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DirectX 12 will allow for high frame rates in Windows games while also cutting power use

directX 12

Microsoft's DirectX 12 API for 3D graphics in games and other applications was first announced in March, but since then the company has been pretty quiet about its status. That changed this week as Microsoft and Intel teamed up to show that games that will use DirectX 12 will maintain high frame rates while also cutting the power consumption of a PC's CPU.

As part of the annual SIGGRAPH 2014 computer graphic conference, Microsoft and Intel showed a DirectX 12 demo running on a Surface Pro 3 tablet with a Intel HD4400 graphics chip. The demo itself was of an fictional asteroid field with 50,000 unique space rocks. The demo could be switched from using the current DirectX 11 to DirectX 12. Using DirectX 12 allowed the asteroid demo to keep the same framerate as it did under DirectX 11, but it cut the Surface Pro 3's CPU power consumption by 50 percent.

The demo could also be changed to show that framerates under DirectX 12 could be increased by over 50 percent compared to using DirectX 11 without the CPU using any extra power. Microsoft says:

"The power savings are coming directly from the efficiency improvements that inherently come with using the DirectX 12 API. Lower level access to the hardware than ever before allows applications to significantly improve their CPU utilization, enabling them to draw extremely complex scenes at a significantly reduced energy cost. Like the Surface Pro 3, all devices which support DirectX 12 can benefit from DirectX 12 reduced power consumption, either in the form of longer battery life, increased performance, or some combination of the two."

Intel plans to release the asteroids demo when DirectX 12 is officially made available to the public. That won't likely happen until the company launches Threshold, the next version of Windows that is expected to officially be released sometime in the spring of 2015. What do you think of this latest DirectX 12 demo?

Source: Microsoft, Intel

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Reader comments

DirectX 12 will allow for high frame rates in Windows games while also cutting power use

58 Comments

Microsoft needs to improve their marketing. Apple has done the same thing and branded it "Metal". Now everybody knows about metal, which brings a brilliant gaming experience to mobile. Microsoft needs to talk about their products like Apple does and make it seem as though they just created something insanely new. Rocks as a demo is okay, but I know they can do more.

Quit with the old style of comparetive advertising and blow our hair back with DirectX 12, the new graphics system that brings your games to life on Windows.

What I really want, is universal gaming wether on PC, Xbox One, or Windows Phone where scores/saves, and purchases work despite the Windows platform I am using. Microsoft should be pushing this for games like Peggle 2 that don't take a lot of resources.  They should also support Xbox One Controllers for Phones as well as PC where you could use something like a GameClip to play those games with a controller on Windows Phones via WiDi.

Miracast not Miricast, but you are correct.  It's an open standard and hardware independent unlike every other competing "standard".

The sad thing is too many new games still use DirectX 9. DirectX 11 is awesome but so many games fall back to dx9. I'm looking forward to DX12 but I don't have high hopes oh setting this stuff in action for some time yet.

Every DX11 GPU from AMD and nVidia will support DX12. They'll probably need a platform update for Windows 8.1.x/9 and some newer GPU drivers.

That GPU will be 5 years old when DX12 releases.

How much support for outdated designs did you expect?

hate to be that guy, but i'm not buying the DirectX12 hype(even though i can use Mantle on my system, and boy does it work) until i see a demo that shows improved performance on desktop systems. hope for the best...

Yeah, but there are like 10 games that support Mantle, and some of them haven't even come out yet. I would rather be going with G-Sync and DX11/12.
 

You are already seeing the performance equivalent of DX12 but you're not buying into it? ... I don't understand you.

Cutting power consumption on the SP3 is very VERY important. A lot of my games get throttled (as in I turn down to low graphics and it still lags a lot) so hopefully this means just a little extra power so I don't have to be throttled. I'm very excited about this.

I mean, yeah, it has an Intel i5 and HD 4400. I should be able to handle Tomb Raider on the lowest resolution at at least 30 fps. It's not like I'm trying to play Crysis 3 at 4K 60fps :p

:D
I don't know. I just can't imagine playing games on a surface.
It screams office or photoshop. Also I would be concerned about the battery when I give it such demanding tasks. Don't they tend to break when they have to handle such tasks? :/
At least (after 1,5 years) it feels like my 920s battery has way less capacity than it had when I bought it.
But that could also be due to the developer preview.

Yeah, it does look more like it belongs in a boardroom, but that doesn't stop me. I have a gaming PC that I use for heavy gaming, but when I'm on the go, I just plug in my Xbox One controller and play.

I don't think the battery will be a problem. I remember in the Surface AMA, they said it would need like 4 years of pushing the battery to the max every day for like 8 hours a day to wear the battery down to 50%.

It depends if Intel is willing to make their DX11 iGPUs DX12 compatible. Those include Ivy Bridge, Haswell and Broadwell.

You only need a better graphic card. Games now developed have an option to choose from dx11 or dx9. If you have a really good graphic card feel free to play games with dx11 tessellation.

