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Microsoft reveals DirectX 12


sujith

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Microsoft and partners from Nvidia, AMD, Intel and Qualcomm showed off the next version of the DirectX gaming API, DirectX 12, at the 2014 Game Developers Conference today.



According to Microsoft officials, DirectX 12 will offer major improvements for developers across all Microsoft platforms: Windows, Xbox One and Windows mobile OSes. DirectX 12 seeks to enhance graphics efficiency for modern games by allowing developers to more easily spread tasks across multi-core CPUs, while reducing CPU "bottlenecks" that can reduce theoretical performance from dedicated video hardware.



Microsoft is also providing new tools for developers to access "lower-level" functionality of hardware, eliminating some of the performance hits caused by DirectX's communication between a game engine and system hardware. In 3DMark benchmarks, Microsoft estimates as much as a 50 percent improvement in CPU performance, though real-world results will likely vary.



This can provide a significant theoretical improvement to game performance, and is similar in many regards to AMD's Mantle technology, which has only been available to AMD GPU-owning consumers in Battlefield 4 so far. With DirectX 12, Microsoft is targeting a broader number of platforms — Nvidia suggested that many video cards running DirectX 11 are already compatible with DirectX 12, including the company's Fermi, Kepler and Maxwell series of cards.



Forza Motorsport 5 developer Turn 10 Studios showed off a version of the racing game running with Direct3D 12 on a PC powered by an Nvidia GeForce Titan Black, and according to the studio, bringing the title to DirectX 12 allowed it to run at a locked 60 frames per second. Microsoft claimed that DirectX 12 will also have more developed support for multiple GPUs — potentially including the ability for applications to use both CPU/GPU hybrid chipsets like Intel's Haswell and dedicated GPUs simultaneously.



Microsoft also stressed that DirectX 12 for mobile will increase power efficiency and allow for easier porting between console, PC and mobile.



Microsoft didn't give a specific date for DirectX 12-powered software, but estimated a "holiday 2015" window for games to ship using the API. Developers will have it sooner, with an official SDK later this year and an early access program before that. Microsoft didn't specify which versions of Windows would be supported with DirectX 12, though Windows Graphics developer Anuj Gossalia said they were aware of demand for Windows 7 support, and would speak more about that later this year.



The specifics of what DX12 does and how it does it are still emerging. It was unveiled a little earlier today at GDC, but there’s already a helpful post on the MSDN blog



The blog post pulls out a couple of examples. To quote, “3DMark on Direct3D 11 uses multi-threading extensively, however due to a combination of runtime and driver overhead, there is still significant idle time on each core. After porting the benchmark to use Direct3D 12, we see two major improvements – a 50 per cent improvement in CPU utilization, and better distribution of work among threads.”


dx12%202.jpg


MS reckons DX12 will be miles better for multi-threaded load balancing…



50 per cent lower CPU overhead. For the Forza Motorsport 5 Tech Demo, MS is talking about console-level efficiency on the PC. Again, shades of AMD’s Mantle.



Nvidia has been quick to say that DX12 will be compatible with all existing DX11-compliant GeForce GPUs. I haven’t heard from AMD, but I’m going to guess something similar holds. At the very least I’m certain any AMD GCN graphics chip will be compatible. That’s then architecture used in Xbox One, after all, which itself has AMD GCN graphics.


dx12%203.jpg


Best bit about DX12 is that it will very probably run on your existing PC



Source 1


Source 2


MSDN Blog


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I think it being compatible with DirectX 11 graphics cards is the best part of it. Goes to show that DirectX is more about software than it's about hardware. Talk about buying a new card just for the new DirectX.

Microsoft should have done this earlier though. While not many games rely on the CPU, many of the console ported ones do. In addition to that, we have had multi-core CPUs from years now. Having said, it's going to be welcomed by the gamers.

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If you run a supported version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, your system is automatically supporting a version of DirectX as well.

Depending on which Windows version you use, you may run DirectX 9.0c if you are running Windows XP, DirectX 10 or 11 if you are running Vista or Windows 7, DirectX 11.1 if you are running Windows 7 o Windows 8, or DirectX 11.2 if you are running Windows 8.1.

Microsoft announced DirectX 12 yesterday on the DirectX Developer Blog. The announcement concentrates on the Direct3D component and its new capabilities and features, and does not provide information about other components of interest, such as Direct2D or DirectCompute.

To demonstrate the capabilities of DirectX 12, Microsoft has run the benchmark 3DMark both on Direct3D 11 and Direct3D 12 to visualize performance improvements.

According to the development team, DirectX 12 offers optimized multi-thread scaling and a 50% better cpu utilization (running 3D Mark benchmarks, which is different from real-world applications).

This performance boost is accomplished by API improvements, especially in the three key areas pipeline state objects, command lists and bundles, and resource access.

This is all very technical, and if you are interested in those information, I suggest you visit the blog post linked above to find out more about it.

While developers are the main target, it is also of interest to gamers that use Microsoft products. Microsoft failed to address several important information about the new version of DirectX 12.

For instance, will it only be available for systems running Windows 8 and newer, or will it also be made available to users of Windows 7? It is very likely that Windows Vista is out of the picture here, considering that the operating system did not even receive DirectX 11.1 or DirectX 11.2. And since Windows XP support ends next month, it won't get the new DirectX 12 as well.

With Windows 8.1, Windows RT and Windows Server 2012 R2 being the only operating systems to receive DirectX 11.2 at this point, it is likely that Microsoft will make DirectX 12 a Windows 8.1 or maybe even Windows 9 exclusive.

Why Windows 9? Because the company estimates that first DirectX 12 games will be released at the end of 2015. This means that Windows 9 and Windows Phone 9, as it stands now, will be released before first games hit retail channels.

Windows Phone and XboxOne will also support DirectX 12 according to the blog post.

As far as hardware is concerned, Microsoft notes that most dedicated graphics hardware is capable of benefiting from DirectX 12, so that it is not necessary to buy a new GPU or PC just for that. Still, if you run Vista or Windows 7, then you probably will have to upgrade to Windows 8.1 or even Windows 9 to benefit from the new version of DirectX.

If DirectX 12 is a Windows 8.x or Windows 9 exclusive, would you switch to the operating system because of it?

http://www.ghacks.net/2014/03/21/microsoft-announces-directx-12-forgets-mention-compatibility/

Edited by anuseems
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