Introducing DirectX 12: Low-Level Control Means High Performance Boost

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directxOn Thursday at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco (GDC), representatives from Microsoft and GPU manufacturer Nvidia announced the next version of Microsoft’s DirectX graphics API, DirectX 12. DirectX has been included with all Windows operating systems and the Xbox game console since Windows 95, making it one of the most common APIs used by game developers around the world. DirectX 12 is being poised to make waves in the gaming community with improved performance and increased control over CPU and GPU processes.

Designed to eliminate much of the slowdown between the CPU, GPU and game engine, DirectX 12 will give developers lower-level access to multi-core processes, meaning that those who know the engine’s ins and outs best will be able to optimize the system running their game. Microsoft claims that the API will better allow applications to access multiple GPUs, including hybrid chipset CPU/GPUs like Intel’s Haswell processors. It also will be optimized for increased power efficiency and be able to port applications easier between mobile, console and PC platforms, which is a boon for developers seeking a cross-platform experience for their games.

Nvidia, whose products hold a 50% market share in DirectX 11 devices, (65% in discrete graphics), say that many of their graphics processors that run DirectX 11 will also be able to run DirectX 12, including their newer Fermi, Kepler and Maxwell series of cards. A live demonstration of Forza Motorsport 5running on Direct3D 12 (DirectX’s 3D graphics API), and powered by a Nvidia GeForce Titan Black GPU ran smoothly at 60 FPS, and Microsoft claims that upgrading the sytem to DirectX 12’s 3DMark benchmarks offered a 50% improvement in processor performance, though this remains to be corroborated.

DirectX 12 does not have a definite release date, but Microsoft has hinted that games utilizing it will likely appear in late 2015. Developers will have access to the API much sooner, however, to better optimize for its release.

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