30.1. Layers

When a layer is enabled, it inserts itself into the call chain for Vulkan commands the layer is interested in. A common use of layers is to validate application behavior during development. For example, the implementation will not check that Vulkan enums used by the application fall within allowed ranges. Instead, a validation layer would do those checks and flag issues. This avoids a performance penalty during production use of the application because those layers would not be enabled in production.

To query the available layers, call:

 

VkResult vkEnumerateInstanceLayerProperties(
    uint32_t*                                   pPropertyCount,
    VkLayerProperties*                          pProperties);

If pProperties is NULL, then the number of layer properties available is returned in pPropertyCount. Otherwise, pPropertyCount must point to a variable set by the user to the number of elements in the pProperties array, and on return the variable is overwritten with the number of structures actually written to pProperties. If pPropertyCount is less than the number of layer properties available, at most pPropertyCount structures will be written. If pPropertyCount is smaller than the number of layers available, VK_INCOMPLETE will be returned instead of VK_SUCCESS, to indicate that not all the available layer properties were returned.

The VkLayerProperties structure is defined as:

 

typedef struct VkLayerProperties {
    char        layerName[VK_MAX_EXTENSION_NAME_SIZE];
    uint32_t    specVersion;
    uint32_t    implementationVersion;
    char        description[VK_MAX_DESCRIPTION_SIZE];
} VkLayerProperties;

To enable a layer, the name of the layer should be added to the ppEnabledLayerNames member of VkInstanceCreateInfo when creating a VkInstance.

Loader implementations may provide mechanisms outside the Vulkan API for enabling specific layers. Layers enabled through such a mechanism are implicitly enabled, while layers enabled by including the layer name in the ppEnabledLayerNames member of VkInstanceCreateInfo are explicitly enabled. Except where otherwise specified, implicitly enabled and explicitly enabled layers differ only in the way they are enabled. Explicitly enabling a layer that is implicitly enabled has no additional effect.

30.1.1. Device Layer Deprecation

Previous versions of this specification distinguished between instance and device layers. Instance layers were only able to intercept commands that operate on VkInstance and VkPhysicalDevice, except they were not able to intercept vkCreateDevice. Device layers were enabled for individual devices when they were created, and could only intercept commands operating on that device or its child objects.

Device-only layers are now deprecated, and this specification no longer distinguishes between instance and device layers. Layers are enabled during instance creation, and are able to intercept all commands operating on that instance or any of its child objects. At the time of deprecation there were no known device-only layers and no compelling reason to create one.

In order to maintain compatibility with implementations released prior to device-layer deprecation, applications should still enumerate and enable device layers. The behavior of vkEnumerateDeviceLayerProperties and valid usage of the ppEnabledLayerNames member of VkDeviceCreateInfo maximizes compatibility with applications written to work with the previous requirements.

Device layers can be enumerated by calling:

 

VkResult vkEnumerateDeviceLayerProperties(
    VkPhysicalDevice                            physicalDevice,
    uint32_t*                                   pPropertyCount,
    VkLayerProperties*                          pProperties);

  • pPropertyCount is a pointer to an integer related to the number of layer properties available or queried.
  • pProperties is either NULL or a pointer to an array of VkLayerProperties structures.

If pProperties is NULL, then the number of layer properties available is returned in pPropertyCount. Otherwise, pPropertyCount must point to a variable set by the user to the number of elements in the pProperties array, and on return the variable is overwritten with the number of structures actually written to pProperties. If pPropertyCount is less than the number of layer properties available, at most pPropertyCount structures will be written. If pPropertyCount is smaller than the number of layers available, VK_INCOMPLETE will be returned instead of VK_SUCCESS, to indicate that not all the available layer properties were returned.

The list of layers enumerated by vkEnumerateDeviceLayerProperties must be exactly the sequence of layers enabled for the instance. The members of VkLayerProperties for each enumerated layer must be the same as the properties when the layer was enumerated by vkEnumerateInstanceLayerProperties.

The ppEnabledLayerNames and enabledLayerCount members of VkDeviceCreateInfo are deprecated and their values must be ignored by implementations. However, for compatibility, only an empty list of layers or a list that exactly matches the sequence enabled at instance creation time are valid, and validation layers should issue diagnostics for other cases.

Regardless of the enabled layer list provided in VkDeviceCreateInfo, the sequence of layers active for a device will be exactly the sequence of layers enabled when the parent instance was created.