Microsoft talks up the amazing new capabilities for every new release of DirectX, but with DirectX 12 it really does have some key new features, at least when it comes to improving performance. It also has some new effects tools and functions for making games look better than ever.
A software layer that sits between the hardware that powers our computers and the software that runs on them, DirectX is at the heart of the vast majority of games that run on Windows. The other major gaming API is OpenGL (open graphics library), which as its name suggests is an open source API. Both offer very similar key functions, but it is DirectX that tends to be at the heart of most bigger games.
Multi-Adapter Of DX 12
This will allow for games to utilize multi-graphics processors of different brands and speeds, independent of existing solutions like SLI and Crossfire. It can work with combinations of graphics cards as well as the integrated GPUs inside most modern CPUs. Another key new feature is Explicit Multi-Adapter.
The latter will only add a small amount of performance but it is potentially worth doing, and makes use of hardware that would otherwise be sat doing nothing.
Draw Call Overhead Reduction
One of the key improvements is a reduction in draw call overhead, which is the delay inherent in the CPU asking the GPU to render something. Also, multi-player games can also be prone to CPU-limitation. A good example is Battlefield 4, which could be CPU-limited even on quite powerful hardware. This draw call time reduction is the same core benefit that AMD introduced with Mantle, which is why Battlefield 4 was one of the first games to use that new API (application programming interface).
Why DX 12 Now?
With developers often also working on console versions of games, which use different APIs, the extra hassle of optimizing for specific PC hardware is just too much. All of which potentially helps keep the PC market in general more relevant in the face of stiff competition from consoles and mobile gaming. Generally there is resistance to an API using less abstraction as it potentially makes the life of developers more difficult and gives them more to do in terms of optimizing for specific hardware.
Supported On Graphics Card
DirectX 12 will be supported by the vast majority of PC graphics cards already on the market. Any Nvidia card since the launch of the Fermi architecture GTX 400 series, any Intel graphics since Haswell and any GCN-based AMD cards HD 7000 series support it, which makes for around 70% of the existing install base.
DirectX 12 will be shipping as part of Windows 10, which arrives on 29th July 2015. However, to see the results of that capability Microsoft is targeting the 2015 holiday season for games to arrive that take advantage of DirectX 12.