Since Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) revealed the Mantle API, a low level access coding language for AMD graphics cards, developers around the world began to wonder about when and in what way Microsoft would update the aging DirectX 11 suite of development tools.
Microsoft officially announced the latest iteration of DirectX at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) on the 20th of March 2014.
DirectX 12’s new API’s will enable developers much more freedom and vastly improved features over DirectX 11. Developed in part alongside nVidia for over four years, DirectX 12 features an API that is similar to AMD’s Mantle in that it provides a lower level of hardware abstraction than ever before, allowing games to significantly improve multithread scaling and CPU utilisation.
DirectX 12 also introduces the next version of Direct3D, the backbone interface of most video game engines, which enables richer scenes, more objects and full utilisation of modern GPU hardware.
Unlike previous iterations of DirectX, 12 focuses on efficiency over brute force. As such, games and software that take advantage of DirectX 12 will benefit from reduced GPU overhead, thanks to features such as descriptor tables and concise pipeline state objects. The new suite of development tools also features new rendering pipelines that will dramatically improve the efficiency of algorithms such as order-independent transparency, collision detection and geometry culling.
The most interesting and unexpected aspect of DirectX 12 is how the new API’s increased benchmark performance in current games that had been modified for DirectX 12. The performance boost was seen in most top-tier games and is most likely due to DirectX 12’s ability to reduce CPU overheads through better distribution of code among multi-thread capable GPUs.
In the past, adoption rates of new version of DirectX had been muted by lack of support from Microsoft’s key Operating Systems and consoles. With the new version of DirectX, however, Microsoft has promised that it will be available on all devices spanning Microsoft’s full product line, including Windows Phones, tablets, desktop and notebook computers, as well as the Xbox One.
DirectX 12 is slated to roll out by the end of 2015.