#vulkan #vk #memory #allocator #ash


Rust ffi bindings and idiomatic wrapper for AMD Vulkan Memory Allocator (VMA)

8 releases

✓ Uses Rust 2018 edition

0.1.7 Apr 29, 2019
0.1.6 Mar 26, 2019
0.1.3 Dec 17, 2018

#23 in Graphics APIs

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vk-mem on travis-ci.com Latest version Documentation Lines of Code MIT APACHE2

This crate provides an FFI layer and idiomatic rust wrappers for the excellent AMD Vulkan Memory Allocator (VMA) C/C++ library.


Memory allocation and resource (buffer and image) creation in Vulkan is difficult (comparing to older graphics API-s, like D3D11 or OpenGL) for several reasons:

  • It requires a lot of boilerplate code, just like everything else in Vulkan, because it is a low-level and high-performance API.
  • There is additional level of indirection: VkDeviceMemory is allocated separately from creating VkBuffer/VkImage and they must be bound together. The binding cannot be changed later - resource must be recreated.
  • Driver must be queried for supported memory heaps and memory types. Different IHVs provide different types of it.
  • It is recommended practice to allocate bigger chunks of memory and assign parts of them to particular resources.


This crate can help game developers to manage memory allocations and resource creation by offering some higher-level functions:

  • Functions that help to choose correct and optimal memory type based on intended usage of the memory.
    • Required or preferred traits of the memory are expressed using higher-level description comparing to Vulkan flags.
  • Functions that allocate memory blocks, reserve and return parts of them (VkDeviceMemory + offset + size) to the user.
    • Library keeps track of allocated memory blocks, used and unused ranges inside them, finds best matching unused ranges for new allocations, respects all the rules of alignment and buffer/image granularity.
  • Functions that can create an image/buffer, allocate memory for it and bind them together - all in one call.

Additional features:

  • Cross-platform -Windows
    • Linux
    • macOS (MoltenVK)
  • Well tested and documented API
    • Underlying library ships in a number of commerical game titles.
    • Extensive documentation (including full algorithm descriptions in the VMA repository)
  • Support for custom memory pools:
    • Create a pool with desired parameters (e.g. fixed or limited maximum size)
    • Allocate memory out of it.
    • Support for a linear or buddy allocation strategy
    • Create a pool with linear algorithm and use it for much faster allocations and deallocations in free-at-once, stack, double stack, or ring buffer fashion.
  • Detailed statistics:
    • Globally, per memory heap, and per memory type.
    • Amount of memory used
    • Amount of memory unused
    • Number of allocated blocks
    • Number of allocations
    • etc.
  • Debug annotations:
    • Associate string with name or opaque pointer to your own data with every allocation.
  • JSON dump:
    • Obtain a string in JSON format with detailed map of internal state, including list of allocations and gaps between them.
    • Convert this JSON dump into a picture to visualize your memory. See tools/VmaDumpVis.
  • Support for memory mapping:
    • Reference-counted internally.
    • Support for persistently mapped memory; just allocate with appropriate flag and you get access to mapped pointer.
  • Support for defragmenting allocations:
    • Call one function and let the library move data around to free some memory blocks and make your allocations better compacted.
  • Support for lost allocations:
    • Allocate memory with appropriate flags and let the library remove allocations that are not used for many frames to make room for new ones.
  • Support for non-coherent memory and flushing allocations:
    • nonCoherentAtomSize is respected automatically.
  • Supporting for attempting to detect incorrect mapped memory usage:
    • Enable initialization of all allocated memory with a bit pattern to detect usage of uninitialized or freed memory.
    • Enable validation of a magic number before and after every allocation to detect out-of-bounds memory corruption.

Planned Features

  • Extensive unit tests and examples.
    • Some unit tests already, but not full coverage
    • Example isn't written - likely will port the VMA sample to ash and vk_mem
  • Record and replay allocations, for in-depth analysis of memory usage, resource transitions, etc
    • Check for correctness, measure performance, and gather statistics.


Basic usage of this crate is very simple; advanced features are optional.

After you create a vk_mem::Allocator instance, very little code is needed to create a buffer:

// Create the buffer (GPU only, 16KiB in this example)
let create_info = vk_mem::AllocationCreateInfo {
    usage: vk_mem::MemoryUsage::GpuOnly,

let (buffer, allocation, allocation_info) = allocator
            .size(16 * 1024)
            .usage(ash::vk::BufferUsageFlags::VERTEX_BUFFER | ash::vk::BufferUsageFlags::TRANSFER_DST)

// Do stuff with buffer! (type is ash::vk::Buffer)

// Destroy the buffer
allocator.destroy_buffer(buffer, &allocation).unwrap();

With this one function call (vk_mem::Allocator::create_buffer):

  • ash::vk::Buffer (VkBuffer) is created.
  • ash::vk::DeviceMemory (VkDeviceMemory) block is allocated if needed.
  • An unused region of the memory block is bound to this buffer.
  • vk_mem::Allocation is created that represents memory assigned to this buffer. It can be queried for parameters like Vulkan memory handle and offset.


For MoltenVK on macOS, you need to have the proper environment variables set. Something like:

export SDK_PATH=/path/to/vulkansdk-macos-
export VK_ICD_FILENAMES=$SDK_PATH/macOS/etc/vulkan/icd.d/MoltenVK_icd.json
export VK_LAYER_PATH=$SDK_PATH/macOS/etc/vulkan/explicit_layer.d
cargo test


Add this to your Cargo.toml:

vk-mem = "0.1.7"

and add this to your crate root:

extern crate vk_mem;

Compiling using MinGW W64

Vulkan Memory Allocator requires C++11 threads. MinGW W64 does not support these by default, so you need to switch to the posix build. For example, on debian you need to run the following:

update-alternatives --set x86_64-w64-mingw32-gcc /usr/bin/x86_64-w64-mingw32-gcc-posix
update-alternatives --set x86_64-w64-mingw32-g++ /usr/bin/x86_64-w64-mingw32-g++-posix
update-alternatives --set i686-w64-mingw32-gcc /usr/bin/i686-w64-mingw32-gcc-posix
update-alternatives --set i686-w64-mingw32-g++ /usr/bin/i686-w64-mingw32-g++-posix


Licensed under either of

at your option.

Credits and Special Thanks


Unless you explicitly state otherwise, any contribution intentionally submitted for inclusion in this crate by you, as defined in the Apache-2.0 license, shall be dual licensed as above, without any additional terms or conditions.

Contributions are always welcome; please look at the issue tracker to see what known improvements are documented.

Code of Conduct

Contribution to the vk-mem crate is organized under the terms of the Contributor Covenant, the maintainer of vk-mem, @gwihlidal, promises to intervene to uphold that code of conduct.


~80K SLoC