The Khronos Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies creating acceleration standards, announced 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.

The consortium says that as display requirements become more advanced, safety-critical graphics application programming interfaces (APIs) must evolve to meet the industries’ needs. Khronos has  developed 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.

The new Khronos Working Group is expected to create open, royalty-free API standards based on the existing Vulkan API specification to enable safety-critical industries to use advanced graphics and compute acceleration. 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.

The group says it 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. 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.

“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,” said Neil Stroud, Director of Automotive Strategy, Automotive and IoT Line of Business, Arm.