Microsoft and partners from Nvidia, AMD, Intel and Qualcomm have officially revealed
the next version of DirectX gaming API, DirectX 12, at this year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
Speaking 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.
According to Microsoft, DirectX 12 will offer a number of major improvements to developers across all Microsoft platforms: Windows, Xbox One and Windows mobile OSes. The new API also seeks to enhance graphics efficiency for modern games by allowing developers to more easily spread tasks across multi-core CPUs, all the while reducing CPU "bottlenecks" that can hinder performance from dedicated video hardware.
The newly announced DirectX 12 will also provide new tools for developers to access "lower-level" functionality of hardware, better known as "coding to the metal." This will eliminate some of the performance hits caused by the API's communication between a game engine and system hardware. Microsoft gave examples using 3DMark benchmarks, where estimates of as much as a 50 percent improvement in CPU performance were found, though of course real-world results will likely vary.
A relief to many, Nvidia revealed that a majority of video cards currently running DirectX 11 are already compatible with DirectX 12, including the company's Fermi, Kepler and Maxwell series of cards. A tech demo was demonstrated at GDC with Forza Motorsport 5 developer Turn 10 Studios showing off a version of the racing title utilising Nvidia's GeForce Titan Black, with the studio claiming that the new API allowed the game to run at a locked 60 frames per second.
Sadly no specific date was given for the DirectX 12 API, but an estimated "holiday 2015" window was offered for games to ship using the API. Developers will have it sooner, with an official SDK later this year and an early access program before that. Microsoft has not yet spoke on which version of Windows will support the new technology.