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Ashes is a drop-in replacement or ICD to Vulkan.
It allows to write Vulkan code, and to select the rendering API that will be used.
It also comes with ashespp, a C++ wrapper for Vulkan.
To build it, you can use CMake.

Renderers available

  • Vulkan: Ashes is a passthrough, when using Vulkan rendering API, and it has no additional cost if dynamic loader is used.
  • OpenGL: From OpenGL 3.3 to OpenGL 4.6 (Core profile), it can be used directly as an ICD.
  • Direct3D 11: From feature level 11.0.

Supported platforms

  • Windows.
  • Linux.
  • MacOS.

How to use it

Three workflows are possible:

ICD mode

Just set the environment variable VK_ICD_FILENAMES to one of the jsons in Ashes' install dir, and you're done.

Drop-in replacement mode

You load Ashes' shared library instead of Vulkan's, and you're done.
The API selection will be done on first call of vkGetInstanceProcAddr (for dynamic loader), or on first Vulkan API call (for static loader).

Manual mode

You can ask for the list of loaded plugins, through a call to the function int ashEnumeratePlugins( uint32_t * count , AshPluginDescription * plugins );.
It works as Vulkan ones : if plugins is set to NULL, count will then contain the number of loaded plugins.


The following API is available, in ashes.h:

typedef struct AshPluginFeatures
	// Whether or not the plugin supports buffer ranges.
	VkBool32 hasBufferRange;
	// Whether or not the plugin supports image textures.
	VkBool32 hasImageTexture;
	// Whether or not the plugin supports vertex base instance.
	VkBool32 hasBaseInstance;
	// Whether or not the plugin supports clearing of single images.
	VkBool32 hasClearTexImage;
	// Whether or not the plugin supports compute shaders.
	VkBool32 hasComputeShaders;
	// Whether or not the plugin supports shader storage buffers.
	VkBool32 hasStorageBuffers;
	// Whether or not the plugin supports persistent mapping.
	VkBool32 supportsPersistentMapping;
	// The plugin's maximum supported shader language version.
	uint32_t maxShaderLanguageVersion;
} AshPluginFeatures;

typedef struct AshPluginSupport
	// The plugin's priority (from 1 (low) to 10 (high)).
	uint32_t priority;
	// Whether or not the plugin is supported.
	VkBool32 supported;
} AshPluginSupport;

typedef struct AshPluginDescription
	//The plugin's short name.
	char name[16];
	//The plugin's description.
	char description[64];
	//The plugin's main entry point.
	PFN_vkGetInstanceProcAddr getInstanceProcAddr;
	//The plugin's supported features.
	AshPluginFeatures features;
	//The plugin's static functions (for static loader support).
	AshPluginStaticFunction functions;
	//The plugin's support informations.
	AshPluginSupport support;
} AshPluginDescription;

// Enumerates the available rendering APIs.
typedef void( VKAPI_PTR * PFN_ashEnumeratePluginsDescriptions )( uint32_t *, AshPluginDescription * );
Ashes_API void VKAPI_PTR ashEnumeratePluginsDescriptions( uint32_t * count
	, AshPluginDescription * pDescriptions );

// Defines the active rendering API.
typedef VkResult( VKAPI_PTR * PFN_ashSelectPlugin )( AshPluginDescription );
Ashes_API VkResult VKAPI_PTR ashSelectPlugin( AshPluginDescription description );

// Retrieves the active rendering API informations.
typedef VkResult( VKAPI_PTR * PFN_ashGetPluginDescription )( AshPluginDescription * );
Ashes_API VkResult VKAPI_PTR ashGetCurrentPluginDescription( AshPluginDescription * description );

From this, you can retrieve the supported rendering APIs, check the features they support, activate the one you want/can use.

