3. Initialization

Before using Vulkan, an application must initialize it by loading the Vulkan commands, and creating a VkInstance object.

3.1. Command Function Pointers

Vulkan commands are not necessarily exposed by static linking on a platform. Commands to query function pointers for Vulkan commands are described below.

Note

When extensions are promoted or otherwise incorporated into another extension or Vulkan core version, command aliases may be included. Whilst the behavior of each command alias is identical, the behavior of retrieving each alias’s function pointer is not. A function pointer for a given alias can only be retrieved if the extension or version that introduced that alias is supported and enabled, irrespective of whether any other alias is available.

Function pointers for all Vulkan commands can be obtained with the command:

PFN_vkVoidFunction vkGetInstanceProcAddr(
    VkInstance                                  instance,
    const char*                                 pName);
  • instance is the instance that the function pointer will be compatible with, or NULL for commands not dependent on any instance.

  • pName is the name of the command to obtain.

vkGetInstanceProcAddr itself is obtained in a platform- and loader- specific manner. Typically, the loader library will export this command as a function symbol, so applications can link against the loader library, or load it dynamically and look up the symbol using platform-specific APIs.

The table below defines the various use cases for vkGetInstanceProcAddr and expected return value (“fp” is “function pointer”) for each case.

The returned function pointer is of type PFN_vkVoidFunction, and must be cast to the type of the command being queried.

Table 1. vkGetInstanceProcAddr behavior
instance pName return value

*

NULL

undefined

invalid instance

*

undefined

NULL

vkEnumerateInstanceExtensionProperties

fp

NULL

vkEnumerateInstanceLayerProperties

fp

NULL

vkCreateInstance

fp

NULL

* (any pName not covered above)

NULL

instance

core Vulkan command

fp1

instance

enabled instance extension commands for instance

fp1

instance

available device extension2 commands for instance

fp1

instance

* (any pName not covered above)

NULL

1

The returned function pointer must only be called with a dispatchable object (the first parameter) that is instance or a child of instance, e.g. VkInstance, VkPhysicalDevice, VkDevice, VkQueue, or VkCommandBuffer.

2

An “available device extension” is a device extension supported by any physical device enumerated by instance.

Valid Usage (Implicit)
  • If instance is not NULL, instance must be a valid VkInstance handle

  • pName must be a null-terminated UTF-8 string

In order to support systems with multiple Vulkan implementations, the function pointers returned by vkGetInstanceProcAddr may point to dispatch code that calls a different real implementation for different VkDevice objects or their child objects. The overhead of the internal dispatch for VkDevice objects can be avoided by obtaining device-specific function pointers for any commands that use a device or device-child object as their dispatchable object. Such function pointers can be obtained with the command:

PFN_vkVoidFunction vkGetDeviceProcAddr(
    VkDevice                                    device,
    const char*                                 pName);

The table below defines the various use cases for vkGetDeviceProcAddr and expected return value for each case.

The returned function pointer is of type PFN_vkVoidFunction, and must be cast to the type of the command being queried. The function pointer must only be called with a dispatchable object (the first parameter) that is device or a child of device.

Table 2. vkGetDeviceProcAddr behavior
device pName return value

NULL

*

undefined

invalid device

*

undefined

device

NULL

undefined

device

core device-level Vulkan command

fp

device

enabled device extension commands

fp

device

* (any pName not covered above)

NULL

Valid Usage (Implicit)
  • device must be a valid VkDevice handle

  • pName must be a null-terminated UTF-8 string

The definition of PFN_vkVoidFunction is:

typedef void (VKAPI_PTR *PFN_vkVoidFunction)(void);

3.1.1. Extending Physical Device From Device Extensions

When the VK_KHR_get_physical_device_properties2 extension is enabled, physical-device-level functionality of a device extension can be used with a physical device if the corresponding extension is enumerated by vkEnumerateDeviceExtensionProperties for that physical device, even before a logical device has been created.

To obtain a function pointer for a physical-device-level command from a device extension, an application can use vkGetInstanceProcAddr. This function pointer may point to dispatch code, which calls a different real implementation for different VkPhysicalDevice objects. Applications must not use a VkPhysicalDevice in any command added by an extension or core version that is not supported by that physical device.

Device extensions may define structures that can be added to the pNext chain of physical-device-level commands.

3.2. Instances

There is no global state in Vulkan and all per-application state is stored in a VkInstance object. Creating a VkInstance object initializes the Vulkan library and allows the application to pass information about itself to the implementation.

Instances are represented by VkInstance handles:

VK_DEFINE_HANDLE(VkInstance)

To create an instance object, call:

VkResult vkCreateInstance(
    const VkInstanceCreateInfo*                 pCreateInfo,
    const VkAllocationCallbacks*                pAllocator,
    VkInstance*                                 pInstance);
  • pCreateInfo points to an instance of VkInstanceCreateInfo controlling creation of the instance.

  • pAllocator controls host memory allocation as described in the Memory Allocation chapter.

  • pInstance points a VkInstance handle in which the resulting instance is returned.

vkCreateInstance verifies that the requested layers exist. If not, vkCreateInstance will return VK_ERROR_LAYER_NOT_PRESENT. Next vkCreateInstance verifies that the requested extensions are supported (e.g. in the implementation or in any enabled instance layer) and if any requested extension is not supported, vkCreateInstance must return VK_ERROR_EXTENSION_NOT_PRESENT. After verifying and enabling the instance layers and extensions the VkInstance object is created and returned to the application. If a requested extension is only supported by a layer, both the layer and the extension need to be specified at vkCreateInstance time for the creation to succeed.

