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Microsoft today introduced DirectX 12 at the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. DX12 is Microsoft’s latest version of the graphics API that is the dominant standard in the growing, $25 billion PC gaming industry.

Developers have been asking for a thinner, more efficient API that allows them to control hardware resources more directly. Despite significant efficiency improvements delivered by continuous advancement of existing API implementations, next-generation applications want to extract all possible performance from multi-core systems. Developers also want to take direct advantage of advanced GPU hardware features, from which developers are currently insulated to provide fool-proof usage. DirectX 12 was designed from scratch to provide the infrastructure for these advanced applications.

Xbox One racing game Forza running on a PC powered by an NVIDIA GeForce Titan BlackSpeaking to a crowd of about 300 developers and press, Anuj Gosalia, development manager of DirectX at Microsoft, described DX12 as the joint effort of hardware vendors, game developers and his team. Our work with Microsoft on DirectX 12 began more than four years ago with discussions about reducing resource overhead. For the past year, NVIDIA has been working closely with the DirectX team to deliver a working design and implementation of DX12 at GDC.

Gosalia demonstrated the new API with a tech demo of the Xbox One racing game Forza running on a PC powered by an NVIDIA GeForce Titan Black. In addition, our software team has provided a driver to game studios to facilitate further design feedback as well as actual game development.

A critical factor in the adoption of any new API is the size of the available market. In the past, feature adoption has been muted by lack of support in the substantial console market, as well as absence of feature deployment on popular versions of the Windows OS. With DX12, there is an unprecedented convergence of APIs and breadth of support. DX12 will span PCs, XBox One, tablets and even phones.

In addition, NVIDIA will match Microsoft OS support for DX12. Over 70% of gaming PCs are now DX11 based. NVIDIA will support the DX12 API on all the DX11-class GPUs it has shipped; these belong to the Fermi, Kepler and Maxwell architectural families. With more than 50% market share (65% for discrete graphics) among DX11-based gaming systems, NVIDIA alone will provide game developers the majority of the potential installed base. chart

The genesis of DX12 can be found in technology trends. GPUs have continued to rapidly increase in performance, while single-core CPU performance has been gated by power limits. Multi-core CPUs have provided some advancement but still trail GPUs in peak performance. In parallel, applications have embraced task-parallelism, adopting sophisticated scheduling systems to scale performance with the number of CPU cores. This has in turn driven the need for an API that scales similarly with core count. GPU performance can be exploited three ways: drawing better pixels, more pixels and more objects. We have reaped much of what can be gained from pixels. DX12’s focus is on enabling a dramatic increase in visual richness through a significant decrease in API-related CPU overhead. Historically, drivers and OS software have managed memory, state, and synchronization on behalf of developers. However, inefficiencies result from the imperfect understanding of an application’s needs. DX12 gives the application the ability to directly manage resources and state, and perform necessary synchronization. As a result, developers of advanced applications can efficiently control the GPU, taking advantage of their intimate knowledge of the game’s behavior.

Today’s debut focused on the form of the graphics API, the model. Future Direct3D releases will include new rendering features, in addition to the new driver/application model outlined today. The work presented at GDC is just part of the story for upcoming releases. NVIDIA and Microsoft will continue to invest heavily in the future of gaming on the PC. – Yury Uralsky contributed to this post. 

  • Beep Boop

    “Consoles did also help PC gaming a big bunch, and made it possible for PC games to live.”

    Lol are you serious? Were you a PC gamer before 2007? There were A-Grade high budget PC-first games always raising the bar for graphics and gameplay (Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Call of Duty 1 and 2, Painkiller, Black and White Series, Populous, Crysis 1, Doom 3, Age of Empires 1,2,3, Empire Earth) What do we have post 2007? Console ports. I understand this as an economic reality and still consider PC gaming to be a great and fun platform, but consoles are almost directly to blame for the extinction of flagship AAA pc games that aren’t MMOs or developed primarily for consoles.

  • Ty NES

    Will win 7 be supported?

  • Lieutenant Dan Taylor

    At least AMD gpus since HD 2000 series had very primitive Tesselators (but with very limited amplification compared with today’s gpu tesselators) that weren’t used as far as I know;

  • Erwin Munkle

    I think Mantle can be run by a larger fragment of the market than DX12 will be able to.

