Epic Games adds Vulkan support to Unreal Engine 4

February 22, 2016 // 4:15 p.m.

Tags: #epic-games #galaxy-s7 #gear-vr #khronos-group #opengl #opengl-es #protostar #samsung #tim-sweeney #unreal-engine #unreal-engine-4 #virtual-reality #vr #vulkan

Epic Games has announced that it has added support for the Vulkan 1.0 low-level API to the popular Unreal Engine 4, making it the first major game engine vendor to do so.

Launched last week as Vulkan 1.0 following a rapid 18-month development cycle, and based on code contributed by AMD from its retired Mantle project, Vulkan is designed as a next-generation successor to The Khronos Group's OpenGL API. Like Microsoft's rival Direct3D 12, Vulkan is designed as a low-level API: its chief advantages over OpenGL include lower driver overhead and greater ability to make use of many-core system processors and multiple GPUs. The result should, in theory, mean higher framerates for everyone - with particular benefit to those running on lower-end devices where the driver overhead gives a particularly heavy hit.

During Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event at the Mobile World Congress, Epic Games' Tim Sweeney confirmed that Unreal Engine 4 is the first major licensable engine to gain Vulkan support, including the ability to use Vulkan on mobile hardware. 'The new industry-standard Vulkan API brings key elements of high-end console graphics technology to mobile devices,' he told the crowd at the event. 'As the first engine supporting Vulkan, Unreal Engine 4 provides a solid foundation for developers joining in the mobile graphics revolution.'

The support comes with a new real-time Vulkan-driven 'real-time 3D experience,' which is a fancy word for 'tech demo,' running on Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S7 smartphone connected to the company's Gear VR headset: ProtoStar. The support for Vulkan, the company has claimed, allows the smartphone to support far more dynamic objects on-screen at any given time than would have been possible under OpenGL or its embedded variant OpenGL ES.

A run-through of the Vulkan-powered ProtoStar is reproduced below, though sadly only in two dimensions.

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