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Meet the future of PC graphics: Microsoft reveals faster, console-like DirectX 12

Hayden Dingman | March 21, 2014
Witness the future of gaming graphics: Leaner, meaner, and closer to the metal.

Turn 10 tried to port Forza 5 to DirectX 11, but found massive CPU overhead created a lot of stuttering. The DirectX 12 demo we saw, on the other hand, ran at a smooth framerate primarily because many of its new features—such as bundling resources—were drawn directly from Microsoft's Xbox One tools.

"We're excited to see console-style development coming to the PC," said Tector.

Hardware makers get hot and bothered
And he wasn't the only one excited. After Tector, a parade of industry figures came out to talk about their relation with Microsoft and DirectX 12.

AMD's Raja Koduri said DirectX 12 was like "getting four generations of hardware ahead," all at once. Intel's Vice President of Platform Engineering Eric Mentzer shared a similar sentiment, with, "This is absolutely, I think, the most significant jump in technology in a long, long time."

Nvidia's Senior Vice President of Content and Technology, Tony Tamashi, took some shots at AMD's similar Mantle initiative, saying they're excited about DirectX 12 because it supports existing goals "within the framework of existing graphics APIs," without the need to fragment the community.

Even Qualcomm got in on the game, touting the fact that DirectX 12 sees both improved power efficiency and performance on mobile hardware.

When can you get it?
Not for a while. Microsoft is targeting DirectX 12's release alongside holiday 2015 games, though they're planning a preview for later this year. Gosalia also hinted at an early access program, though he was cagey about details.

Continuing DirectX's legacy and purpose, most recent hardware will be supported—for instance, Intel's fourth generation Core processors and all Nvidia hardware from Fermi architecture onwards. Microsoft estimates that approximately 50 percent of existing PC game enthusiasts will have the necessary hardware to run DirectX 12 at launch, and of course the technology will be coming to the Xbox One.

However, Microsoft did not commit to Windows 7 support. In fact, with a launch date of 2015, there's a good chance Microsoft is targeting DirectX 12 for the rumored release of "Windows 9," whatever that ends up being.

Regardless, it seems like a huge step forward for games technology. I look forward to getting my hands on it sometime later this year.

 

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