The latest version of the Oculus Unreal Engine integration adds Vulkan support to Oculus Quest and Oculus Go. Unity noted that they will add support “later this year”.
What is Vulkan?
Vulkan is a low-level graphics API developed as the successor to OpenGL, which was originally released in the early 90s. Vulkan was developed by the Khronos group, a non-profit industrial consortium that includes large technology companies such as NVIDIA, AMD, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Intel.
Vulkan on Android has the same advantages as DirectX 12 on Windows or Metal on Apple operating systems. This is the official LLAPI for Android OS used on Oculus Go and Oculus Quest.
By giving developers access to a lower-level GPU, engines can achieve better performance because each application requires less CPU resources. In addition, Vulkan allows engines to properly take advantage of modern multi-core processors, which were not an important factor in creating OpenGL.
On Oculus standalone headsets, this can allow developers to add more detailed scenes, use longer distances when rendering, or simply increase battery life. It should also provide significantly faster start-up times thanks to pre-compiled shaders.
Vulkan Oculus Standalone Helmets
During a conversation at the GDC 2018 in April, Oculus told the public that Oculus Go would get Vulkan support thanks to custom GPU drivers made in partnership with ARM and Qualcomm.
In August 2018, the Oculus Mobile SDK added basic support for Vulkan. However, it did not yet support anti-aliasing or fixed foverated rendering.
These features were finally added late last month, paving the way for game engines to add Vulkan support on Oculus standalone headsets. This may have been triggered by the recent release of Oculus Quest, the first consumer standalone headset with room-based tracking and touch controllers.
Almost all Oculus Quest and Go applications are made using the Unity or Unreal Engine. The latest version of the Oculus Unreal Engine integration for Unreal 4.22 adds Vulkan support on both headsets.
Facebook claims that Vulkan reduces frame delay time from 16 ms to 13 ms, which improves performance by about 20%. The company also explained that Vulkan allows for HDR rendering.
Stay up to date with the latest innovations from the world of virtual reality with VRcue.