4.3. Queues

4.3.1. Queue Family Properties

As discussed in the Physical Device Enumeration section above, the vkGetPhysicalDeviceQueueFamilyProperties command is used to retrieve details about the queue families and queues supported by a device.

Each index in the pQueueFamilyProperties array returned by vkGetPhysicalDeviceQueueFamilyProperties describes a unique queue family on that physical device. These indices are used when creating queues, and they correspond directly with the queueFamilyIndex that is passed to the vkCreateDevice command via the VkDeviceQueueCreateInfo structure as described in the Queue Creation section below.

Grouping of queue families within a physical device is implementation-dependent.


The general expectation is that a physical device groups all queues of matching capabilities into a single family. However, this is a recommendation to implementations and it is possible that a physical device may return two separate queue families with the same capabilities.

Once an application has identified a physical device with the queue(s) that it desires to use, it will create those queues in conjunction with a logical device. This is described in the following section.

4.3.2. Queue Creation

Creating a logical device also creates the queues associated with that device. The queues to create are described by a set of VkDeviceQueueCreateInfo structures that are passed to vkCreateDevice in pQueueCreateInfos.

The VkDeviceQueueCreateInfo structure is defined as:


typedef struct VkDeviceQueueCreateInfo {
    VkStructureType             sType;
    const void*                 pNext;
    VkDeviceQueueCreateFlags    flags;
    uint32_t                    queueFamilyIndex;
    uint32_t                    queueCount;
    const float*                pQueuePriorities;
} VkDeviceQueueCreateInfo;

  • sType is the type of this structure.
  • pNext is NULL or a pointer to an extension-specific structure.
  • flags is reserved for future use.
  • queueFamilyIndex is an unsigned integer indicating the index of the queue family to create on this device. This index corresponds to the index of an element of the pQueueFamilyProperties array that was returned by vkGetPhysicalDeviceQueueFamilyProperties.
  • queueCount is an unsigned integer specifying the number of queues to create in the queue family indicated by queueFamilyIndex.
  • pQueuePriorities is an array of queueCount normalized floating point values, specifying priorities of work that will be submitted to each created queue. See Queue Priority for more information.

To retrieve a handle to a VkQueue object, call:


void vkGetDeviceQueue(
    VkDevice                                    device,
    uint32_t                                    queueFamilyIndex,
    uint32_t                                    queueIndex,
    VkQueue*                                    pQueue);

  • device is the logical device that owns the queue.
  • queueFamilyIndex is the index of the queue family to which the queue belongs.
  • queueIndex is the index within this queue family of the queue to retrieve.
  • pQueue is a pointer to a VkQueue object that will be filled with the handle for the requested queue.

4.3.3. Queue Family Index

The queue family index is used in multiple places in Vulkan in order to tie operations to a specific family of queues.

When retrieving a handle to the queue via vkGetDeviceQueue, the queue family index is used to select which queue family to retrieve the VkQueue handle from as described in the previous section.

When creating a VkCommandPool object (see Command Pools), a queue family index is specified in the VkCommandPoolCreateInfo structure. Command buffers from this pool can only be submitted on queues corresponding to this queue family.

When creating VkImage (see Images) and VkBuffer (see Buffers) resources, a set of queue families is included in the VkImageCreateInfo and VkBufferCreateInfo structures to specify the queue families that can access the resource.

When inserting a VkBufferMemoryBarrier or VkImageMemoryBarrier (see Section 6.3, “Events”) a source and destination queue family index is specified to allow the ownership of a buffer or image to be transferred from one queue family to another. See the Resource Sharing section for details.

4.3.4. Queue Priority

Each queue is assigned a priority, as set in the VkDeviceQueueCreateInfo structures when creating the device. The priority of each queue is a normalized floating point value between 0.0 and 1.0, which is then translated to a discrete priority level by the implementation. Higher values indicate a higher priority, with 0.0 being the lowest priority and 1.0 being the highest.

Within the same device, queues with higher priority may be allotted more processing time than queues with lower priority. The implementation makes no guarantees with regards to ordering or scheduling among queues with the same priority, other than the constraints defined by explicit scheduling primitives. The implementation make no guarantees with regards to queues across different devices.

An implementation may allow a higher-priority queue to starve a lower-priority queue on the same VkDevice until the higher-priority queue has no further commands to execute. The relationship of queue priorities must not cause queues on one VkDevice to starve queues on another VkDevice.

No specific guarantees are made about higher priority queues receiving more processing time or better quality of service than lower priority queues.

4.3.5. Queue Submission

Work is submitted to a queue via queue submission commands such as vkQueueSubmit. Queue submission commands define a set of queue operations to be executed by the underlying physical device, including synchronization with semaphores and fences.

Submission commands take as parameters a target queue, zero or more batches of work, and an optional fence to signal upon completion. Each batch consists of three distinct parts:

  1. Zero or more semaphores to wait on before execution of the rest of the batch.

  2. Zero or more work items to execute.

    • If present, these describe a queue operation matching the work described.
  3. Zero or more semaphores to signal upon completion of the work items.

If a fence is present in a queue submission, it describes a fence signal operation.

All work described by a queue submission command must be submitted to the queue before the command returns.

Sparse Memory Binding

In Vulkan it is possible to sparsely bind memory to buffers and images as described in the Sparse Resource chapter. Sparse memory binding is a queue operation. A queue whose flags include the VK_QUEUE_SPARSE_BINDING_BIT must be able to support the mapping of a virtual address to a physical address on the device. This causes an update to the page table mappings on the device. This update must be synchronized on a queue to avoid corrupting page table mappings during execution of graphics commands. By binding the sparse memory resources on queues, all commands that are dependent on the updated bindings are synchronized to only execute after the binding is updated. See the Synchronization and Cache Control chapter for how this synchronization is accomplished.

4.3.6. Queue Destruction

Queues are created along with a logical device during vkCreateDevice. All queues associated with a logical device are destroyed when vkDestroyDevice is called on that device.