The DirectX 12 Performance Preview: AMD, NVIDIA, & Star Swarmby Ryan Smith on February 6, 2015 2:00 PM EST
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.