Glossary

The terms defined in this section are used consistently throughout this Specification and may be used with or without capitalization.

Accessible (Descriptor Binding)
A descriptor binding is accessible to a shader stage if that stage is included in the stageFlags of the descriptor binding. Descriptors using that binding can only be used by stages in which they are accessible.
Adjacent Vertex
A vertex in an adjacency primitive topology that is not part of a given primitive, but is accessible in geometry shaders.
Aliased Range (Memory)
A range of a device memory allocation that is bound to multiple resources simultaneously.
API Order
A set of ordering rules that govern how primitives in draw commands affect the framebuffer.
Aspect (Image)
An image may contain multiple kinds, or aspects, of data for each pixel, where each aspect is used in a particular way by the pipeline and may be stored differently or separately from other aspects. For example, the color components of an image format make up the color aspect of the image, and may be used as a framebuffer color attachment. Some operations, like depth testing, operate only on specific aspects of an image. Others operations, like image/buffer copies, only operate on one aspect at a time.
Attachment (Render Pass)
A zero-based integer index name used in render pass creation to refer to a framebuffer attachment that is accessed by one or more subpasses. The index also refers to an attachment description which includes information about the properties of the image view that will later be attached.
Available
See Memory Dependency.
Back-Facing
See Facingness.
Batch
A single structure submitted to a queue as part of a queue submission command, describing a set of queue operations to execute.
Backwards Compatibility
A given version of the API is backwards compatible with an earlier version if an application, relying only on valid behavior and functionality defined by the earlier specification, is able to correctly run against each version without any modification. This assumes no active attempt by that application to not run when it detects a different version.
Full Compatibility
A given version of the API is fully compatible with another version if an application, relying only on valid behavior and functionality defined by either of those specifications, is able to correctly run against each version without any modification. This assumes no active attempt by that application to not run when it detects a different version.
Binding (Memory)
An association established between a range of a resource object and a range of a memory object. These associations determine the memory locations affected by operations performed on elements of a resource object. Memory bindings are established using the vkBindBufferMemory command for non-sparse buffer objects, using the vkBindImageMemory command for non-sparse image objects, and using the vkQueueBindSparse command for sparse resources.
Blend Constant
Four floating point (RGBA) values used as an input to blending.
Blending
Arithmetic operations between a fragment color value and a value in a color attachment that produce a final color value to be written to the attachment.
Buffer
A resource that represents a linear array of data in device memory. Represented by a VkBuffer object.
Buffer View
An object that represents a range of a specific buffer, and state that controls how the contents are interpreted. Represented by a VkBufferView object.
Built-In Variable
A variable decorated in a shader, where the decoration makes the variable take values provided by the execution environment or values that are generated by fixed-function pipeline stages.
Built-In Interface Block
A block defined in a shader that contains only variables decorated with built-in decorations, and is used to match against other shader stages.
Clip Coordinates
The homogeneous coordinate space that vertex positions (Position decoration) are written in by vertex processing stages.
Clip Distance
A built-in output from vertex processing stages that defines a clip half-space against which the primitive is clipped.
Clip Volume
The intersection of the view volume with all clip half-spaces.
Color Attachment
A subpass attachment point, or image view, that is the target of fragment color outputs and blending.
Combined Image Sampler
A descriptor type that includes both a sampled image and a sampler.
Command Buffer
An object that records commands to be submitted to a queue. Represented by a VkCommandBuffer object.
Command Pool
An object that command buffer memory is allocated from, and that owns that memory. Command pools aid multithreaded performance by enabling different threads to use different allocators, without internal synchronization on each use. Represented by a VkCommandPool object.
Compatible Allocator
When allocators are compatible, allocations from each allocator can be freed by the other allocator.
Compatible Image Formats
When formats are compatible, images created with one of the formats can have image views created from it using any of the compatible formats.
Compatible Queues
Queues within a queue family. Compatible queues have identical properties.
Component (Format)
A distinct part of a format. Depth, stencil, and color channels (e.g. R, G, B, A), are all separate components.
Compressed Texel Block
An element of an image having a block-compressed format, comprising a rectangular block of texel values that are encoded as a single value in memory. Compressed texel blocks of a particular block-compressed format have a corresponding width, height, and depth that define the dimensions of these elements in units of texels, and a size in bytes of the encoding in memory.
Cull Distance
A built-in output from vertex processing stages that defines a cull half-space where the primitive is rejected if all vertices have a negative value for the same cull distance.
