Khronos Group Begins Work on a New Standards Initiative to Bring Vulkan GPU Acceleration to Safety Critical Industries

All companies welcome to join Khronos and participate in creating a GPU acceleration API to ease safety certification in automotive, avionics and other industries

February 25, 2019 — Embedded World Conference —Nuremberg‎, Germany — The Khronos® Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies creating advanced acceleration standards, today announces the creation of the Vulkan® Safety Critical Working Group, to enable safety critical industries to take advantage of advancements in GPU graphics and compute acceleration, and display control, at the highest levels of safety integrity.

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 led 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.

In response to this industry demand, this new Khronos Working Group will 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. To best suit these market’s needs, 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).

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,” said Neil Trevett, president of Khronos.

With its primary technical focus being safety critical graphics and compute, the group will design for graphics and/or compute systems where failure would cause a significant increase in safety risk. 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.

In addition to Working Groups responsible for generating API specifications, Khronos hosts 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. All companies are invited to participate in KSCAF or join Khronos to get involved in the work of the Vulkan SC Working Group. See here for more information on joining Khronos.

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.” – Neil Stroud, director of automotive strategy, Automotive and IoT Line of Business, Arm

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, CEO, CoreAVI

"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." - Steve Crumb, executive director, GENIVI Alliance

"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

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.” - Kevin Flory, vice president of automotive software, NVIDIA

About the Khronos Group

The Khronos Group is an open industry consortium of over 140 leading hardware and software companies creating advanced, royalty-free, acceleration standards for 3D graphics, Augmented and Virtual Reality, vision processing and machine learning. Khronos standards include Vulkan®, OpenGL®, OpenGL®ES, OpenGL®SC, WebGL™, SPIR-V™, OpenCL™, SYCL™, OpenVX™, NNEF™, COLLADA™, OpenXR™ and glTF™. Khronos members are enabled to contribute to the development of Khronos specifications, are empowered to vote at various stages before public deployment and are able to accelerate the delivery of their cutting-edge accelerated platforms and applications through early access to specification drafts and conformance tests.


Khronos, EGL, glTF, NNEF, OpenVG, OpenVX, OpenXR, SPIR, SPIR-V, SYCL, Vulkan and WebGL are trademarks or registered trademarks of The Khronos Group Inc. OpenCL is a trademark of Apple Inc. and OpenGL and OpenML are registered trademarks and the OpenGL ES and OpenGL SC logos are trademarks of Hewlett Packard Enterprise used under license by Khronos. All other product names, trademarks, and/or company names are used solely for identification and belong to their respective owners.