Valid Usage
Valid Usage (Implicit)
  • pCreateInfo must be a valid pointer to a valid VkInstanceCreateInfo structure

  • If pAllocator is not NULL, pAllocator must be a valid pointer to a valid VkAllocationCallbacks structure

  • pInstance must be a valid pointer to a VkInstance handle

Return Codes
Success
  • VK_SUCCESS

Failure
  • VK_ERROR_OUT_OF_HOST_MEMORY

  • VK_ERROR_OUT_OF_DEVICE_MEMORY

  • VK_ERROR_INITIALIZATION_FAILED

  • VK_ERROR_LAYER_NOT_PRESENT

  • VK_ERROR_EXTENSION_NOT_PRESENT

  • VK_ERROR_INCOMPATIBLE_DRIVER

The VkInstanceCreateInfo structure is defined as:

typedef struct VkInstanceCreateInfo {
    VkStructureType             sType;
    const void*                 pNext;
    VkInstanceCreateFlags       flags;
    const VkApplicationInfo*    pApplicationInfo;
    uint32_t                    enabledLayerCount;
    const char* const*          ppEnabledLayerNames;
    uint32_t                    enabledExtensionCount;
    const char* const*          ppEnabledExtensionNames;
} VkInstanceCreateInfo;
  • sType is the type of this structure.

  • pNext is NULL or a pointer to an extension-specific structure.

  • flags is reserved for future use.

  • pApplicationInfo is NULL or a pointer to an instance of VkApplicationInfo. If not NULL, this information helps implementations recognize behavior inherent to classes of applications. VkApplicationInfo is defined in detail below.

  • enabledLayerCount is the number of global layers to enable.

  • ppEnabledLayerNames is a pointer to an array of enabledLayerCount null-terminated UTF-8 strings containing the names of layers to enable for the created instance. See the Layers section for further details.

  • enabledExtensionCount is the number of global extensions to enable.

  • ppEnabledExtensionNames is a pointer to an array of enabledExtensionCount null-terminated UTF-8 strings containing the names of extensions to enable.

Valid Usage (Implicit)
  • sType must be VK_STRUCTURE_TYPE_INSTANCE_CREATE_INFO

  • pNext must be NULL

  • flags must be 0

  • If pApplicationInfo is not NULL, pApplicationInfo must be a valid pointer to a valid VkApplicationInfo structure

  • If enabledLayerCount is not 0, ppEnabledLayerNames must be a valid pointer to an array of enabledLayerCount null-terminated UTF-8 strings

  • If enabledExtensionCount is not 0, ppEnabledExtensionNames must be a valid pointer to an array of enabledExtensionCount null-terminated UTF-8 strings

typedef VkFlags VkInstanceCreateFlags;

VkInstanceCreateFlags is a bitmask type for setting a mask, but is currently reserved for future use.

The VkApplicationInfo structure is defined as:

typedef struct VkApplicationInfo {
    VkStructureType    sType;
    const void*        pNext;
    const char*        pApplicationName;
    uint32_t           applicationVersion;
    const char*        pEngineName;
    uint32_t           engineVersion;
    uint32_t           apiVersion;
} VkApplicationInfo;
  • sType is the type of this structure.

  • pNext is NULL or a pointer to an extension-specific structure.

  • pApplicationName is NULL or is a pointer to a null-terminated UTF-8 string containing the name of the application.

  • applicationVersion is an unsigned integer variable containing the developer-supplied version number of the application.

  • pEngineName is NULL or is a pointer to a null-terminated UTF-8 string containing the name of the engine (if any) used to create the application.

  • engineVersion is an unsigned integer variable containing the developer-supplied version number of the engine used to create the application.

  • apiVersion is the version of the Vulkan API against which the application expects to run, encoded as described in Version Numbers. If apiVersion is 0 the implementation must ignore it, otherwise if the implementation does not support the requested apiVersion, or an effective substitute for apiVersion, it must return VK_ERROR_INCOMPATIBLE_DRIVER. The patch version number specified in apiVersion is ignored when creating an instance object. Only the major and minor versions of the instance must match those requested in apiVersion.

Valid Usage (Implicit)
  • sType must be VK_STRUCTURE_TYPE_APPLICATION_INFO

  • pNext must be NULL

  • If pApplicationName is not NULL, pApplicationName must be a null-terminated UTF-8 string

  • If pEngineName is not NULL, pEngineName must be a null-terminated UTF-8 string

To destroy an instance, call:

void vkDestroyInstance(
    VkInstance                                  instance,
    const VkAllocationCallbacks*                pAllocator);
  • instance is the handle of the instance to destroy.

  • pAllocator controls host memory allocation as described in the Memory Allocation chapter.

Valid Usage
  • All child objects created using instance must have been destroyed prior to destroying instance

  • If VkAllocationCallbacks were provided when instance was created, a compatible set of callbacks must be provided here

  • If no VkAllocationCallbacks were provided when instance was created, pAllocator must be NULL

Valid Usage (Implicit)
  • If instance is not NULL, instance must be a valid VkInstance handle

  • If pAllocator is not NULL, pAllocator must be a valid pointer to a valid VkAllocationCallbacks structure

Host Synchronization
  • Host access to instance must be externally synchronized