Cull Volume
The intersection of the view volume with all cull half-spaces.
Decoration (SPIR-V)
Auxiliary information such as built-in variables, stream numbers, invariance, interpolation type, relaxed precision, etc., added to variables or structure-type members through decorations.
Depth/Stencil Attachment
A subpass attachment point, or image view, that is the target of depth and/or stencil test operations and writes.
Depth/Stencil Format
A VkFormat that includes depth and/or stencil components.
Depth/Stencil Image (or ImageView)
A VkImage (or VkImageView) with a depth/stencil format.
Derivative Group
A set of fragment shader invocations that cooperate to compute derivatives, including implicit derivatives for sampled image operations.
Descriptor
Information about a resource or resource view written into a descriptor set that is used to access the resource or view from a shader.
Descriptor Binding
An entry in a descriptor set layout corresponding to zero or more descriptors of a single descriptor type in a set. Defined by a VkDescriptorSetLayoutBinding structure.
Descriptor Pool
An object that descriptor sets are allocated from, and that owns the storage of those descriptor sets. Descriptor pools aid multithreaded performance by enabling different threads to use different allocators, without internal synchronization on each use. Represented by a VkDescriptorPool object.
Descriptor Set
An object that resource descriptors are written into via the API, and that can be bound to a command buffer such that the descriptors contained within it can be accessed from shaders. Represented by a VkDescriptorSet object.
Descriptor Set Layout
An object that defines the set of resources (types and counts) and their relative arrangement (in the binding namespace) within a descriptor set. Used when allocating descriptor sets and when creating pipeline layouts. Represented by a VkDescriptorSetLayout object.
Device
The processor(s) and execution environment that perform tasks requested by the application via the Vulkan API.
Device Memory
Memory accessible to the device. Represented by a VkDeviceMemory object.
Device-Level Object
Logical device objects and their child objects For example, VkDevice, VkQueue, and VkCommandBuffer objects are device-level objects.
Device-Local Memory
Memory that is connected to the device, and may be more performant for device access than host-local memory.
Dispatchable Handle
A handle of a pointer handle type which may be used by layers as part of intercepting API commands. The first argument to each Vulkan command is a dispatchable handle type.
Dispatching Commands
Commands that provoke work using a compute pipeline. Includes vkCmdDispatch and vkCmdDispatchIndirect.
Drawing Commands
Commands that provoke work using a graphics pipeline. Includes vkCmdDraw, vkCmdDrawIndexed, vkCmdDrawIndirect, and vkCmdDrawIndexedIndirect.
Duration (Command)
The duration of a Vulkan command refers to the interval between calling the command and its return to the caller.
Dynamic Storage Buffer
A storage buffer whose offset is specified each time the storage buffer is bound to a command buffer via a descriptor set.
Dynamic Uniform Buffer
A uniform buffer whose offset is specified each time the uniform buffer is bound to a command buffer via a descriptor set.
Explicitly-Enabled Layer
A layer enabled by the application by adding it to the enabled layer list in vkCreateInstance or vkCreateDevice.
Event
A synchronization primitive that is signaled when execution of previous commands complete through a specified set of pipeline stages. Events can be waited on by the device and polled by the host. Represented by a VkEvent object.
Executable State (Command Buffer)
A command buffer that has ended recording commands and can be executed. See also Initial State and Recording State.
Execution Dependency
A dependency that guarantees that certain pipeline stages' work for a first set of commands has completed execution before certain pipeline stages' work for a second set of commands begins execution. This is accomplished via pipeline barriers, subpass dependencies, events, or implicit ordering operations.
Execution Dependency Chain
A sequence of execution dependencies that transitively act as an execution dependency.
External synchronization
A type of synchronization required of the application, where parameters defined to be externally synchronized must not be used simultaneously in multiple threads.
Facingness (Polygon)
A classification of a polygon as either front-facing or back-facing, depending on the orientation (winding order) of its vertices.
Fence
A synchronization primitive that is signaled when a set of batches or sparse binding operations complete execution on a queue. Fences can be waited on by the host. Represented by a VkFence object.
Flatshading
A property of a vertex attribute that causes the value from a single vertex (the provoking vertex) to be used for all vertices in a primitive, and for interpolation of that attribute to return that single value unaltered.
Fragment Input Attachment Interface
A fragment shader entry point’s variables with UniformConstant storage class and a decoration of InputAttachmentIndex, which receive values from input attachments.
