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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.

Frankenstein builds being pretty common in the DIY PC community...

Totally.

And how many GPUs will explicit M-GPU support concurrently?

Well, the most I think you can get in today is four. And we’ll support that. It shouldn’t matter.

And obviously you don’t need a bridge with PCI Express 3.0.

Exactly.

What’s the expected lifespan of DirectX 12? Windows 10 is supposedly the “last Windows,” but I can’t imagine DirectX 12 lasting forever.

Historically with DirectX we’ve taken something like DirectX 11 and brought out DirectX 11.1 and 11.2 and 11.3, and it goes on for a long time. I mean [DX]11 was out forever before [DX]12 came out. [Editor’s note: Microsoft launched DirectX 11 in Oct. 2009.] We expect DX12 to have the same life. We’ll add new APIs, new capabilities, more hardware, whatever Nvidia or AMD come out with. That’s the plan—to act more like a service, rather than jump into 13, jump into 14.

Consumers get really confused—does my card work, does it not work? So we’re trying to make that a little easier.

Do you see DirexctX 12.1, 12.2, 12.3 as incremental improvements or generational leaps?

It all depends. If someone comes out with a graphics card with a special set of hardware that could help boost DX12 graphics performance by 30 percent, we could say, “Wow! This is like DX15!” I guess it depends on where they go and where we go. We will add more instructions and let game developers take advantage of the hardware a lot more. DX12 is a pretty big beat. I can’t tell the future, but it would be surprising if something like a DX13 would hit, and we’d treat it like a 12.1.

I like the approach we have that DX12 will grow with new features. Even if there are big catalyst moments in there, I think that’s a good thing. 

Any thoughts on (DirectX competitor) Vulkan

I know little about it, although I know that Ashes [of the Singularity] is looking at it. They’re trying to figure it out themselves.

You know we work very closely with AMD and the other guys on specific instructions they want. And I hope we don’t live in a world where you if have this graphics card, you get these features, or you get this one when you get that one—Windows is a world where you buy Windows, you buy a graphics card, here’s the benefits for everybody. 

We want [hardware vendors] to be more successful, and not have to invest [in Vulkan], but at the same time, we totally understand. They have to differentiate themselves. 

So far you’ve talked about gaming on two platforms: the PC and the Xbox. But you do have a mobile platform—that, let’s face it, is struggling. But Continuum, where you can take a mobile app and run it on a desktop monitor, is one of its most interesting features.  Do you see a future for gaming on Windows phones or mobile devices?

 

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