It was teased, and now it’s here: Microsoft has formally revealed Dirext 12 for PC, Xbox One, tablets, and more or less anything else it can fit on.
DirectX 12 is the latest revision of Microsoft’s patented Direct3D API, aimed at providing developers with the tools and driver libraries to get their games up and running on Microsoft based platforms. According to the DirectX team, DirectX 12 is a direct response to both gamers and developers who’ve expressed frustration with bottlenecks and limited usability that the Direct3D API has offered over low level hardware access as traditionally seen on consoles. And so, DirectX 12 aims to provide developers with deeper access to hardware when programming their games, significantly improving multithread scaling and CPU utilisation.
Two examples were used by Microsoft to demonstrate DirectX 12’s capabilities. The first was a 3D Mark benchmark on PC hardware, comparing the difference between CPU usage on DirectX 11 and DirectX 12. Crunching numbers, DirectX 12 saw a 50% improvement in CPU usage, optimisation, and thread distribution. The second demo was to show console level efficiency on PC, Microsoft showing Xbox One’s Forza 5 running in a quick alpha state at 1920×1080 @ 60fps on high end PC hardware.
While this is mostly all good news for gamers and developers, here comes the bad news: DirectX 12 will not be fully, publicly released until December 2015. Early access however is coming at the end of the year. In better news, while major DirectX revisions have almost always required upgraded hardware, both Microsoft and Nvidia have confirmed that most existing Fermi, Kepler, and Maxwell card architectures will support the upgrade from DirectX 11 to DirectX 12, meaning many gamers will be able to reap benefits with the hardware already in their PC.
The only remaining question is what iteration of Windows DirectX 12 will require. Will we be able to sit happy with Windows 7? Or will we be expected to upgrade to Windows 8? We’ll have the answer as soon as it’s available.