DirectX 12 will elevate Games for Windows 10 further, says Microsoft

26 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

DirectX 12 Is Integrated Into Windows 10 But Not Operational Yet.

Poking around the fresh Windows 10 build last night, I found an interesting new feature that Joe Belfiore didn’t mentioned in his announcement post: DirectX 12 is already baked into the operating system. If you’ve followed this column or any other site focused on PC gaming, you’ve no doubt read about Futuremark’s 3DMark, a benchmarking application that tests the gaming performance of your system by putting your CPU and GPU through some rigorous graphical and computing calisthenics.With Microsoft announcing Windows 10, more details have been revealed about the upcoming software that will be available for free to Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 users during its first year of sale.Ever since the Windows 10 event that took place earlier this week, there is a lot of expectation regarding DirectX 12 and how it can possibly change the games development scene on Xbox One and PC.

Simultaneously, the company announced that they had its newest DirectX 12 APIs in pipeline along with Windows 10, which Microsoft believes will completely change the gaming landscape on Windows ecosystem. The PC gaming site Rock Paper Shotgun threw people into panic mode when it reported that current GPUs—including cards purchased within the past few months—would not work with DX12. “Microsoft’s recent demonstration of a few new Windows 10 game experiences powered by DirectX12 has led some people to ask what specific hardware will be supported by the DirectX12 API,” Kam VedBrat, Microsoft’s Group Manager for DirectX, told me via email. “While we are not yet ready to detail everything related to DirectX12, we can share that we are working closely with all of our hardware partners to help ensure that most modern PC gaming hardware will work well with DirectX12, including; nVidia’s Maxwell, Kepler and Fermi-based GPUs, Intel’s 4th generation (and newer) Core processors and AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) based GPUs.

Today during a Windows 10 press conference, Microsoft reiterated the promise that for CPU-bound games (such as the majority of MMOs) DirectX12 will deliver up to 50% better performance. Specifically, the company noted that there would be no need for upgrading any graphics cards that are currently in systems, and that at the end of the day – this update will simply deliver a better gaming experience. However, it was DirectX 12 that caught the attention of people interested in PC gaming and a report confirms that this API is exclusive to Windows 10.

DX12 will allegedly also use half the power consumption of DX11, which could mean more devices we view as traditionally “mobile” would be able to run high-end games with lower-end hardware. The voice assistant can be used for searching files including searching photos in a specific time frame, dictate, sending emails and weather forecasts.

In the very near future we’ll get to start testing those claims for ourselves with an updated version of 3DMark which introduces an “API Overhead Feature Test.” Every game makes thousands of “draw calls” per frame of animation. According to Brad, a number of effects will become easier with both Mantle and DX12, such as temporal aliasing, object space rendering, and support for tons of light sources which will result into games looking more profound and subtle. But before you get too excited, remember that the mere presence of DX12 in Windows 10 is essentially useless until graphics drivers and other software are released to take advantage of Microsoft’s new gaming API.

Another major update in the software will be the latest DirectX 12 Windows gaming API that will connect the software and hardware of PC’s with game and other Windows-based softwares. Project Spartan, the successor to Internet Explorer will make use of Cortana while browsing websites and might pop up reminding users that the menu might suit the user’s diet. What the API Overhead test will do is compare the performance of DirectX 12, DirectX 11, and even AMD’s Mantle, presumable by pushing an increasingly large amount of draw calls to your CPU. It remains to be seen if those changes, and subsequent update can deliver at that level – and Microsoft is likely looking to boost, as they head into 2015 with a better product at multiple levels, and most importantly a more powerful operating system.

Microsoft’s DirectX is a collection of application programming interfaces (APIs) that handle tasks related to multimedia, especially gaming and video. Microsoft says DirectX 12 will sport a vastly better threading model than the five-year-old DirectX 11, giving developers more console-like “closer to the metal” access to graphics processors.

In 2012, in fact, AMD took a swipe at Nvidia in a blog post titled, ”Yes, AMD has FULL DirectX11 11.1 support.” AMD got into the nuances of the various levels of feature support in the API, and claimed nVidia didn’t support all the features it was supporting. The update to DirectX 12 though is not only very focused on improving performance, but also improving focus on mobile platforms – as that is a key indicator moving forward.

DirectX was a shorthand term that stood for all the collections of Direct APIs, such as Direct3D, DirectMusic, DirectSound, and others, with the X standing for the collection of APIs. When Microsoft developed a gaming console, the X was used as the basis for the name, which we know today as Xbox, which is based on DirectX technology. Microsoft also said that power consumption should not change drastically either, which means the company really did work on making sure performance was the top priority.

Many have said that this will work out well for Microsoft’s Xbox One console, which struggled when the console first launched, but ultimately is gaining some of the market share back that it lost when Sony released its PlayStation 4. This was intimated in an interview nVidia’s Tony Tamasi had with the TechReport.com last March: ”DirectX 12 will indeed make lower-level abstraction available (but not mandatory—there will be backward-compatibility with DX11) on existing hardware. Microsoft reiterated that the changes that would be coming wouldn’t require a drastic amount of work or modification from individuals who currently run some variation of DirectX. With the release of the new software, Microsoft is expected to fix the shortcomings, it faced in Windows 8.1 like the lack of support for third-party apps. That means assuming you own 3DMark and have access to ongoing Windows 10 Technical Preview builds, you’ll get to see DX11 versus DX12 in action for yourself.

Microsoft has already said it plans to talk more about DirectX 12 at the Game Developers Conference in early March—the same event that Valve plans to reveal more about its Steam Machines!—so I’d expect to see DirectX 12 drivers from Intel, AMD, and Nvidia by then at the very, very latest, especially considering that Microsoft already sneaked DirectX 12 itself into Windows 10. In his words, Microsoft “only teased” at some of those additions this week, and a “whole bunch more” are coming.” That same report, however, came to the same conclusion that’s being echoed by the two major graphics vendors: that today’s hardware will give gamers the parts that really matter in terms of performance and multi-thread support. Microsoft has improved the design and build of the AR glasses capable of projecting holograms and competing with Virtual reality headsets like Project Morpheus from Sony and Oculus Rift.

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