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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  • dakishimesan - Friday, February 6, 2015 - link

    Because DirectX 10 and WDDM 2.0 are tied at the hip, and by extension tied to Windows 10, DirectX 12 will only be available under Windows 10. Reply
  • dakishimesan - Friday, February 6, 2015 - link

    PS: great article. Reply
  • FlushedBubblyJock - Sunday, February 15, 2015 - link

    First thoughts: R9 290X dx11=8 frames mantle=46 frames TEST= TOTAL FRAUD

    Although the difference there is what AMD told us mantle would do, only in this gigantic liefest is such hilarity achieved.

    Another big industry lie-test blubbered out to the sheep at large.
    Reply
  • 0ldman79 - Monday, February 16, 2015 - link

    It looks more like the people that coded that game are not very experienced and have spent far more time optimizing for future API than DX11. Reply
  • Christopher1 - Monday, February 16, 2015 - link

    Not necessarily. DX11 no matter how 'optimized' still does not get you as close 'to the metal' as Mantle does. So yes, there can be these kinds of extreme differences in FPS. Reply
  • The_Countess666 - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    they are in fact very experienced. but they choose to do the things that previously DX11 bottleneck prevented them from doing in the past. Reply
  • 0ldman79 - Saturday, February 21, 2015 - link

    That makes sense, still not quite an apples to apples comparison in that situation, though using previously unavailable features on the new API tends to show the differences.

    The question still remains, will we see similar improvements on the current crop of DX11 games?

    I don't think that will be the case, though I could be wrong.

    Seems the gains are from multithreading, which is part of the DX11 or 11.1 spec.
    Reply
  • RobATiOyP - Sunday, February 21, 2016 - link

    Of course you won't see such a performance increase, because games have to be designed and tuned to what the platform is capable of. The console API's have allowed games, lower level access, Mantle, DX12 & Vulkan are about removing a bottleneck caused by the assumptions in DX11 & OpenGL API's which were designed when GPUs were novel items and much evolution has occured since. Those doubting the benchmark, please say why a graphics application would not want to do more draw calls per second! Reply
  • Fishymachine - Monday, February 16, 2015 - link

    DX11 can manage up 10k draw calls, Star Storms makes 100k. Also Assasins Creed Unity makes up to 50k in case you wanted a retail game that would skyrocket in low API(there's a spot where even 2 GTX980 get 17fps) Reply
  • The_Countess666 - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    this engine was spefiically written to do all the things that previously DX11 doesn't allow game developers to do. it was designed to run headlong into every bottleneck that DX11 has.

    it is in fact a great demonstrations of the weaknesses of DX11.

    the fact that nvidia gets higher framerates in dx11 then ATI is because they optimized the hell out of this game. that isn't viable (costs too much, far too time consuming) for every game and was purely done by nvidia for marketing, but all it really does is further illustrate the need for a low level API where the burden of optimizations is shifted to the game engine developers where it belongs, not the driver developers.
    Reply

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