When GDC 2014 finally came to an end the most exciting news came from Microsoft, as they previously hinted it was the long awaited announcement of the next version of DirectX. As expected following the simple numeric order this one is named DirectX 12 and as we found out during the announcement this time around it’s mostly focusing on utilizing the potential low level graphics programming in Direct 3D. But naturally the announcement also leads to multiple questions and today we will be analyzing the most sensible answers for them, so without any delay let us get started!
What Does Low Level Programming Do?
Recently AMD caused every tech enthusiast to research more about Low Level Programming due to their new feature called Mantle. In all honestly Low Level programming was never properly utilized and those who attempted to do so lacked proper advertising this is where AMD came in and took everyone by surprise. Microsoft followed AMD on its path and with the release of DirectX12 we will see it utilized in a way that no one has ever seen before, it’s safe to say it was an unsolved puzzle that AMD started solving and Microsoft finished.
For PC gaming Low Level programming can do wonders and can allow it to reach a state where PC would truly become the ultimate platform. The most obvious use of Low Level API are the consoles, its due to these dedicated low level programming that consoles can run demanding games even with inferior hardware. Up until now PC didn’t mind as their high level API such as Direct3D and OpenGL were working just fine, producing better visuals than consoles ever could. But with such improvement in terms of visuals in such a short time PC started to face many performance issues where else in consoles developers would outright tone down the visuals in order to achieve better performance, which clearly was not an option for PC users.
Due to how rapidly GPU performance has grown compared to the CPU and that resulted in some problem, the massive amount of work these API’s had to do is restricted to one single thread by nature therefore creating a bottleneck and this will only get worse as we progress further. This is where Low Level programming comes in, it can deal with similar problems far more efficiently. Low Level API’s require no additional API’s, therefore working in a much better manner with multiple CPU cores which is quite common in today’s ever evolving world of CPU’s.
How Does DirectX 12 Differ Itself from Mantle and How Will It Be Used?
Now you might be wondering, “well Mantle is doing something similar” so how does DirectX12 stand out? The answer is that Microsoft will be able to bestow the technology of Low Level Programming to all platforms regardless of what GPU they are using where as Mantle is exclusive to AMD users only, but the initial goal of both companies are similar which is to achieve superior performance. Microsoft claimed that Direct3D 12 is going to greatly reduce the CPU overheard by allowing developers to use their own command lists which will result in better spread between multiple cores, additionally D3D 12 will also feature pipeline state objects which will bypass pipeline limitations to some extent by using content that is already finalized on creation, therefore increasing the number of draw calls the CPU can submit.
The final unique feature of the D3D 12 will be descriptor heaps which basically means access to resources similar to what Nvidia introduced with their Kepler architecture. So yes, D3D 12 will be different than Mantle in terms of availably and features but the goal of both will remain the same.
DirectX 12 Final Words
This is great for the PC industry in general as the potential for improved performance is quite clear, yes it does bring up question regarding Mantles future but that is something we can only assume until D3D 12 is officially released. Only one thing is for certain now, Low Level API’s have finally reached a position where they are being utilized in a manner never seen before and this might be the first true step into the next generation regardless of what console titles may suggest.