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Microsoft unveils DirectX 12, promises to make mobile games better

DirectX 12

Earlier this month Microsoft teased DirectX 12. The company said they’d have info to share about the next version of DirectX at this week’s GDC gaming conference. The Microsoft press conference just took place this morning. The DirectX team announced and shared a ton of info about DirectX 12. Read on if you’re ready for gaming to get even more enjoyable on your console, PC and phone.

DirectX is a collection of various APIs that work to make multimedia content, like games, better. There are various components to those APIs like Direct3D for graphics. 

Direct3D is the graphics API that Microsoft has worked on for 20 years as part of DirectX. Microsoft considers Direct3D to be one of the more critical pieces of a game engine. Which is why they’ve redesigned it to be faster and more efficient. They also stress that high-end PCs won’t be the only place you see these improvements. Everything from phones to tablets to laptops and to consoles will benefit from the work Microsoft has done with Direct3D 12.

Direct3D 12 will provide a lower level of hardware abstraction. This will allow multithread scaling and CPU utilization. The result of improving Direct3D is a reduced GPU overhead. You’re probably wondering if you need a new graphics card to take advantage of Direct3D 12. The answer is probably not. Microsoft has worked with hardware makers to ensure that DirectX 12 will run on most cards already in use. Bonus. Direct3D also promises 50% better CPU use and will make console games look and perform better on PC. Microsoft showed off Forza 5 running on PC hardware earlier today to demonstrate. 

With DirectX 12, developers will have great and more direct control over visuals in games. Your Xbox One will benefit, as will your Windows Phone and Windows 8 tablet.

Microsoft shared a slide about the benefits of DirectX 12 on mobile that our friends at IGN nabbed. The three core areas we’ll see improvements for games in the mobile environment are:

  • Improved power efficiency
  • Improved performance for mobile
  • Scalability and portability

DirectX 12 Mobile Benefits

Kind of vague and PR’y, but if you zoom in on the image you can read the bulletin points for a better idea of what Microsoft means. For performance, the new DirectX 12 runtime will be efficient on multicore CPUs. The lower graphics API overhead will help maximize the performance on Snapdragon chipsets. You know the ones in every single Windows Phone.

In terms of scalability and portability. Look forward to a unified runtime that will help developers have an easier time porting PC and console content to mobile.

The DirectX 12 team will share more info and specifics about the changes at Microsoft’s Build conference in two weeks. We’ll be there to bring you all the news. In the meantime, if you’re a game developer you can request early access to the DirectX 12 preview program.

Source: MSDN Via: IGN

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Reader comments

Microsoft unveils DirectX 12, promises to make mobile games better

89 Comments

I see a gamepad next to the mobile phone in that slide! I hope this means that they'll FINALLY add xbox controller support to wp!

Yeah, I've had it up to HERE *gestures to collar* with moble games. (actually, I do appreciate what WP game devs have done, notably Survival craft, Spartan runner, but also Spartan asslt.!)

50 cents: I think people lose sight of the fact that Microsoft has had this covergence vision for a really long time.  Unfortunately, it's just not so easy to do short of strong arming the consumer and developer.  Sure, there are examples where it has been done: consider the OSx switch to intel. It just happened. Boom.  How long did it take for Microsoft to finally shift away from releasing a non-32bit version of Windows?  Imagine the drama that would cause.  That Microsoft was concerned at all about backwards compatibility at all is mind-boggling.  Most people don't care for the details of a long term plan that involves such a huge ecosystem so these things do take time. Granted, whether or not Microsoft has that time is another issue.  Microsoft, Apple, and Google all have very different plans for and views of their customers.  Think about that.

I thought about it a weekend ago or so. Unification just makes sense for the future. Why have a separate OS for mac and IOS devices? Chromebook and nexus? It just makes sense. Win 8 will be the first, but competition will follow, probably ripping off all the great features. x)

No, Xbox One already have low level APIs, Microsoft announcement is just smoke. We will have to resign ourselves with 720p @ 30FPS

" When we spoke to Microsoft's Anuj Gosalia after the announcement, though, he downplayed the importance of DX12 for Xbox One titles. The Xbox One and PS4 have difficulty running the latest games at 1080p resolution, and Gosalia suggested that DX12 won't necessarily change that or offer any particular new graphical effects. "This just lets you exploit a little bit more of what the hardware can do."
 

http://www.theverge.com/gaming/2014/3/20/5530420/microsoft-claims-directx-12-will-improve-xbox-one-games-wont-require

If you're sweating over the resolution in a game it probably isn't that fun to begin with. I haven't had as much fun in any game in recent memory as I have in Titanfall... guess what.. not 1080p. Still having a blast!

On paper, yes. Actually playing on a big screen, 8-10 feet away, I can't tell the difference. The important part is if the game is fun. I've played Titalfall beta, Tomb raider, Forza, Assasins Creed on the Xbox One and all those games looked great even if some of them weren't 1080p. I've also played plenty of games on the PC and have played around with different resolutions and couldn't really see the difference there either. A decent FPS is way more important to game play than the resolution. Once you reach a certain resolution, you have to look real close to see the differences. There is diminishing return as you keep increasing the resolution on a certain sized monitor. If you put in a larger monitor, it start to matter a little more up to a point. 

Now put 2 TV's side by side running each console and see if you can really spot the differences. There have been plenty of reviews by gaming blogs putting side by side images. The difference in image quality was minimal.