Fragment Output Interface
A fragment shader entry point’s variables with Output storage class, which output to color and/or depth/stencil attachments.
Framebuffer
A collection of image views and a set of dimensions that, in conjunction with a render pass, define the inputs and outputs used by drawing commands. Represented by a VkFramebuffer object.
Framebuffer Attachment
One of the image views used in a framebuffer.
Framebuffer Coordinates
A coordinate system in which adjacent pixels' coordinates differ by 1 in x and/or y, with $(0,0)$ in the upper left corner and pixel centers at half-integers.
Front-Facing
See Facingness.
Global Workgroup
A collection of local workgroups dispatched by a single dispatch command.
Handle
An opaque integer or pointer value used to refer to a Vulkan object. Each object type has a unique handle type.
Happen-after
A command happens-after a dependency if they are separated by an execution dependency chain, with the command included in the destination of the last dependency of the chain. A memory barrier makes visible memory writes to commands that happen-after it.
Happen-before
A command happens-before a dependency if they are separated by an execution dependency chain, with the command included in the source of the first dependency of the chain. A memory barrier makes available memory writes of commands that happen-before it.
Helper Invocation
A fragment shader invocation that is created solely for the purposes of evaluating derivatives for use in non-helper fragment shader invocations, and which does not have side effects.
Host
The processor(s) and execution environment that the application runs on, and that the Vulkan API is exposed on.
Host Memory
Memory not accessible to the device, used to store implementation data structures.
Host-Accessible Subresource
A buffer, or a linear image subresource in either the VK_IMAGE_LAYOUT_PREINITIALIZED or VK_IMAGE_LAYOUT_GENERAL layout. Host-accessible subresources have a well-defined addressing scheme which can be used by the host.
Host-Local Memory
Memory that is not local to the device, and may be less performant for device access than device-local memory.
Host-Visible Memory
Device memory that can be mapped on the host and can be read and written by the host.
Image
A resource that represents a multi-dimensional formatted interpretation of device memory. Represented by a VkImage object.
Image Subresource
A specific mipmap level and layer of an image.
Image Subresource Range
A set of image subresources that are contiguous mipmap levels and layers.
Image View
An object that represents an image subresource range of a specific image, and state that controls how the contents are interpreted. Represented by a VkImageView object.
Immutable Sampler
A sampler descriptor provided at descriptor set layout creation time, and that is used for that binding in all descriptor sets created from the layout, and cannot be changed.
Implicitly-Enabled Layer
A layer enabled by a loader-defined mechanism outside the Vulkan API, rather than explicitly by the application during instance or device creation.
Index Buffer
A buffer bound via vkCmdBindIndexBuffer which is the source of index values used to fetch vertex attributes for a vkCmdDrawIndexed or vkCmdDrawIndexedIndirect command.
Indirect Commands
Drawing or dispatching commands that source some of their parameters from structures in buffer memory. Includes vkCmdDrawIndirect, vkCmdDrawIndexedIndirect, and vkCmdDispatchIndirect.
Initial State (Command Buffer)
A command buffer that has not begun recording commands. See also Recorded State and Executable State.
Input Attachment
A descriptor type that represents an image view, and supports unfiltered read-only access in a shader, only at the fragment’s location in the view.
Instance
The top-level Vulkan object, which represents the application’s connection to the implementation. Represented by a VkInstance object.
Instance-Level Object
High-level Vulkan objects, which are not logical devices, nor children of logical devices. For example, VkInstance and VkPhysicalDevice objects are instance-level objects.
Internal Synchronization
A type of synchronization required of the implementation, where parameters not defined to be externally synchronized may require internal mutexing to avoid multithreaded race conditions.
Invocation (Shader)
A single execution of an entry point in a SPIR-V module. For example, a single vertex’s execution of a vertex shader or a single fragment’s execution of a fragment shader.
Invocation Group
A set of shader invocations that are executed in parallel and that must execute the same control flow path in order for control flow to be considered dynamically uniform.
Local Workgroup
A collection of compute shader invocations invoked by a single dispatch command, which share shared memory and can synchronize with each other.
Logical Device
An object that represents the application’s interface to the physical device. The logical device is the parent of most Vulkan objects. Represented by a VkDevice object.
Logical Operation
Bitwise operations between a fragment color value and a value in a color attachment, that produce a final color value to be written to the attachment.
Lost Device
A state that a logical device may be in as a result of hardware errors or other exceptional conditions.
