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Graphics Microsoft Games

DirectX 12 Promises Lower-level Hardware Access On Multiple Platforms 107

crookedvulture writes "Microsoft formally introduced its DirectX 12 API at the Game Developers Conference yesterday. This next-gen programming interface will extend across multiple platforms, from PCs to consoles to mobile devices. Like AMD's Mantle API, it promises reduced CPU overhead and lower-level access to graphics hardware. But DirectX 12 won't be limited to one vendor's hardware. Intel, AMD, Nvidia, and Qualcomm have all pledged to support the API, which will apparently work on a lot of existing systems. Intel's Haswell CPUs are compatible with DirectX 12, as are multiple generations of existing AMD and Nvidia GPUs. A DirectX 12 update is also coming to the Xbox One. The first games to support the API won't arrive until the holiday season of 2015, though. A preview release is scheduled for this year." Reader edxwelch adds that OpenGL 4.4 already has functionality similar to the improvements brought by DirectX 12 and Mantle: "The announcement of DirectX 12 was a big focus of attention at GDC yesterday. The new API will bring Mantle-like low level access to the hardware, reducing the CPU overhead. The OpenGL talk 'Approaching Zero Driver Overhead in OpenGL,' on the other hand, received considerably less media attention. The OpenGL camp maintains that the features to reduce CPU overhead are already present in the current version. They suggest using the extensions such as, multidraw indirect combined with bindless graphics and sparse textures, OpenGL can get the similar 'close to the metal' performance as Mantle and DirectX 12."
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DirectX 12 Promises Lower-level Hardware Access On Multiple Platforms

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  • Raspberry Pi OpenGL is like DOS-4GW on steroids. I don't think we need you anymore, DirectX.
  • Let me guess... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @09:21AM (#46543007) Homepage

    It's Window 8 only, right?

    • Of course, how else will MS force Windows 8 on people...

      • DX10/11 couldn't force Vista on people. DX12 is even less likely to force Windows 8 on people.

        • Looks like gamers are happily using Windows 8 without DX12 as it is: http://store.steampowered.com/... [steampowered.com]
          • As someone whose laptop broke, and didn't own an install disc for older versions of windows for the new one:

            Let me assure you that we're not happily using windows 8.

            • Dude, it's literally a 30 second download for classicshell and maybe 1-2 minutes playing clicky clicky in the classicshell settings and you have win7 back, albeit with a shell start menu icon instead of the 7 winlogo icon. I haven't seen the metro shit in months ( bluetooth toggling is the last time).

              Once classic shell was installed 8.0 is essentially the same as 7... 8.1 sucks if you use skydrive ( or whatever they call it now ) since you can't have a local acount AND use skydrive.

              TL;DR - win8 + classic

              • not totally, I still don't like the windows decorations. If you install visual studio, there is a thin line around the window, which makes it a little more separate from the other windows. Windows 8 if you have 10 windows openen, you don't see the difference between one and the other window. Further the controlpanel is a chaos, it is even worse than the changes from xp to vista/win7. Would be nice is the could clean this up. You have like 10 different ways to get something done, for example adding a user,
              • Unless you'd have to repeat that process on 300 systems, or wrestle with generating a custom install.

                Dude, it's literally 30 seconds to download Fedora 20 and replace Windows 8, like, and such as.
              • Except for the basic tools that have been migrated to metro. Want to change your wifi settings? Here's a clunky, ugly interface. It fixes some superficial problems, but other superficial problems remain.

              • by Zynder ( 2773551 )
                Dude, it's like literally 30 minutes and I'll have a full Windows 7 copy from Pirate Bay. Get the right tool for the job. Don't go putting lipstick on a pig.
            • I'd appreciate it if you stop making claims for an entire group of people. I have no problems with Win8 and happily use it.

          • Except that there aren't any DX12 games yet. And when they do start coming out they will be too few to really encourage many people to fork over one hundred dollars to upgrade their OS.

    • Re:Let me guess... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zumbs ( 1241138 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @09:36AM (#46543131) Homepage
      According to this [vg247.com]:

      The firm wouldn’t comment on whether Windows 7 would support DirectX 12

      This makes it pretty clear that MS are not planning to support Windows 7, but that they know it will be an unpopular move or that it may be possible to pressure them into supporting Windows 7. After all, why would a game developer use DX12 over DX11 (or even DX9) if it is only supported by a small subset of their market?

      • Re:Let me guess... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @09:44AM (#46543199) Homepage

        After all, why would a game developer use DX12 over DX11 (or even DX9) if it is only supported by a small subset of their market?

        That never stopped them from doing it before. XP had majority market share when DX10/11 were launched.

        • Re:Let me guess... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dingen ( 958134 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @09:52AM (#46543283)

          And the result is that DX9 games are still being released, even today.

          • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
            And with 33% of the windows market still running XP and a further 55% or so running Win 7, why would that change for anything but new games that require resources not available to the average XP machine? Even then, looking at those percentages, you'd only step up to DX 11.
          • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
            Another (perhaps even more important) reason is that the Xbox 360 ran on a derivative of DirectX 9. Most games were ported over from consoles, which made it much easier to go from the 360 to DX9 than to recode for DX10. Didn't help that DX10 was a huge step from DX9 with a complete rewrite of most of the API, so it took years for game developers to port their engines over.
        • XP had majority market share when DX10/11 were launched.

          And virtually every game released after that supported DX9 until Windows 7 got traction. And a lot of them even after that.

