“When we were looking to adopt Vulkan for Doom, the main question we asked ourselves was: ‘What’s the gamer benefit?’ Ultimately the biggest benefit will be high framerates,” id Software CTO Robert Duffy said in a blog on Monday. “There are a number of game-focused reasons super-high framerates matter, but primarily its movement and player feel. The game just feels amazing running that fast, so we made it a priority to try to really exploit the available hardware on PC.”
As a refresher, Vulkan is a new attempt at providing the best performance and the best visuals to PC games by opening up a somewhat direct channel between the game and the system’s hardware. It’s in the same API boat as DirectX and OpenGL, although this version is provided by the Khronos Group. Vulkan is open-source and provides very low hardware access for developers, similar to what they get on consoles. In a nutshell, this is a good thing, enough so that Microsoft took notes and is now providing something similar with Windows 10’s DirectX 12.
“This is the first time a triple-A game is releasing on a brand-new API and brand-new drivers so there may be a few bumps, but our testing is showing really great performance and stability,” Duffy added.
Support for Vulkan in Doom is now available in a patch unleashed on Steam. Once that is installed, players load up Doom as usual, but this time they will see a new menu that prompts the user to pick OpenGL or Vulkan. Later on, Doom players can switch back to OpenGL if needed by going into “Settings,” “Advanced,” and then “Graphics API.” The game will restart after that.
In order to get Doom running correctly on the new Vulkan API, players need to download shiny new unified drivers from Nvidia (v368.69 drivers) and AMD (v16.7.2 drivers). That said, AMD revealed to Digital Trends in a few performance figures that the game simply has better performance on Vulkan than when it’s using the older OpenGL API. The game saw a 127-percent increase in performance at a 1080p resolution, and a 123-percent increase at 1440p.
As a note of transparency, AMD’s tests were performed on July 6 using a system consisting of an Intel i7-5960X processor, 16GB of DDR4-2666 system memory, the new Radeon RX 480 card (local memory unknown), Radeon Software Crimson Edition driver 16.7.1, and a 64-bit version of Windows 10. The company doesn’t say if the “compatibility mode” toggle was turned on or off, but by default it’s always switched off.
As you’ll see by clicking on AMD’s link above, the drivers are freshly-baked and arrive after the set released last week fixing the Radeon RX 480’s power issue. These new drivers are optimized for Doom running on Vulkan. However, to be fair to Nvidia, the GeForce company released Doom optimized drivers back in May (365.19), and began fully supporting Vulkan starting with its GeForce Game Ready 368.69 driver set launched in June.
Live long and prosper, Doom fans.
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