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Microsoft’s DirectX 12 will not solve the gaming world’s problems

by on15 August 2014 3170 times

If you have been on the internet at all the last few days you have probably seen all of the articles about how great DirectX 12 is and why it will be a game changer. To be fair the next version of DirectX is looking like it is a massive refinement of the API and one that should bring about some nice benefits to the gamer… the PC gamer. For years many game developers have not made full use of the features and options in the DirectX (DX) API simply because of the extra CPU, GPU and other types of power needed to push these enhancements around the board.

With DirectX 12 Microsoft has cut back the power requirements while still leveraging the same visual and AI enhancements that DX is designed to bring to the gaming table. The reason that this is happening now as opposed to when it should have happened is due to the need to extend the DX API to processors (CPU and GPU) that are not as powerful as what you see on the desktop. The market is shifting at a steady pace and mobile is becoming more and more the front runner in the mainstream industry.

This does not mean that the desktop, server or workstation will go away, it simply means that mobile will be the bigger seller. It also is a node towards the new x86 generation of consoles that have been all over the news, especially when it comes to the Xbox One. The question is: will the reduction in power and CPU cycles really fix the issues that are plaguing mobile and console gaming systems?

In short the answer is no. Sure DX 12 will give you the ability to draw out the wireframe and triangles at resolutions of 1080p and potentially higher while using less system power, but it is not going to do anything to help the smaller number of shaders fill in all of the space between the lines properly. Now, there is a tradeoff that can take place where you lose visual fidelity to gain a higher resolution. Things that would get dropped are AA (Anti-Aliasing), particle effects, in-game physics, HDR, dynamic lighting (think Watch Dogs) and other items that can actually make a lower resolution game seems cleaner than simply pushing to 1080p.

According to CD Projekt Red Lead engine programmer, Balazs Took: “They might be able to push more triangles to the GPU but they are not going to be able to shade them, which defeats the purpose”. This comment is actually shown off in the demo video of DX12 from Siggraph 2014 that is floating around. The demo looking impressive on the surface with about 50,000 objects floating around in space, but there is only one source of light and almost no effects used in the scene. The lack of multiple light sources, dust and or particle effects and also the limited background brings the demo back down to earth on the impressive scale.

In the end DX12 is a good step to improving efficiency in the API, but it is not going to solve your gaming problems on the PC, A Tablet or on the Xbox One…

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Last modified on 15 August 2014
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