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DirectX 12 Unveiled at GDC 2014

Category: Gaming
Posted: 11:46AM

Earlier today at a GDC 2014 session, Microsoft lifted the veil on the next iteration of DirectX, DirectX 12. While the presentation was sadly not streamed live, PC Perspective live-blogged the event, which is where all the images below come from.

DirectX 12 (DX12), or more specifically, Direct3D 12 (D3D12), "provides a lower level of hardware abstraction than ever before, allowing games to significantly improve multithreaded scaling and CPU utilization." As a result, not only will high-end gaming PCs benefit from DX12, but low-end machines too. In fact, all Microsoft devices will have DX12 support moving forward, including Xbox One and Windows-powered mobile devices.

The good news for PC gamers is that new hardware won't necessarily be required – both NVIDIA and AMD confirmed DX12 support for existing cards, with NVIDIA specifically listing Fermi, Kepler, Maxwell, and beyond. Of course one of the most burning questions was not answered – which version(s) of Windows will support DX12? Microsoft put up a slide that broke down the support as: "100% of new desktop GPUs", "80% of new gamer PCs", and "50% of all PC gamers when we ship". That latter percentage is a bit alarming and could indicate that Windows 7 will not be supported. That being said, at least it seems unlikely that Windows 9 will be a requirement.

If you want to read a lot of the technical mumbo jumbo, be sure to check the MSDN Blog post linked below, but one thing I will mention is that Microsoft is reporting "a 50% improvement in CPU utilization, and better distribution of work among threads," in a D3D12-ported version of 3DMark compared to the current D3D11 version. As many PC gamers and computer enthusiasts know, CPUs are currently severely underutilized, so DX12 could be a major boost to overall PC performance, not just GPU performance.

Another interesting facet of DX12 is the claim that it brings "console-level efficiency on PC" thanks to its lower-level access. To illustrate that, developer Turn 10 ported its "Xbox One Direct3D 11.X core rendering engine to use Direct3D 12 on PC," to show off a silky-smooth, 60FPS-stable PC tech demo of its newest racing game, Forza Motorsport 5. Does this mean that the long-time Xbox-exclusive franchise could make its way to PC as a DX12-exclusive? Let the rumors begin!

DX12 definitely seems like a huge change from the current DirectX 11.2, but it'll still be awhile before we see games utilizing it. DX12 has a targeted release of Holiday 2015 with a preview release planned for later this year.

Source: MSDN Blog and PC Perspective

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masterbinky on March 20, 2014 01:00PM
That's great news, so Xbox will only hold back multi platform PC gaming to Dx12 for the next 10 years. Actually I'm pretty excited it won't hold it back at Dx11.

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