The next-generation DirectX API from Microsoft is focused on efficiency rather than new hardware features, but runs across platforms, including smartphones.
While Qualcomm’s representative expressed support for DirectX 12, the company was not able to commit at this time to specific Snapdragon processors that will support it. In an email exchange, a Qualcomm representative explained that Qualcomm and Microsoft are still planning the details of when and how Snapdragon and Windows Phone will best intersect with DX12. Qualcomm is the sole SoC processor vendor Microsoft qualified for Windows Phone.
DirectX 12 will be especially helpful in mobile as the increased driver efficiency will save processor power by reducing the power required for each draw call. The improved efficiency will also allow better graphics performance for phones and tablets. The unified runtime driver will make it easier for content creators to port games from PCs and the XBox One to phones and tablets.
AMD has also attempting to address the inefficiencies of existing graphics APIs by building its own API, called Mantle, which it announced in September of 2013. The day before the Microsoft announcement, AMD added a new game engine partner for Mantle -- Crytek.
The technical differences between DirectX and Mantle are not clear yet, but like Mantle, DirectX 12 will give developers more control over memory, state, and task synchronization. Mantle is available now and is already being used in published games, while DirectX 12 content is still 18 months away.
AMD's Mantle only runs on AMD Radeon GPUs in PCs, limiting its impact on the market. But Mantle may have pushed Microsoft to make the changes in DirectX 12 as there were obviously bottlenecks in DirectX 11.
Microsoft's DirectX 12 appears to be a serious attempt to fix some of the inefficiencies in the API by giving developers more control over the hardware and better use the parallelism of the GPU and many-core CPUs. With DirectX 12, Microsoft will be able to extract more performance out of the hardware already in the Xbox One, which is an important consideration in its competition with Sony's PlayStation 4.
The improved efficiency will also allow Microsoft to have one graphics API that address the full range of its ecosystem from consoles to smartphones, which will smooth developer porting between platforms. The only disappointments in the announcement were that no new hardware features were revealed at this time and we won't see the benefits of DirectX 12 until late next year.