Vulkan Video API could help video editors be less terrible

The Vulkan API was an important milestone in computer graphics when it was first released in 2016. It provided a cross-platform competitor to Microsoft’s DirectX framework, becoming the true successor to the aging OpenGL architecture. Vulkan 1.2 was finalized over a year ago, and now a minor update is introducing something new — video support.

Kronos Group, the maintainers of the Vulkan graphics API, announced today that the Provisional Vulkan Video acceleration extensions are ready for developers to try out. Collectively known as ‘Vulkan Video,’ the technologies provide low-level APIs for games and applications to process video. The group wrote in the announcement, “leveraging the existing Vulkan framework enables efficient, low-latency, low-overhead use of processing resources, including distributing stream processing tasks across multiple CPU cores and video codec hardware—all with application portability across multiple platforms and devices ranging from small embedded devices to high performance servers.”

Those are a lot of big words, but the overall goal is to give applications that process video (video editors, web browsers, file converters, etc.) some of the same features that Vulkan offers to games and graphics tools. That includes low-level hardware optimization, standardized APIs, and open-source code samples for Windows and Linux. Vulkan Video already supports encoding and decoding H.264 video, with VP9, AV1, and H.265 compatibility expected to arrive soon.

However, Vulkan Video is still far from complete. Kronos is currently seeking feedback from developers, and the new APIs can be tested using NVIDIA’s beta Vulkan drivers. “Khronos will now work to finalize the Vulkan Video 1.0 specifications, SDK and conformance tests, so focus can then shift towards supporting additional codecs and more advanced video features,” the group said in a blog post.