Khronos Group’s Vulkan GPU API is coming to macOS and iOS, but no thanks to Apple

“Vulkan — the open, cross-platform GPU API from the Khronos Group, the industry body that also develops OpenGL — is available on Windows, Linux, Android, the Nintendo Switch, and cloud systems, but it has one sizeable gap: none of Apple’s platforms support it,” Peter Bright reports for Ars Technica. “macOS has old, and slow, OpenGL drivers, and iOS supports OpenGL ES, the OpenGL subset designed for embedded systems. Apple has thus far shown no interest in offering the modern Vulkan API and instead has pushed its own proprietary API, Metal.”

“Today, that gap is being substantially filled, with the open source, royalty-free release of MoltenVK — a runtime for macOS and iOS that offers an almost complete subset of the Vulkan API implemented using Metal,” Bright reports. “Released under the Apache 2 license, MoltenVK will enable developers to build their Vulkan applications for Apple’s platforms, allowing for a single codebase to span Windows, Linux, Android, macOS, iOS, and more.”

Bright reports, “Valve is an early adopter of MoltenVK. The company has been testing MoltenVK for the macOS version of Dota 2, and indications are extremely promising: the Vulkan-on-Metal version of the game has frame rates as much as 50 percent higher than the version using Apple’s OpenGL stack.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Good news for Mac and iOS gamers?


  1. Doesn’t anyone realise that when apple doesn’t support a standard it’s usually because their in house solution is better? Vulkan still has major issues with overhead and efficiency, and that’s what Metal eliminates. If Vulkan wa the better solution for macOS and iOS, Apple would’ve adopted it, but there is no reason to now and since Metal is used for iOS games en masse, there’s no reason to switch. When Vulkan matures in the next few years, the Radeon Cards in curent Macs support it very well, and can switch pretty easily, this isn’t a problem that needed solved.

  2. Most of the complaints I’ve heard about Apple’s graphics solution has to do with not being able to use NVidia GPUs and I honestly don’t understand why Apple is so set on AMD Radeon cards and their higher thermal requirements. Apple always has to try to stick their GPUs in some tiny-ass space where they can’t get any decent air flow so thermal-throttling rears its ugly head. Why shouldn’t Apple users have a choice of various make video cards? If Radeon GPUs were as powerful and ran as cool as NVidia GPUs, I wouldn’t say anything. However, I think Apple should be able to provide users with the best hardware possible if they’re going to charge premium prices.

    I’m not a person interested in gaming, so the Radeon Vega is good enough for me, but it would be wiser for Apple to use a GPU with lower power requirements if they’re going to put it in an iMac-size case. If a person pushes any CPU or GPU hard enough in an area with low airflow, it’s going to thermal throttle, so at least begin with hardware that runs cooler.

    I think Apple desktops are really nice but it’s just that they seem to pale in comparison to Windows PCs in terms of brute force. I really hate hearing the recurring and tired tale of some $2000 Windows PC running circles around some $5000 Apple computer. I’m happily willing to trade outright processing power for longevity and trouble-free operation, but that’s just me.

    I just think if Apple builds a Mac Pro and charges a premium for it, then it better be the most powerful desktop computer money can buy or Apple will never hear the end of it. I’ve heard rumors that the iMac Pro is selling quite well and I hope those rumors are correct. I definitely like that iMac Pro and I certainly want to own one. I may have to wait until I can get a refurbished one but that’s OK with me.

    1. I’m with you on that, but their implementation of Vega in the iMac pro is much less power hungry than the reference cards from AMD & other manufacturers, we just purchased 6 of them and they are powerful, quiet, and not very energy hungry, quite surprising actually. We still have two 2012 Mac Pro’s that are using a Titan Xp (the most recent quadro drivers for high sierra work very well) & an Rx Vega 64 off the shelf card respectively, and these are both much more power hungry than the iMac pro. Also our MacBook Pro’s with the newer Radeon pro cards use much less energy at full whack than their predecessors, and our equivalent PC notebooks (which run Nvidia graphics), I’m not certain is AMD does the custom work for Apple or Apple does it themselves, but they do use much less power than their off the shelf parts.

      As far as Nvidia goes, there are only a few applications that really benefit from CUDA acceleration professionally, so unless you’re using one of those the AMD cards are much better for rendering, 3D CAD work, OpenCL, etc. At least this has been our experience. If you want good single thread floating point graphics performance for gaming however, Nvidia is the way to go, they’re good at that.

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