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We asked Microsoft gaming czar Mike Ybarra about the future of DirectX and mobile gaming

Mark Hachman | March 2, 2016
Explicit multi-GPU gaming sounds even better than we thought.

As Microsoft brings its Xbox One game console closer to the PC, it needs a point person to orchestrate gaming experiences across both of those platforms. At Microsoft, that person is Mike Ybarra, director of program management for Xbox. PCWorld’s Mark Hachman sat down with him recently to discuss the future of DirectX 12, multi-GPU gaming, and whether coding for the Microsoft HoloLens was as easy as Microsoft implies it is. (Interview edited for length and clarity.)

We’re just starting to see games that take advantage of DirectX 12, including Ashes of the Singularity, which came out last year. When are we going to see mainstream adoption of DX12 in new games? 

Ybarra: We’ve got a list of third-party games coming, but it’s highly confidential. But there’s a lot coming. And we’re landing things like explicit multi-GPU. Basically, as a game developer, you previously had to do a deal with either AMD or Nvidia, or figure out if they could optimize their driver for your game, and then get whitelisted in their driver list.

We had to remove that complexity for developers, because a lot of people didn’t optimize for multiple GPUs. So the core gamer that went and bought a $2,700 PC was sitting there saying, hey, I’m only getting 20 percent more performance with two GPUs—what’s broken?

What this means is that the game developers have to basically say, I have to think about [multi-GPU] as I write my game, but now I don’t have these dependencies, and I don’t have to have Nvidia or AMD breaking any drivers... The complexity inherent with all that causes stability problems in Windows, in general.

So we’re going to patch all that up. And a lot of games are taking their time to make sure they land those points. But in the next six months you’ll see a lot.

We’ve tested explicit multi-GPU before, which allows GPUs from AMD, Intel, and Nvidia to work together in concert to improve graphics. But is there a list of compatible hardware? What’s supported? 

With explicit M-GPU, you can put an AMD or an Nvidia card together. Most PCs like those have integrated Intel GPUs, where historically if you put an external GPU in, that was it—that thing sat idle. We’ll take advantage of it, as well. Basically, any graphics card out there. 

But how old can those cards be?

Oh, I’ve seen the test lab use [Nvidia GeForce GTX] 680 cards. We’ve seen it take advantage of cards that are very old. So if you have a 680 card and buy a new 980 card, that 680 doesn’t need to go into the trash.

 

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