Nexus 9 will not be getting support for the Vulkan Graphics API
Back in February, the Khronos Working Group released the first public version of the successor to OpenGL: Vulkan. This graphics API promised to provide developers with a set of tools to significantly enhance performance in short by reducing overhead, providing more direct GPU control, and lower CPU usage. In addition, the graphics API shows great promise in enhancing the mobile gaming experience (if implemented properly). Google is listed as a member of the Khronos Group and had announced that it would be bringing support for the Vulkan graphics API in Android N (now known as Nougat). Indeed, with the release of the second Android Nougat Developer Preview, platform support for the Vulkan API was officially introduced.
Platform support for Vulkan, a new 3D rendering API that provides explicit, low-overhead GPU (Graphics Processor Unit) control and offers improved performance for draw-call heavy applications.
Support for Vulkan requires a graphics driver update, however, and unfortunately for owners of the Google Nexus 9, you will not be seeing such an update. In the recent Android Nougat AMA held over on /r/AndroidDev, one Redditor who goes by the username zxcvbad asked the Android engineering team the following question:
Surprisingly no Vulkan support on Nexus 9 as of now.
All previews been pushed already. Preview 4 supposedly was about finalizing APIs and preview 5 is the final one. In addition Nexus 9 haven’t got es3.2 support (Nexus 5X/6P, Pixel C got it long ago).
Noticed earlier: From N-DP2 release notes.
“Vulkan is only available to apps on devices with Vulkan-capable hardware, such as Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Nexus Player. We’re working closely with our partners to bring Vulkan to more devices as soon as possible.”
I’ve had a short conversation with Nvidia rep, asked if the drivers were ready on their end, he was positive. Makes sense especially all their K1/X1 devices were updated with newer drivers that supports Vulkan and ES 3.2 Bonus: Nexus 9 is now CTS approved on N-DP5 but still no presence of Vulkan. Display Driver is still 343.00 on the Nexus 9. Reported Android version is 7.0, API Level = 24, Build ID = NPD90G. Quite disappointing This means N9 driver wasn’t touched and it remains to have an outdated v343, there was no single driver update on Nexus 9
Expectations? We have no previews left to be pushed, only final Q3 release. I wonder if it’ll be enough time to test /possible Vulkan driver, or there won’t be Vulkan/ES3.2 support on Nexus 9?
Would be great to get clarification on this one.
And here’s the response from the engineering team:
Anwar: N9 will not be getting Vulkan drivers, but Pixel C has had them since the second N Developer Preview.
So there you have it. Nexus 9 owners will not be reaping the benefits of the performance enhancements available with the new Vulkan graphics API. We are not sure why the Nexus 9 is being shafted here, and Google’s answer to the Redditor did not shed any light on this matter. We hope that we’ll be getting a more definitive answer in the coming weeks before Android Nougat is officially released.