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Vulkan SC Overview

Vulkan graphics for the safety critical industry

Vulkan SC Logo

Work has started to create open, royalty-free API standards based on the existing Vulkan API specification to enable safety critical industries such as automotive, avionics, medical and energy to utilize advanced GPU graphics and compute acceleration!

If your company is involved in building safety critical systems, and you need to deploy GPU acceleration - you are invited to join Khronos to participate in the creation and evolution of this important open standard that could enable your business!

“Advanced graphics and compute functionality is being deployed into an increasing number of markets where safety is paramount, and so APIs designed to streamline the safety certification process are now a key part of Khronos’ standardization activities. OpenGL SC has been widely used in avionics systems, but now the wider embedded industry is demanding access to the latest GPU functionality. Vulkan is the ideal starting point for a new generation safety critical GPU API as its driver architecture is significantly more streamlined than OpenGL, as well as offering increased control of device scheduling, synchronization, and resource management,”
Neil Trevett
President of Khronos

Safety critical graphics are a key component for industries such as automotive, avionics, medical and energy. As display requirements become more advanced, safety critical graphics APIs must evolve to meet the industries’ needs. Khronos has lead the industry in developing graphics API standards for safety critical environments via its OpenGL®SC Working Group, which released the OpenGL SC 1.0 specification in 2005, and the OpenGL SC 2.0 specification in 2016. Now, automotive and other industries are seeking advanced GPU graphics, compute and display functionality that can be deployed in safety critical systems.

Safety Critical API Evolution

SC API Evolution Graphic

Working Group Goals

The Working Group was established in January 2019 to create open, royalty-free API standards based on the existing Vulkan API specification to enable safety critical industries to utilize advanced graphics and compute acceleration where failure would cause a significant increase in safety risk..

The new API will aim to be compatible with industry standards for safety critical software, such as: RTCA DO-178C Level A / EASA ED-12C Level A (avionics); FACE (Future Airborne Capability Environment) (avionics); and ISO 26262 ASIL D (automotive).

The API may also expose common GPU functionality, including encoding and decoding of video bitstreams, display control, and the integration of graphics and video with platform window and display systems.

The Working Group’s intention is to produce specifications, associated header files, a Conformance Test Suite, and a Conformance Process allowing implementations to demonstrate the implementation is conformant as per Khronos IP Framework.

Industry Support

“The modernization of vehicle cockpits includes advanced driver-assistance systems and an increased number of displays – all of which rely on safety-critical systems to provide real-time performance, safe rendering, and safe compute capabilities. The Vulkan Safety Critical Working Group is an important complement to Arm’s extensive functional safety portfolio, and together we can provide open, industry standard APIs for GPU acceleration to power these cockpit features.”

“Codeplay has a number of customers demanding safety for AI applications that require high performance ‘compute’, but with predictable performance. The most common example is self-driving cars, but there are a range of applications where safety and high compute performance are essential, including new intelligent medical devices. Surprisingly, given its videogame roots, Vulkan is a great solution to this challenge. Working with partners in the Vulkan Safety Critical Working Group to deliver a new safe standard is a very exciting opportunity for us.”

Andrew Richards
CEO, Codeplay

“CoreAVI’s safety critical Vulkan-based drivers and associated DO-178C DAL A and ISO 26262 certification evidences are important components in our platforms for safety certifiable applications. We are excited to chair the Vulkan Safety Critical Working Group and to be driving new standards that enable the deployment of safety critical graphics and compute applications.”

Damian Fozard

“Mobica's customers and partners are migrating to Vulkan for both graphics and compute applications. As the API has gained momentum, the need for a safety critical implementation to support automotive projects has become clear. We are pleased to be contributing to the efforts of the new working group and look forward to supporting both implementers of safety critical Vulkan drivers and application developers to create and deploy applications compliant with a safety critical API based on Vulkan.”

Jim Carroll
CTO, Mobica

“Mixing safety-critical with non-safety critical functions in the vehicle cockpit is addressed in the GENIVI cross-domain integration activities. Our Hypervisor project is developing a standards-based, open-licensed specification for diverse virtualization and operating systems called the Automotive Virtual Platform. We are looking forward to starting new collaboration with the Vulkan Safety Critical Working Group on the continued development of Vulkan to address the safety challenges of graphics virtualization.”

“GPU acceleration is vital in multiple domains where functional safety is required. The Vulkan Safety Critical Working Group can facilitate widespread industry adoption of new APIs for GPU capabilities in safety critical markets such as automotive.”

Khronos Safety Critical Advisory Forum

The Working Group will work closely with the Khronos Safety Critical Advisory Forum (KSCAF) which is open to any organization to participate, with no charge or Khronos membership obligations. KSCAF gathers insights and best practices to create guidelines to aid the design of safety critical APIs across multiple domains, including avionics and automotive industries.

How do I get involved?

Every Khronos member can participate in any Khronos initiative.

Learn more about joining Khronos | Contact us with Questions.

Read the press release