  • nashathedog

    I’m shocked if you can’t see how stupid that comment is..

  • khizar_07

    I just wonder, how cool will DirectX games look running on a Real Mode processor!

  • BDK

    DX10 was a major super overhaul according to hardware manufacturers, it wasn’t.
    DX11 was a major super overhaul according to hardware manufacturers, it wasn’t.
    DX12 is going to be a major overhaul according to hardware manufacturers, it isn’t.

    Mantle is where it’s at. You know it and I know it.

  • Cryio

    DX10 can be faster than DX9 if developers know how to code properly.

    Most developers ignore DX10′s most important addition to the API: Geometry Shaders.

  • Cinnamon267

    Lesser hardware? Read the article. Titan Black, dude.

  • pontifexa

    DX10s most important addition by far was constant buffers.

    GSs aren’t used much because there are horrible performance penalties if you emit primitive expansion counts beyond hidden, magic, device/vendor specific numbers.

  • Cryio

    Especially with Maldo’s texture mod, which really shows what an optimized version of Crysis can do. (it wipes the floor with Crysis 1 and 3 in my opinion)

  • John Kiser

    Lesser hardware? Titan Black edition is ridiculously high end…

  • Stian Aarskaug

    Consoles are where they get the big money from. You need money in this world to get somewhere. Consoles are also about optimalisation (that’s a good thing). I know all about the port story, but that’s just where we are now, hopefully the new generations will make this much better. Consoles are a two headed creature where one of them is bad and the other good.

    Don’t tell me you think this subject has only one side, one conclusion. Ideally I would want a fully functioning PC market on its own, but we can’t have that. You should know this, PCs don’t sell very good anymore.

  • Qwertywitter

    But DX 11 was a major overhaul….

  • bsrocky

    according to quantum mechanics Lol the sarcasm kills me

  • TeemoNoob

    You have to deal with Metro for 2 seconds when you first turn your computer on, other than that it’s not really any different than windows 7, except MUCH MUCH faster, even games see 5% or better performance boost in Windows 8 and my HDD even got a 15% boost from switching. If you REALLY want to live with Windows 7 you can pay $5 for Start8 which can be set up to act just like windows 7 with the start button and everything and the only way to even get to metro is a hotkey combination. I know you’re going to probably bitch about spending $5 but that just shows how ignorant you are…

  • hahmed330

    Awesome!!

  • Nick Smith

    actually it’s not, the GTX 690 is still the fastest. as seen on Nvidia’s own titian black performance graph at http://www.geforce.com/hardware/desktop-gpus/geforce-gtx-titan-black/performance

  • http://thebradtarpley.com/ Brad Tarpley
  • Bradley Parsons

    Only more dx9 games as most of the games are on steam and are done by small-time developers. It is much easier to program and develop in dx9 than it is dx11.

    Biggest thing that came in in dx11 is tessellation.

  • Bradley Parsons

    1950s

  • Bradley Parsons

    So skip the UI like most people did. :P

  • Bradley Parsons

    Look at the OUYA console based on android design.

  • Blastergamer

    you don’t even have to be in metro UI. You can put your folders, software and games shortcut on the desktop screen. The Metro UI for me, is really good place to store your programs and apps in there, also the taskbar, which makes the desktop screen clean!

  • Blastergamer

    and yet you play a lot of DirectX games…

  • https://google.com/+RenaudLepage Renaud Lepage

    I seriously doubt that, with not having any Xbox, X360 or X1 and running Linux exclusively.

  • StrongForce

    I just can’t wait for the GTX 880 etc to come out :) .

  • todemanjack

    The gaming PC market is growing. So Microsoft might see the value of offering their games on both. Consoles are for people who want it all done for them. So they don’t have to keep a PC in good running order.

  • Thant Shin Naing

    I’ve some problem with World of Warcraft after installing dota2,Now i can’t play the WOW,
    when i loggon my account critical error apper, anyone know what is it?

  • Chris915

    Let me guess, it won’t be supported on Windows 7… right?

  • Chris915

    I doubt it. Considering DirectX 11.1 and DirectX 11.2 were on Windows 8.