Mappable
See Host-Visible Memory.
Memory Dependency
A sequence of operations that makes writes available, performs an execution dependency between the writes and subsequent accesses, and makes available writes visible to later accesses. In order for the effects of a write to be coherent with later accesses, it must be made available from the old access type and then made visible to the new access type.
Memory Heap
A region of memory from which device memory allocations can be made.
Memory Type
An index used to select a set of memory properties (e.g. mappable, cached) for a device memory allocation.
Mip Tail Region
The set of mipmap levels of a sparse residency texture that are too small to fill a sparse block, and that must all be bound to memory collectively and opaquely.
Non-Dispatchable Handle
A handle of an integer handle type. Handle values may not be unique, even for two objects of the same type.
Normalized
A value that is interpreted as being in the range $[0,1]$ as a result of being implicitly divided by some other value.
Normalized Device Coordinates
A coordinate space after perspective division is applied to clip coordinates, and before the viewport transformation converts to framebuffer coordinates.
Overlapped Range (Aliased Range)
The aliased range of a device memory allocation that intersects a given image subresource of an image or range of a buffer.
Packed Format
A format whose components are stored as a single data element in memory, with their relative locations defined within that element.
Physical Device
An object that represents a single device in the system. Represented by a VkPhysicalDevice object.
Pipeline
An object that controls how graphics or compute work is executed on the device. A pipeline includes one or more shaders, as well as state controlling any non-programmable stages of the pipeline. Represented by a VkPipeline object.
Pipeline Barrier
An execution and/or memory dependency recorded as an explicit command in a command buffer, that forms a dependency between the previous and subsequent commands.
Pipeline Cache
An object that can be used to collect and retrieve information from pipelines as they are created, and can be populated with previously retrieved information in order to accelerate pipeline creation. Represented by a VkPipelineCache object.
Pipeline Layout
An object that defines the set of resources (via a collection of descriptor set layouts) and push constants used by pipelines that are created using the layout. Used when creating a pipeline and when binding descriptor sets and setting push constant values. Represented by a VkPipelineLayout object.
Point Sampling (Rasterization)
A rule that determines whether a fragment sample location is covered by a polygon primitive by testing whether the sample location is in the interior of the polygon in framebuffer-space, or on the boundary of the polygon according to the tie-breaking rules.
Preserve Attachment
One of a list of attachments in a subpass description that is not read or written by the subpass, but that is read or written on earlier and later subpasses and whose contents must be preserved through this subpass.
Primary Command Buffer
A command buffer that can execute secondary command buffers, and can be submitted directly to a queue.
Primitive Topology
State that controls how vertices are assembled into primitives, e.g. as lists of triangles, strips of lines, etc..
Provoking Vertex
The vertex in a primitive from which flatshaded attribute values are taken. This is generally the “first” vertex in the primitive, and depends on the primitive topology.
Push Constants
A small bank of values writable via the API and accessible in shaders. Push constants allow the application to set values used in shaders without creating buffers or modifying and binding descriptor sets for each update.
Push Constant Interface
The set of variables with PushConstant storage class that are statically used by a shader entry point, and which receive values from push constant commands.
Query Pool
An object that contains a number of query entries and their associated state and results. Represented by a VkQueryPool object.
Queue
An object that executes command buffers and sparse binding operations on a device. Represented by a VkQueue object.
Queue Family
A set of queues that have common properties and support the same functionality, as advertised in VkQueueFamilyProperties.
Queue Operation
A unit of work to be executed by a specific queue on a device, submitted via a queue submission command. Each queue submission command details the specific queue operations that occur as a result of calling that command. Queue operations typically include work that is specific to each command, and synchronization tasks.
Queue Submission
Zero or more batches and an optional fence to be signaled, passed to a command for execution on a queue. See the Devices and Queues chapter for more information.
Recording State (Command Buffer)
A command buffer that is ready to record commands. See also Initial State and Executable State.
Render Pass
An object that represents a set of framebuffer attachments and phases of rendering using those attachments. Represented by a VkRenderPass object.
Render Pass Instance
A use of a render pass in a command buffer.
Reset (Command Buffer)
Resetting a command buffer discards any previously recorded commands and puts a command buffer in the initial state.
Residency Code
An integer value returned by sparse image instructions, indicating whether any sparse unbound texels were accessed.
Resolve Attachment
A subpass attachment point, or image view, that is the target of a multisample resolve operation from the corresponding color attachment at the end of the subpass.
