Khronos Group have launched their Vulkan application program interface (API) today, offering developers a successor to OpenGL. Unlike DirectX 12, Vulkan is not tied to a specific operating system (Windows 10 in the case of DX12) and is “designed for portability across multiple platforms with desktop and mobile GPU architectures”.
For those who remember AMD’s ‘Mantle’ API, much of the work from Mantle transferred across to Vulkan. That said, it is not an AMD-specific release. Nvidia are also on board, and have released compatible drivers. You can find links to the relevant AMD and Nvidia drivers (as well as Intel and others) on the Vulkan page.
There are a number of demo programs to try out on the same page.
In terms of released games making use of Vulkan, the only one out there so far is The Talos Principle, which has patched in support for the new interface today. However, it’s at an early stage and presently runs a bit slower than the DirectX 11 equivalent. That’s expected to change over time, so don’t immediately write it off. There’s a useful Q&A page on Talos Principle’s Steam community hub.
Whether Vulkan takes off in gaming will depend upon how readily it is adopted, but in theory it could be a high-efficiency alternative to DirectX 11, and an OS-agnostic rival to DX12.