The next-generation DirectX API from Microsoft is focused on efficiency rather than new hardware features, but runs across platforms, including smartphones.
Microsoft's Anuj Gosalia, development manager of DirectX, announced its DirectX 12 next-generation graphics applications programming interface (API) at the Game Developer Conference on Thursday.
Microsoft presented to an overflowing crowd of game developers and had representatives of AMD, Intel, Nvidia, and Qualcomm on stage voicing support for the hotly anticipated API.
Some of those developers must have gone away disappointed as the new Microsoft graphics standard focused mostly on improving code efficiency running on existing GPU designs and the company did not reveal any significant visual quality innovation. That said, the improvements in API efficiency will allow Microsoft to offer its latest graphics capability on PCs, tablets, Xbox One, and even Windows Phone.
While many existing GPUs should be able to support DirectX 12, Microsoft expects that DirectX 12 content will not be available until the holiday season of 2015. Microsoft is taking submissions for the DirectX 12 early access program from developers; a preview release will be available later this year.
Specifically, Microsoft announced changes to the Direct3D graphics part of the Direct X API bundle. The company also plans additional technology previews at a later date. The primary goal of DirectX 12 is to increase the use of the CPU and GPU resources in the system. The new API will be better at offloading certain tasks to the GPU where the parallelism will increase performance and reducing CPU overhead.
Each silicon vendor went on stage to support the new API. AMD's support was a given, considering that it built the GPUs in the Xbox One, one of Microsoft's key gaming platforms. Nvidia announced it would support DirectX 12 in all its DirectX 11 GPUs, including Fermi, Kepler, and Maxwell GPUs. Intel said it will support DirectX 12 in its Haswell processors with Iris Graphics that it is shipping.
For all these GPUs, we will have to wait to see how completely each will support the DirectX API as Microsoft releases more details and any additional rendering technology. It's also possible for a graphics unit to support the runtime of the DirectX 12 API, but with an older feature level (e.g., DX12_FL9.3 would be DirectX 9 level hardware features running under the DirectX 12 runtime).
Next page: Qualcomm rides DirectX 12