First Thoughts

Bringing our preview of DirectX 12 to a close, what we’re seeing today is both a promising sign of what has been accomplished so far and a reminder of what is left to do. As it stands much of DirectX 12’s story remains to be told – features, feature levels, developer support, and more will only finally be unveiled by Microsoft next month at GDC 2015. So today’s preview is much more of a beginning than an end when it comes to sizing up the future of DirectX.

But for the time being we’re finally at a point where we can say the pieces are coming together, and we can finally see parts of the bigger picture. Drivers, APIs, and applications are starting to arrive, giving us our first look at DirectX 12’s performance. And we have to say we like what we’ve seen so far.

With DirectX 12 Microsoft and its partners set out to create a cross-vendor but still low-level API, and while there was admittedly little doubt they could pull it off, there has always been the question of how well they could do it. What kind of improvements and performance could you truly wring out of a new API when it has to work across different products and can never entirely avoid abstraction? The answer as it turns out is that you can still enjoy all of the major benefits of a low-level API, not the least of which are the incredible improvements in CPU efficiency and multi-threading.

That said, any time we’re looking at an early preview it’s important to keep our expectations in check, and that is especially the case with DirectX 12. Star Swarm is a best case scenario and designed to be a best case scenario; it isn’t so much a measure of real world performance as it is technological potential.

But to that end, it’s clear that DirectX 12 has a lot of potential in the right hands and the right circumstances. It isn’t going to be easy to master, and I suspect it won’t be a quick transition, but I am very interested in seeing what developers can do with this API. With the reduced overhead, the better threading, and ultimately a vastly more efficient means of submitting draw calls, there’s a lot of potential waiting to be exploited.

Frame Time Consistency & Recordings
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  • eanazag - Monday, February 9, 2015 - link

    Yes, and they need more millions of machines to attract developers. Find any app that exists on iOS, Android, and Windows and you'll see that the Windows version is usually lagging in support or features. Example: Star Wars Commander receives the same updates iOS does weeks later.

    They absolutely need developers to get on board. When they do, there should be a corresponding stream of cash flow in the Windows store.
  • Blessedman - Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - link

    This is 100% correct... Ask any Machead if they would prefer Max Excel or Windows Excel, it is a clear choice that the windows version of Excel is far away a better product. When they can develop for an audience, do you think they would rather show off their product on the niche market (anything other than windows)?
  • Blessedman - Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - link

    Errr This isn't 100% correct.
  • SparkySamza - Tuesday, February 10, 2015 - link

    yes but numbers on mac vs mac excel, numbers wins every time cause numbers is a boss.
  • Christopher1 - Monday, February 16, 2015 - link

    True, but Windows 8 has the Store and it is a PAID upgrade from Vista and 7 so..... that comparison sorts falls flat in the real world.
  • ymcpa - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    It's free only for the first year and it's not free to OEMs and large enterprise customers, who use software assurance anyways. They want everyone to upgrade to create a large enough user base to attract developers again. This will benefit windows tablets and phones and might make them competitive against ios and android. The only thing really holding tablets and phones back is the app selection. On the other hand, Google's only reason for giving away free software and service s to establish a large user so that the can sell ads to target that user base. In that scenario, you are the product.
  • bitcrazed - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    "It's free only for the first year .."
    No. Win 10 is a free upgrade if you upgrade within a year of initial release. There is no fee to be paid after the 1st year.

    Because we now live in a world where one doesn't need to replace one's machine every 3 years in order to be able to run the next OS version, Microsoft has learned that it needs to incentivize users to upgrade to newer OS' in order to prevent what happened with XP:

    Although Microsoft had released Vista, 7 and 8, until fairly recently, a considerable percentage of their userbase were still running XP. Microsoft had to extend the support lifespan of XP twice to avoid leaving XP users without an upgrade path, but still they refused to upgrade. Then Microsoft could do no more and even extended support expired resulting in a larger number of upgrades from XP.

    My offering Win10 as a free upgrade, Microsoft (and the entire industry) hopes to encourage users to upgrade from their current OS - XP, Vista, 7 or 8.x to the new OS sooner rather than later.
  • hwangeruk - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    Eh? His "free for the first year" comment was correct, stop splitting hairs.
    Microsoft is not trying to prevent what happened with XP at all, that's just wrong.
    MS need apps for mobile, so wants a mass of users to get the tablet and phone space back.
    They also want to win some hearts and minds as Windows 8 had a mixed reception (even though after 8.1 updates it was fine, the damage was done. Like games with launch issues sometimes don't recover from negative early reviews)
    This has 0 to do with XP, and the XP extended support for only for paying customers not generally consumers. This move has 0 to do with XP, you are so wrong on that.
  • zodiacfml - Sunday, February 8, 2015 - link

    It is free. They put it for free for the first year of the OS so that people are forced to upgrade immediately and not any amount of time longer than that as it that defeats the purpose of putting a huge percentage of people into just one, current operating system.

    Besides, adopters would be will beta testers with little obligation from MS.
  • Wwhat - Sunday, February 8, 2015 - link

    But what does windows10 desktop to do with getting the tablet and phone space? And what do you mean with "get the tablet and phone space back", back? MS never had that market ever, nor is MS likely to get it.

    But yes, they are likely hoping to gain from 'an appstore' and 'cloud' and the always listening and handy for advertisers and security services alike voice-command thing.

    All of which exemplifies the reason to worry..

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