With Microsoft integrating DirectX 11.2 in Windows 8.1, it may come as a surprise to you that the company is already working on their next big jump in the graphics API with DirectX 12. At the Game Developer’s Conference to be held in San Francisco, California on 17-24 March, Microsoft along with partners AMD, Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm will be hosting talks about DirectX 12 which could be the most groundbreaking version of the API ever.
Previously, the speaker lists for GDC 2014 hinted that there would be discussions around APIs like OpenGL and DirectX moving towards a more multithreaded environment and removing driver overhead for weaker processors. AMD’s Mantle does this already but as has been seen with the release of Mantle for Battlefield 4, there is much work left to be done to get it to run without a hitch.
Mantle, however, is not just a concept but a working piece of software that allows for AMD’s Graphics Core Next-based GPUs to realise their full potential even on systems with weaker dual and quad-core processors. For years games have relied on stronger single-threaded performance to operate optimally and only a dedicated few developers will optimise their engines for multithreading on the desktop.
Microsoft, now fully aware of the public’s interest in such an API, will probably design DirectX 12 around the same elements as Mantle, allowing for higher draw calls in a single batch, lowering driver overhead, allowing for load balancing on multiple graphics cards and working towards better visuals and better performance. After all, we’re on the cusp of the 4K revolution in gaming and entertainment and every spare ounce of performance needs to be harnessed to make 4K a worthwhile investment.
Currently, however, no graphics cards exist that can take advantage of DirectX 12. Nvidia’s GPUs, even the recently-launched Maxwell-based GTX750 Ti, aren’t capable of running the full version of DirectX 11.2. AMD’s GCN-based Radeons, however, are fully compatible with DirectX 11.2.
It’ll have to be a new next-generation family of GPUs that will power DirectX 12 titles. For now, DX11 is still the defacto standard for developers targeting gamers on newer platforms.
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