There is a start button, you just can't see it, the left side of the screen isn't projected, some slides are cut of too. He is running Windows 8.1 Update 1.

I highly doubt this will be a 1.5 yr wait. I expect changes earlier than this. If not at build, then by e3 at least. Im not a graphics/resolution nut so the wait IF true wouldn't bother me but if ms take that long to hit 1080/60, they are severely hampering themselves.

" When we spoke to Microsoft's Anuj Gosalia after the announcement, though, he downplayed the importance of DX12 for Xbox One titles. The Xbox One and PS4 have difficulty running the latest games at 1080p resolution, and Gosalia suggested that DX12 won't necessarily change that or offer any particular new graphical effects. "This just lets you exploit a little bit more of what the hardware can do."
 

http://www.theverge.com/gaming/2014/3/20/5530420/microsoft-claims-directx-12-will-improve-xbox-one-games-wont-require

Read that article and he gave typical MS pr response. Honestly, i don't think we have long before 1080/60 hits x1. The console for what it does is more than capable and powerful enough. Once drivers and system os optimisation is done we will see a change in how resources are allocated as right now, managing 3 os' is taking more than ms expected.

I wonder if this will make GTA IV for PC finally run decently on a high-end PC despite the horrible porting...

Well, basically they didn't care until AMD basically gave them a reason to compete again and valve going to linux gaming put some pressure. typical lazy MSFT act only when threatened, be lazy otherwise.

But I'm happy. Very happy. Hopefully the Xbone will get 1080p now which is just about all I care regarding DX.

No, it wont!

 

" When we spoke to Microsoft's Anuj Gosalia after the announcement, though, he downplayed the importance of DX12 for Xbox One titles. The Xbox One and PS4 have difficulty running the latest games at 1080p resolution, and Gosalia suggested that DX12 won't necessarily change that or offer any particular new graphical effects. "This just lets you exploit a little bit more of what the hardware can do."
 

http://www.theverge.com/gaming/2014/3/20/5530420/microsoft-claims-directx-12-will-improve-xbox-one-games-wont-require

 

I guess we'll see. they are touting better games and improved performance so it is hard to imagine that won't translate into higher resolutions

Forza is a nice game (the best simulator I tried so far), but the enviroment on that is poor. It is easy to achieve 1080p on that, because it is a less graphic demanding game. In  other hand, games like Battlefield 4, The Witcher 3 is heavy demanding, then the lack of power on X1 is more clear, since the esram memory is too small to render 1080p with all the enviroment features turned on like PS4. Then, in order to let the enviroment on, but keep the decent frame rate, they downgrade the resolution sometimes to 720p or 900p (Titanfall is an odd 792p).
I Believe if MS manage to reach 900p as standard, it will be very nice. But until that is completely unacceptable that render only 720p, that was current gen (xbox 360 and PS3). I believe at leat least 900p should be rule and peharps one day 1080p.
But I will not wait, then I will stand with the PS4. I love my Xbox 360, but for now I will go with PS4.

Literally nobody cares what console you are using... Go to the nearest ps4 fanboy circle jerk and talk about how cool your last Gen console is because you can almost see the difference in graphics

The argument of the esram beeing too small is wrong. It did not hold for the Xbox 360 as it does not hold for the Xbox One. Of course the engine needs to employ tiling, as most of the engines for the Xbox 360 did after some time.

And the idea, that there is a standard resolution like 900p is flawed as well. It is up to the developers of an particular title to choose the resolution. That is a tradeoff you have to play on any platform. In many cases having a lower resolution and a higher visual fidelity is the better option.

In other cases it is better to lock the framerate at 30pfs instead of leaving it float. Good example is Tomb Raider, where the PS4 cannot sustain 60fps but instead fluctuates anything between 30fps and 60fps. A limited 30fps is much more pleasing to the eye than large fluctuations.

From what I read, this should really help games take advantage of my AMD FX-8350 8-core processor. After upgrading to 2 GTX 780s in Sli, my PC is a beast but is held back by the processor. This could push back the need to get a new MB and switch to Intel. :)

Also, I'm really hoping they bring that Forza 5 port to retail. I just preordered the Oculus Rift DK2 yesterday, and Forza 5 in VR would be AMAZING.

I'm surprised that after spending upwards of $1000+ on graphics cards you're still using an AMD processor. But you're right in that DX12 might make it a viable option for gaming finally.

When I first built it, I decided on AMD. I got all that hardware recently, but couldn't afford to make the Intel switch.

C'est la vie.

I'm not sure why microsoft is targeting "moble phones". Most people use android or Iphone and microsoft targets neither.

More and better games on WP, so ppl can stop complaining about "not enough apps."

(rant)
I cannot believe reviewers put down phones because of the ecosystem(s) app count. I recently read an oddly late review on the Lumia Icon. The reviewer said the phone was pretty great all around including the camera, which was surprising since he used an iPhone. In the last part of the article, he then advised people not to buy the (on par to other flagships) Icon, because the APPCOUNT, including specific (and obscure dog walking apps,etc) were not on the Wp8 ecosystem, (although he did give some credit to some of the best 3rd party apps.) Ridiculous. So hopefully, this new program will attract more game and app devs.
(rant over)

When we finally see tiled resources, full DX12 utilization and better SDK and driver support later this year I'm guessing that will be when wr see truly mind blowing games coming. E3 should show us the first wave of these games. You can bet any game coming late 2014 and beyond will look amazing on Xbox One.