Here is a small example, to select the rendering API from a command-line option:

#include <ashes/ashes.h>

AshPluginDescription * enumeratePlugins( uint32_t * pluginsCount )
	AshPluginDescription * result = NULL;
	ashEnumeratePluginsDescriptions( pluginsCount, NULL );

	if ( *pluginsCount )
		result = malloc( ( *pluginsCount ) * sizeof( AshPluginDescription ) );
		ashEnumeratePluginsDescriptions( pluginsCount, result );

	return result;

int selectPlugin( AshPluginDescription * plugins, uint32_t pluginsCount, char * option )
	int selectedPlugin = -1;

	if ( pluginsCount > 0 )
		char name[17];

		for ( uint32_t i = 0; i < pluginsCount; ++i )
			strncpy( name, "-", 16 );
			strncat( name, plugins[i].name, 16 );

			if ( strcmp( option, name ) == 0 )
				selectedPlugin = i;

	return selectedPlugin;

int main( int argc, char ** argv )
	uint32_t pluginsCount = 0u;
	int selectedPlugin = -1;
	AshPluginDescription * plugins = enumeratePlugins( &pluginsCount );

	for ( int i = 1; i < argc; ++i )
		if ( selectedPlugin == -1 )
			selectedPlugin = selectPlugin( plugins, pluginsCount, argv[i] );

	ashSelectPlugin( selectPlugin );

	// Now write classic Vulkan code.
	// ...


You can reach me on the Discord server dedicated to my projects: DragonJoker's Lair


Ashes is validated using Sascha Willems' Vulkan examples repository.
I've forked it, to be able to test the drivers.

Test applications

These applications are used to validate the basic functionalities of the ashespp library.

Device creation

Most basic example, initialises the logical device.

Swapchain creation

Another simple test, checking that swapchain creation succeeds.

Vertex layout

Tests vertex layouts, by displaying a coloured rectangle.

Staging buffer

Tests transfers to VRAM using staging buffers.

Texture 1D

Tests texture 1D load and display.

Texture 2D

Tests texture 2D load and display.

Texture 3D

Demonstrates load and display of a 3D texture.

Texture Cube

Loads a cube texture and displays it as a skybox.

Texture Buffer

Tests texture buffer load and display.

Compressed Texture 2D

Tests loading a texture 2D, compressed in either BC3, ASTC 8x8 or ETC2, depending on support by the rendering API.

Compressed Texture 2D Array

Tests loading a texture 2D array, compressed in either BC3, ASTC 8x8 or ETC2, depending on support by the rendering API.

Texture 2D Mipmaps

Tests loading a texture 2D and its mipmap levels from a file.

Texture 2D Mipmaps Generation

Tests loading a texture 2D from a file, and generating its mipmaps from level 0.

Uniform Buffers

Tests the usage of uniform buffers.

Push Constants

Demonstrates the use of push constants, by displaying two cubes with different colour modifiers, stored in push constants.

Render to Cube

Tests render to cube, by taking an equirectangular texture, and loading it into a skybox.

Frame Buffer

Tests frame buffers, and index buffers too.

Spinning cube

Tests depth buffer, depth test, and multiple uniform buffers.


Tests hardware instantiation, by rendering 1'000'000 cubes.

Compute Pipeline

Tests Compute pipeline, by processing the output of the PushConstants sample to add a graphical effect.

Dynamic Uniform Buffers

Takes the push constant test case and uses dynamic buffer descriptor instead of multiple descriptors.

Specialisation Constants

Tests the specialisation constants in Vulkan (matching them with uniforms in OpenGL renderers).

SPIR-V Specialisation Constants

Tests the specialisation constants in Vulkan and OpenGL renderers (as long as they support SPIRV shaders).


Bloom implementation using downscale through mipmaps.

Sample applications

Sample apps to implement

  • Compute particle system.

These applications use the library in a more complex way, closer to what would be done within an engine.

Object Loading

Loads an object, with textures, and displays it.


Applies lights to the previously loaded object.

Normal Mapping

Applies normal mapping.

Deferred Rendering

Deferred rendering implementation for opaque objects


Billboards sample.


Drop-in replacement for Vulkan shared library, for older hardware compatibility








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