Sampled Image
A descriptor type that represents an image view, and supports filtered (sampled) and unfiltered read-only acccess in a shader.
Sampler
An object that contains state that controls how sampled image data is sampled (or filtered) when accessed in a shader. Also a descriptor type describing the object. Represented by a VkSampler object.
Secondary Command Buffer
A command buffer that can be executed by a primary command buffer, and must not be submitted directly to a queue.
Self-Dependency
A subpass dependency from a subpass to itself, i.e. with srcSubpass equal to dstSubpass. A self-dependency is not automatically performed during a render pass instance, rather a subset of it can be performed via vkCmdPipelineBarrier during the subpass.
Semaphore
A synchronization primitive that supports signal and wait operations, and can be used to synchronize operations within a queue or across queues. Represented by a VkSemaphore object.
Shader
Instructions selected (via an entry point) from a shader module, which are executed in a shader stage.
Shader Code
A stream of instructions used to describe the operation of a shader.
Shader Module
A collection of shader code, potentially including several functions and entry points, that is used to create shaders in pipelines. Represented by a VkShaderModule object.
Shader Stage
A stage of the graphics or compute pipeline that executes shader code.
Side Effect
A store to memory or atomic operation on memory from a shader invocation.
Sparse Block
An element of a sparse resource that can be independently bound to memory. Sparse blocks of a particular sparse resource have a corresponding size in bytes that they use in the bound memory.
Sparse Image Block
A sparse block in a sparse partially-resident image. In addition to the sparse block size in bytes, sparse image blocks have a corresponding width, height, and depth that define the dimensions of these elements in units of texels or compressed texel blocks, the latter being used in case of sparse images having a block-compressed format.
Sparse Unbound Texel
A texel read from a region of a sparse texture that does not have memory bound to it.
Static Use
An object in a shader is statically used by a shader entry point if any function in the entry point’s call tree contains an instruction using the object. Static use is used to constrain the set of descriptors used by a shader entry point.
Storage Buffer
A descriptor type that represents a buffer, and supports reads, writes, and atomics in a shader.
Storage Image
A descriptor type that represents an image view, and supports unfiltered loads, stores, and atomics in a shader.
Storage Texel Buffer
A descriptor type that represents a buffer view, and supports unfiltered, formatted reads, writes, and atomics in a shader.
Subpass
A phase of rendering within a render pass, that reads and writes a subset of the attachments.
Subpass Dependency
An execution and/or memory dependency between two subpasses described as part of render pass creation, and automatically performed between subpasses in a render pass instance. A subpass dependency limits the overlap of execution of the pair of subpasses, and can provide guarantees of memory coherence between accesses in the subpasses.
Subpass Description
Lists of attachment indices for input attachments, color attachments, depth/stencil attachment, resolve attachments, and preserve attachments used by the subpass in a render pass.
Subset (Self-Dependency)
A subset of a self-dependency is a pipeline barrier performed during the subpass of the self-dependency, and whose stage masks and access masks each contain a subset of the bits set in the identically named mask in the self-dependency.
Texel Coordinate System
One of three coordinate systems (normalized, unnormalized, integer) that define how texel coordinates are interpreted in an image or a specific mipmap level of an image.
Uniform Texel Buffer
A descriptor type that represents a buffer view, and supports unfiltered, formatted, read-only access in a shader.
Uniform Buffer
A descriptor type that represents a buffer, and supports read-only access in a shader.
Unnormalized
A value that is interpreted according to its conventional interpretation, and is not normalized.
User-Defined Variable Interface
A shader entry point’s variables with Input or Output storage class that are not built-in variables.
Vertex Input Attribute
A graphics pipeline resource that produces input values for the vertex shader by reading data from a vertex input binding and converting it to the attribute’s format.
Vertex Input Binding
A graphics pipeline resource that is bound to a buffer and includes state that affects addressing calculations within that buffer.
Vertex Input Interface
A vertex shader entry point’s variables with Input storage class, which receive values from vertex input attributes.
Vertex Processing Stages
A set of shader stages that comprises the vertex shader, tessellation control shader, tessellation evaluation shader, and geometry shader stages.
View Volume
A subspace in homogeneous coordinates, corresponding to post-projection x and y values between -1 and +1, and z values between 0 and +1.
Viewport Transformation
A transformation from normalized device coordinates to framebuffer coordinates, based on a viewport rectangle and depth range.
Visible
See Memory Dependency.