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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  • james.jwb - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    Every single paragraph is completely misinformed, how embarrassing.
  • Alexey291 - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    Yeah ofc it is ofc it is.
  • inighthawki - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    >> There's no benefit for me who only uses a Windows desktop as a gaming machine.

    Wrong. Game engines that utilize DX12 or Mantle, and actually optimized for it, can increase the number of draw calls that usually cripples current generation graphics APIs. This leads to a large number of increased objects in game. This is the exact purpose of the starswarm demo in the article. If you cannot see the advantage of this, then you are too ignorant about the technology you're talking about, and I suggest you go learn a thing or two before pretending to be an expert in the field. Because yes, even high end gaming rigs can benefit from DX12.

    You also very clearly missed the pages of the article discussing the increased consistency of performance. DX12 will have better frame to frame deltas making the framerate more consistent and predictable. Let's not even start with discussions on microstutter and the like.

    >> Dx12 is not interesting either because my current build is actually limited by vsync. Nothing else but 60fps vsync (fake fps are for kids). And it's only a mid range build.

    If you have a mid range build and limited by vsync, you are clearly not playing quite a few games out there that would bring your rig to its knees. 'Fake fps' is not a term, but I assume you are referring to unbounded framerate by not synchronizing with vsync. Vsync has its own disadvantages. Increase input lag and framerate halving by missing the vsync period. Now if only directx supported proper triple buffering to allow reduces input latency with vsync on. It's also funny how you insult others as 'kids' as if you are playing in a superior mode, yet you are still on a 60Hz display...

    >> So why should I bother if all I do in Windows at home is launch steam (or a game from an icon on the desktop) aaaand that's it?

    Because any rational person would want better, more consistent performance in games capable of rendering more content, especially when they don't even have a high end rig. The fact that you don't realize how absurdly stupid your comment is makes the whole situation hilarious. Have fun with your high overhead games on your mid range rig.
  • ymcpa - Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - link

    Question is what do you lose from installing it? There might not be much gain initially as developers learn to take full advantage and they will be making software optimized for windows 7. However, as more people switch, you will start seeing games optimized for dx12. If you wait for that point, you will be paying for the upgrade. If you do it now you get it for free and I don't see how you will lose anything, other than a day to install the OS and possibly reinstall apps.
  • Morawka - Friday, February 6, 2015 - link

    Historically new DX release's have seen a 2-3 year adoption lag by game developers. Now, some AAA Game companies always throw in a couple of the new features at launch, the core of these engines will use DX 11 for the next few years.

    However with DX 12, The benifits are probably going to be to huge to ignore. Previous DX releases were new effects and rendering technologies. with DX 12, it effectively is cutting the minimum system requirements by 20-30% on the CPU side and probably 5%-10% on the GPU side.

    So DX12 adoption should be much faster IMHO. But it's no biggie if it's not.
  • Friendly0Fire - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    DX12 also has another positive: backwards compatibility. Most new DX API versions introduce new features which will only work on either the very latest generation, or on the future generation of GPUs. DX12 will work on cards released in 2010!

    That alone means devs will be an awful lot less reluctant to use it, since a significant proportion of their userbase can already use it.
  • dragonsqrrl - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    "DX12 will work on cards released in 2010"

    Well, at least if you have an Nvidia card.
  • Pottuvoi - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    DX11 supported 'DX9 SM3' cards as well.
    DX12 will be similar, it will have layer which works on old cards, but the truly new features will not be available as hardware just is not there.
  • dragonsqrrl - Sunday, February 8, 2015 - link

    Yes but you still need the drivers to enable that API level support. Every DX12 article I've read, including this one, has specifically stated that AMD will not provide DX12 driver support for GPU's prior to GCN 1.0 (HD7000 series).
  • Murloc - Saturday, February 7, 2015 - link

    I don't think so given that they're giving out free upgrades and the money-spending gamers who benefit from this the most will mostly upgrade, or if they're not interested in computers besides gaming, will be upgraded when they change their computer.

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