At the Windows 10 event today there was some talk of the next version of DirectX 12 and what it will bring to the PC for gamers like us. While DirectX 12 will only be coming to Windows 10 (and by extension Xbox One as well) that probably isn't such a bad thing for several reasons, but mainly as the upgrade from Windows 7 and 8 will be free for everyone within the first year.
As Matt mentioned in his overview of the event a few hours ago, the next version of DirectX will bring performance gains of up to 50%, even on DirectX 11 hardware. While this isn't a promise that all games running on Windows 10 will get a 50% performance boost, even a small boost in a few popular titles could make this worthwhile. The main titles to benefit from this will be those that are CPU restricted today such as MMO's like World of Warcraft.
When you are running Windows 10 on DX12 capable graphics hardware (which apparently >50% of gamers already have), there are going to be some substantial gains in performance as far as games developers are concerned, with DX12 providing “closer to the metal” access to both CPU and GPU, probably much the same way as AMD's Mantle does now. As well as this they will be making performance improvements by reducing the load on your CPU from API overhead and Intel showed off exactly how well this works in August last year.
Futuremark, creators of 3DMark explain, “Games make thousands of draw calls per frame, but each one creates performance-limiting overhead for the CPU. APIs with less overhead can handle more draw calls and produce richer visuals. The 3DMark API Overhead feature test is the world's first independent test for comparing the performance of DirectX 12, Mantle, and DirectX 11. See how many draw calls your PC can handle with each API before the frame rate drops below 30 fps.”
Futuremark have announced that they will soon be releasing a version of their 3DMark benchmarking software that will include tests for “API Overhead” and this will test both DX11, DX12 as well as Mantle to see how they stack up on your hardware. The demo used in todays Microsoft briefing to show off the power of DX12 on Windows 10, was in fact this 3DMark benchmark.
Some development studios have also announced that they are already adapting their engines to use DX 12 features, including Unity with the Unity engine and Epic Games with their Unreal Engine 4. These two engines cover a large portion of the games being released for the Windows platform today and this should mean that next-gen titles released over the next few years using these engines on Windows 10 will look all the more detailed while running smoothly.
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KitGuru Says: Even if the performance benefits of DirectX 12 don't turn out to be all that impressive for existing games, the fact that the free Windows 10 upgrade will be in everyone's hands in a few months should mean a fast adoption of DX12. Hopefully faster than DX10 at any rate. Do you run any CPU bound games that you think might benefit from DX12?