Hardwired: Futuremark to release the first true DirectX 12 application


Futuremark has released the first official trailer for 3DMark Time Spy. Built from the ground up using a pure DirectX 12 engine, it makes use of all the fancy techniques we’ve been hearing and reading about such as asynchronous compute (Async Shaders), explicit multi-adapter support (the future of SLI/CFX) and multi-threading.

Usually we don’t write about the release of a new benchmark, but this one matters not in isolation but in the context of how all computers and components are and will be tested in future here at NAG.

DirectX 12 has possibly been the most significant, but most ill-received update to the famed API. There’s no denying that Microsoft couldn’t have communicated this advancement in a more inefficient and haphazard way. Beyond the poor communication, the execution has been marred by all sorts of limitations not entirely the fault of the API, but in how Microsoft chose to tie its initial outing to Windows Store games. Capped frame rates, the absence of multi-GPU support, no exclusive full-screen mode and a host of other issues were inevitably linked to the API by end users.

Rise of the Tomb Raider’s DX12 implementation didn’t help either as performance was worsened while providing no visual benefit whatsoever from using the API. These are but a few of the issues that understandably left a bad taste for so many. As such, 3DMark Time Spy is perhaps an opportunity for us to finally see what the API is capable of when the chosen application is built around the spec from the ground up. As such it’s already looking like the most impressive showing of the API we’ve seen to date, judging by this short video:

It looks stunning, featuring impressive polygon counts and high tessellation factors not seen in any other application.

We now have the opportunity as well to move away from Ashes of the Singularity and all its controversy. We can finally know which vendor has the best asynchronous compute execution approach: will it be NVIDIA and their insanely fast 100us context switching Pascal architecture, or will it be AMD’s GCN approach of concurrent execution? This benchmark will be able to tell us in an unbiased manner. Not that it matters for games, but for the sake of objective comparisons this latest update is important.


As we now have a single platform across consoles and PCs (both consoles are DX12-class hardware, even though the PS4 makes use of a different API. Both GNM and GNMX are by and large similar to OpenGL 4.4+ / DX12), the only difference is performance scaling, not features. Parity with consoles in this context is essentially what will allow PC gamers to take full advantage of their often more powerful hardware.

Futuremark has not released an official date for the release, but it looks to be in the coming weeks and not months. Until then there’s that video, which should give you some idea of what to look forward to. As soon as it’s available we will be integrating it into our benchmarks from top to bottom.

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