This will be most useful in Xbox to get higher graphical performance without stressing the system, coupled with cloud power it will be awesome.

This won't be as beneficial for the Xbox since they already have low level access to the hardware. I'm sure there will be improvements, but not to the degree the PC will see.

Darkness690, Interesting, but do you think there might me a DX mode on the xbox that can run games made for DX on PC? I mean I'm not suggesting there is, but my train of thought thinks that to enable seamless games between PC and XB1 that there should be some DX support on the XB1? In which case hopefully DX12 will improve that? Again purely theoretical I have no idea of actual implementation.

While DX12 will definitely improve PC gaming I find these examples often misleading as to how much performance gains we will see on average.

This specific demo is sort of a best case scenario for DX12 performance gains in two ways. 1) The demo itself is highly CPU bound requiring many draw calls to the GPU, 2) the device they use, a Surface Pro 3 using Intel's integrated graphics, is TDP bound where often the limits of performance are more about the temperature/cooling of the system vs the actual processing power of the chips themselves.

In most DX12 "performance gain" examples you will often find similar limitations being shown. Not unsimiliar to Mantle, you simply won't see the same large performance gains with average gaming system, because the CPU isn't the deciding factor for most set ups and games; it's the GPU that's bound.

Freeing up the CPU is great and all, but if the GPU was being readily fed already and thermal constraints from extra CPU processing wasn't restricting GPU performance (i.e., pretty much any discrete GPU setup) you won't really benefit from the two major reasons for increased performance in these demos. Instead you'll see the more modest performance increases that come from the changes in DX12 like better/more efficient mapping to modern GPUs.

And yes, you still will have the reduced CPU load even in these situations, they will just matter less/have less impact on the end performance to the average game the people play.

That said, in the cases that fit with these demos, i.e., heavily CPU bound games and systems where CPU usages heavily affects GPU performance, either through thermals or lots of draw calls, there is a very real boost in performance.

For example, games where you have a lot of objects like this 50,000 asteroid demo get a genuinely impressive boost. While other games might not benefit, games like this could go from unplayable to smooth simply from the lower CPU overhead with DX12. Furthermore, with the advent of DX12, adding elements like 50,000 asteroids which might have been prohibitive in a game before suddenly become the norm, allowing developers to add aspects to their games that just weren't realistically before DX12.

It also means that lower end machines, especially like these thermal bound SoCs designs can perform far better than before where they were impaired due to thermal design constraints. This should even have implications of ARM systems that use DX12 like Windows Phone 9, where we can not only see better battery life, but much better gaming performance on the same hardware.

I guess this is all just a long winded way of saying, DX12 will have genuine dramatic improvements in some cases, but don't expect all games and system to get this same level of performance. Again, these are basically best case scenarios.

Well reasoned and articulated.  This sort of demo is so typical.  Any 3D graphics programmer who looks at that image will immediately know how bogus the claim is.  It strongly suggests that DX12 will offer minor improvements at best.  If they want to prove DX12 can really make a big difference, they should get a DX12 path implemented for a real game and let the hardware sites benchmark the hell out of it.  If that isn't viable because DX12's true value is in enabling new scenarios, then come up with a better comparison of "50,000 space rocks drawn the stupid way with earlier DX" vs. "50,000 space rocks drawn the stupid way with DX12".  One of Limit Theory's recent dev updates on YouTube talked about using impostors to draw large quantities of asteroids efficiently.   Elite: Dangerous does a fine job using DX10 featureset.  How much benefit does DX12 bring to the table when one's higher level rendering strategy is efficient?

While you make a good point, the fact that *a lot* o people play games on their phones and tablets (far more people play games on mobile devices than any other kind of device) which are all very thermal and power limited is probably why they used a, wait for it, actual tablet for the demo. And on that tablet, DX12, still very far from finished (it's not even at the CTP stage), already shows shows significant improvements is performance *and* power usage improvements.

I'm guessing that was the point of the demo.

 

Similar battery claims are also made with the 14nm Broadwell also due next spring (in volumn). Sounds like MS and Intel are saying WAIT until next year to buy a PC.  All due next spring:

  • Threshold - Better Windows
  • Broadwell - Better Processor - faster uses less power
  • DirectX 12 - Better GPU Support for Games

Let's hope for a Surface 4 in the same timeframe.

 

In the meantime, League of Legends still uses a dx9 Engine that is slow as hell(uses only 2cores and it Cant saturate a geforce 620m)

DX11 cards can support DX12 with new drivers.

AMD will support all GCN based GPUs and Nvidia will support Fermi / Kepler / Maxwell.

Nice click bait, but the headline is completely misleading.

Improving frametimes up to 50% in very "specific scenarios and hardware configurations" (read: scenes with an artificially huge amount of draw calls on CPU starved configurations) has nothing to do with improving framerates all across the board.

Reducing API overhead will reduce CPU usage but people with decent CPUs won't notice a thing because that's not a bottleneck for 99,9% of the games (read: every single game in existence except the fancy demos they create to pretend this will be a noticeable performance improvement).