We’ve been following DirectX 12 for about 2 years now, watching Microsoft’s next-generation low-level graphics API go from an internal development project to a public release. Though harder to use than earlier high-level APIs like DirectX 11, DirectX 12 gives developers more control than ever before, and for those who can tame it, they can unlock performance and develop rendering techniques simply not possible with earlier APIs. Coupled with the CPU bottlenecks of DirectX 11 coming into full view as single-threaded performance increases have slowed and CPUs have increased their core counts instead, and DirectX 12 could not have come at a better time.

Although DirectX 12 was finalized and launched alongside Windows 10 last summer, we’ve continued to keep an eye on the API as the first games are developed against it. As developers need the tools before they can release games, there’s an expected lag period between the launch of Windows 10 and when games using the API are ready for release, and we are finally nearing the end of that lag period. Consequently we’re now getting a better and clearer picture of what to expect with games utilizing DirectX 12 as those games approach their launch.

There are a few games vying for the title of the first major DirectX 12 game, but at this point I think it’s safe to say that the first high profile game to be released will be Ashes of the Singularity. This is due to the fact that the developer, Oxide, has specifically crafted an engine and a game meant to exploit the abilities of the API – large numbers of draw calls, asynchronous compute/shading, and explicit multi-GPU – putting it a step beyond adding DX12 rendering paths to games that were originally designed for DX11. As a result, both the GPU vendors and Microsoft itself have used Ashes and earlier builds of its Nitrous engine to demonstrate the capabilities of the API, and this is something we’ve looked at with both Ashes and the Star Swarm technical demo.

Much like a number of other games these days, Ashes of the Singularity for its part has been in a public beta via Steam early access, while its full, golden release on March 22nd is fast approaching. To that end Oxide and publisher Stardock are gearing up to release the second major beta of the game, and the last beta before the game goes gold. At the same time they’ve invited the press to take a look at the beta and its updated benchmark ahead of tomorrow’s early access release, so today we’ll be taking a second and more comprehensive look at the game.

The first time we poked at Ashes was to investigate an early alpha of the game’s explicit multi-GPU functionality. Though only in a limited form at the time, Oxide demonstrated that they had a basic implementation of DX12 multi-GPU up and running, allowing us to not only pair up similar video cards, but dissimilar cards from opposing vendors, making a combined GeForce + Radeon setup a reality. This early version of Ashes showed a lot of promise for DX12 multi-GPU, and after some additional development it is now finally being released to the public as part of this week’s beta.

Since that release Oxide has also been at work both cleaning up the code to prepare it for release, and implementing even more DX12 functionality. The latest beta adds greatly improved support another one of DX12’s powerhouse features: asynchronous shading/computing. By taking advantage of DX12’s lower-level access, games and applications can directly interface with the various execution queues on a GPU, scheduling work on each queue and having it executed independently. Async shading is another one of DX12’s optimization features, allowing for certain tasks to be completed in less time (lower throughput latency) and/or to better utilize all of a GPU’s massive arrays of shader ALUs.

Between its new functionality, updated graphical effects, and a significant amount of optimization work since the last beta, the latest beta for Ashes gives us quite a bit to take a look at today, so let’s get started.

More on Async Shading, the New Benchmark, & the Test


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  • itchypoot - Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - link

    Continuing the trend of nvidias very bad DX12 performance. Reply
  • Sttm - Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - link

    Wouldn't you need multiple data points to have a trend, and as this is really the only DX12 game, you do not have that do you?

    No what we have here is one game where one side has an advantage, and a fanboy for that side shouting how it means everything. As if we haven't seen that 1000 times before.
  • itchypoot - Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - link

    Nothing of the sort, but you resort to insult because you have no substance. Likely you fit that description and see everyone else as being the same.

    There are other DX12 metrics available, nvidia continues to do poorly in them. Make yourself aware of them and return with data rather than insults.

    Nvidia+DX12 = unfortunate state of affairs
  • willis936 - Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - link

    "Make yourself aware of them so I don't have to make my own arguments" Reply
  • flashbacck - Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - link

    Lol. This is pretty fantastic. Reply
  • close - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    Given that we only have (almost) one DX12 game available I wouldn't worry too much about the performance of any of the two players. By the time enough games are available to actually care about DX12 I assume both will be more than ready to deliver. Reply
  • HalloweenJack - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    so by the summer then - oh wait , tomb raider IS DX12 , on console - but Nv threw enough money at the dev to make it DX11 on the pc.... Reply
  • close - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    Complaining (or worrying) about DX12 performance at this point is pointless. The whole ecosystem is very much in beta stages starting with the only version of Windows that supports DX12, Windows 10. The OS, the drivers, the games, they are all in a phase where they are subject to pretty big changes. Even the hardware will start supporting different subsets of DX12 in the future. And the title sums it up pretty well: "a beta look".

    But some people just need a reason to complain, to lament, to try on some sarcasm, etc. Only time will tell which platform will be "the best" and for how long once all the development is done. But what I can tell you right now is that both players will be "good enough".

    P.S. Regardless of which side you're on, being a fanboy only works when you have the very top end product. So unless you have a FuryX or a 980Ti/Titan X pointing fingers at the performance of the competition is like driving a Fiesta and thinking it's a sort of Mustang.
  • silverblue - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    What about a Fiesta ST? (yes, I'm trolling, albeit mildly) Reply
  • MattKa - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    What a load of shit. Nvidia threw money at them to make it DX11?

    It's not DX12 on X-Box you uninformed baboon. In fact Crystal Dynamics is going to be patching DX12 support into the game.

    You joker.

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