still interesting since Vulkan is what will likely power many Linux games in future and having Vulkan on Mac could result in easier ports to Linux. The Khronos Group has worked with Valve, LunarG, and The Brenwill Workshop to make this happen.

Announced today by The Khronos Group, the MoltenVK project is now officially open source under the Apache License 2.0 and you can find it on GitHub right now. There's no fees or royalties involved, so any game developer can use it without any hassle—which is really great. Seems SDL2 has added some support for it already too.

I've spoken to a number of a developers over the last few years, with a few of them being quite worried about supporting Metal as well as Vulkan/OpenGL when doing ports. The extra time needed for yet another graphical API was cited as something of a concern (and a possible reason for some Linux ports not happening, due to the extra time vs market share), hopefully with MoltenVK now being open source we can get Vulkan on all platforms, to reduce the game porting burden.

From the official announcement, it seems Valve share that same feeling (with it helping to reduce porting costs):

“We have been running substantial production loads through the Vulkan tools on Mac, including Dota 2 which is now running faster than the native OpenGL version,” said Pierre-Loup Griffais at Valve. “These efforts are aimed toward reducing development and porting costs for any developer supporting multiple platforms.”. Valve also showed off this video to show the difference:

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With developers now having the ability to target one API, we may even see Vulkan adoption increase along with better performing ports. The more games that use Vulkan, the better tested drivers will be and the more developers will become familiar with it. Not only that, but if Apple is slow to react with Metal API updates that developers need (I've seen many complain about it already), developers can simply opt for Vulkan.

Worth noting though it's not fully complete yet, with certain limitations like Tessellation and Geometry shader stages not being implemented and more that you can see here.

Read more here in the official announcement. Again, not Linux-specific news, but it's hopefully going to be good for us in the long-run.

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36 comments
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FireBurn 26 February 2018 at 3:27 pm UTC
Hopefully this is the kick in the ass Apple needs to allow Vulkan on Mac & iOS natively
natewardawg 26 February 2018 at 3:36 pm UTC
I can see this being a huge advantage for us developers since we can have a consistent look across all platforms (especially if we can use the same texture formats eventually as well). Also, doesn't this also run on iOS, and not just macOS, per what I was reading in this article? https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=vulkan-on-mac&num=1

This means we can use Vulkan on all of the major platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS... that's a huge benefit!

I know they also benefit greatly from this, but still, thank you Valve for being generous by "convincing" them to open source this with company resources... IE. money
Asu 26 February 2018 at 5:00 pm UTC
omg i love valve!
lejimster 26 February 2018 at 6:04 pm UTC
When Vulkan was originally announced I was really happy to see it come to Apple and Linux. With Apple Mac having a larger market share (gamer wise) as of right now, it seemed a great thing. Then they had to go their own way with Metal. I just don't understand the thinking, they have made it harder to bring more games to their platform and potentially set Vulkan adoption back at the same time.

So this is a good development, and I hope porters/developers just target Vulkan from now on and ignore Metal as much as possible. I wonder what Feral think of this, since they have been working on bringing titles to Apple with Metal support.
Leopard 26 February 2018 at 6:17 pm UTC
lejimsterWhen Vulkan was originally announced I was really happy to see it come to Apple and Linux. With Apple Mac having a larger market share (gamer wise) as of right now, it seemed a great thing. Then they had to go their own way with Metal. I just don't understand the thinking, they have made it harder to bring more games to their platform and potentially set Vulkan adoption back at the same time.

So this is a good development, and I hope porters/developers just target Vulkan from now on and ignore Metal as much as possible. I wonder what Feral think of this, since they have been working on bringing titles to Apple with Metal support.

Simple Apple plan.

Don't adopt Vulkan , develop Metal.

Why?

Forcing devs to priotirize one platform to another: Android or Ios.

Apple made that mistake back in the days , with having OpenGL ES on Ios while Android has it too.

Apple only cares about Ios now , because people are joining to their ecosystem via Iphone's. Rest are there for milking money , forcing devs to buy Mac's etc.
Shmerl 26 February 2018 at 6:36 pm UTC
LeopardForcing devs to priotirize one platform to another: Android or Ios.

To put it in more concrete terms. To tax developers in order to discourage them from making cross platform releases. Supporting lock-in creates a tax, since it costs money, time and resources to break out of it.


Last edited by Shmerl at 26 February 2018 at 6:36 pm UTC
Alm888 26 February 2018 at 6:39 pm UTC
Good.
Basically this Apple failure works in our advantage. I hope in a few years no-one will remember Metal was ever a thing.
Purple Library Guy 26 February 2018 at 6:45 pm UTC
Excellent news. Vulkan being available on Mac could have a huge impact strategically in the medium term. It will increase the take-up of Vulkan itself and going forward should make releasing games for Linux a significantly more attractive option.
And the thing is, I've gotten the impression that Vulkan has really been . . . I dunno how to put it . . . kind of on the edge between major player and also-ran, at least in the desktop computing space. How it's going to pan out in terms of adoption is still up in the air; it hasn't stalled, but it hasn't come out a clear winner either. Adding Mac as a platform is just the kind of win that can tip developers' choices and move Vulkan into the clear winner column, a major platform seeing serious adoption and delivering on its promise.
And if that happens, game (and engine) developers will be looking at a situation where using Vulkan means easy releases on all the desktop computing platforms, Windows Mac and Linux, with little reason to leave Linux out. Probably good for Mac gaming too. Plans on whether to go Mac no longer run afoul of Metal and they include a probable easy addition of Linux as a little bonus. So not only does Linux get more of the Mac stuff, but there's likely more Mac stuff to get.
Admittedly, it seems the project has some missing bits so far--but since it's both important to a moderate number of players and open source so they can do something about it, I expect those limitations to be handled at reasonable speed. I can envision a future not so far distant where the dominant answer to the question "What platforms should we target and what graphical toolset should we use?" will be "We target all three, Windows Mac & Linux, because with Vulkan it's no big hassle."

Now all we have to do is get Sony to use Vulkan. Hey, weather keeps getting freakier, we could have a cold day in Hell any time!
GustyGhost 26 February 2018 at 6:52 pm UTC
lejimsterWhen Vulkan was originally announced I was really happy to see it come to Apple and Linux. With Apple Mac having a larger market share (gamer wise) as of right now, it seemed a great thing. Then they had to go their own way with Metal. I just don't understand the thinking, they have made it harder to bring more games to their platform and potentially set Vulkan adoption back at the same time.

So this is a good development, and I hope porters/developers just target Vulkan from now on and ignore Metal as much as possible. I wonder what Feral think of this, since they have been working on bringing titles to Apple with Metal support.

Their goal: exert greater control over the users, procure yet more lock-in. It's all about putting up artificial barriers.

Edit: Place your bets now, how long do you think it will be before Apple changes the Metal API in such a way as to conveniently break MoltenVK?


Last edited by GustyGhost at 26 February 2018 at 6:55 pm UTC
hardpenguin 26 February 2018 at 7:05 pm UTC
natewardawgThis means we can use Vulkan on all of the major platforms: Linux, Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS... that's a huge benefit!
Aren't you forgetting something? ;)

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