        • The thing is, these new DX features (like tesselation) are usually not an integral part of the game visuals. So many games just have a flag (DX9 vs DX11 flag), they make some preprocessor definitions to have two binaries, one with the newer features turned on and one with them turned off. So the windows XP folks could still play all the games (most of them would not have good enough hardware to use the new features anyway). This put the burden on the devs though, while not that hard to make two binaries it

        • They were stupid, we are just now moving to directx 10/11, we could have been there 5 years ago, if they had supported windows xp. Most customers moved to windows 7 the last few years, but only now we can tell our customs we drop xp support. So microsoft makes nices things in comparison to the situation under linux. But a big part of the advantages we have by using windows are last because of the restrictions, and the stubborness of microsoft, not supporting features on mainstream windows versions. That th
          • Its like a few years ago Microsoft seemed t lose some inner core of competence on all kinds of fronts. Firstly there was vista now Windows 8. Next there is Word and Office where the Older versions are more competent, easier to use with better features and less vapourware. Then there is Explorer - at the moment I am still struggling through with 11 but it is a disaster that is struggling with even the most mainstream web pages - the other day even Outlook/Hotmail complained about the browser being non-compli

      • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
        Replace DX12 with Mantle and ask again.
      • This makes it pretty clear that MS are not planning to support Windows 7

        Why would Microsoft have to do anything? OpenGL comes with the driver, not the OS. Microsoft has only ever shipped a crappy software-only renderer.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Why would Microsoft have to do anything? OpenGL comes with the driver, not the OS. Microsoft has only ever shipped a crappy software-only renderer.

          Unlike OpenGL, DirectX requires support from the OS *and* the driver. DX12 drivers are simply not possible on XP. Even DX11 are not possible on XP because there is no support for those features in the OS.

          This is why OpenGL allows you to target video hardware, while DirectX is limited to specific windows version. This makes DirectX much more fragmented environment.

          • Hmm, I was still stuck on the OpenGL part of the summary I guess. That was way more interesting to me. Piss on DirectX. Only today did I get DX10 going, and it's on a super-budget card. And I don't actually care about DX10, it just happened because I finally installed Win7 on a machine with only hilariously instead of incredibly outdated graphics.

      • Bragging rights.
        CryTek Crysis

    • It's Window 8 only, right?

      To be fair to Microsoft, this is not a new strategy for them. Windows 7 SP1 can only go up to DirectX 11.1 and Windows Visa SP2 can only go up to DirectX 10.1.

      Unless I've read the history of this chart [wikipedia.org] incorrectly, then I would assume that both DirectX 12 and 12.1 would be compatible with Windows 8, but that you'll need to upgrade to Windows 8.1 if you want to get DirectX 12.2

    • It's Window 8 only, right?

      It is more likely for Windows 9 (not a joke).

  • A reaction? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dega704 ( 1454673 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @09:31AM (#46543103)
    I can't help but wonder if the game development gravity that is developing around Linux had at least some part in motivating Microsoft to stop screwing around and get serious about releasing version 12.
    • Not likely. I'd love to dump Windows for Linux -- it'd make building new PCs cheaper (I don't pirate my OS), but thus far the majority of the big-game publishers don't seem keen on leaving Windows. I think it will come, but it's no where near the momentum to get Microsoft to care. Not yet.
      • GP didn't say it reached critical mass, merely that there are a lot of things happening right now. Valve is making a major push toward getting developers to do things on Linux. I think that has yet to finish playing out; the pieces are still moving.
      • Dump Windows for Linux. Pretty dumb reason. In fact, not a reason. And, it won't save you money. Back in 2008/9 a Linux netbook was 50ish dollars cheaper. Now, you can't get one (easily). If you have a need for Linux (I do, it runs the applications I want), you will typically get the machine with Windows, and then replace it with Linux. Microsoft gets money, and has one less customer to support.

    • Re:A reaction? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @09:50AM (#46543265)
      From what I'm seeing mobile device gaming is where more consumers are focusing their money. Yes, there are still console and PC gaming but the average consumer is spending their $0.99 on mobile games not $60 games. That means almost no money/traction going to Windows mobile platforms given their tiny market share. It's all going to iOS and Android. With both platforms getting more powerful GPUs and CPUs, MS has to do something.
  • SteamBox (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goathumper ( 1284632 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @09:33AM (#46543119)
    This has nothing to do with competing with Mantle or even improving the DirectX technology stack. The target here is the Steam Box, and Linux+OpenGL to a lesser extent. M$ can't afford to let the Steam box become the dominant PC gaming platform (or at least a major player) as it's threatening to become. The news that Linux+OpenGL could run some Source games much faster than Windows with lesser hardware did not sit well in Redmond, and this is their response.
    • >$ can't afford to let the Steam box become the dominant PC gaming platform (or at least a major player) as it's threatening to become.

      Is it? I'm interested in Valve's new controller, but not in a Steam Box, and I don't know anyone who is. Breaking Microsoft's monopoly on AAA games would be terrific, but I have serious doubts that the Steam Box is going to do it.
      • Steam Box = SteamOS / Linux + Steam on my current gaming PC instead of Windows. It's all we keep it for.

        It's Windows dropping as the dominant platform on the consumer desktop. Once grandma's nerdy grandson gets Linux on his PC instead of Windows, that's what he'll be giving to grandma instead of fixing her aging windows box. That is what will drive MS into the annals of history.
      • Re:SteamBox (Score:5, Insightful)

        by VortexCortex ( 1117377 ) <VortexCortex.project-retrograde@com> on Friday March 21, 2014 @10:50AM (#46543831)

        For me to make a game work on Steam Box, then that means I'm going to make it run on Linux without Steam Box, and that means it's a no brainer for it to run on Mac and MS Win too. I use C+OpenGL as the base of my cross platform development toolchain, and the platform abstraction layer handles all the OS / device specific windowing, input, and audio. Hey, I had to write it once, why not write it such that it'll run on as much platforms as possible if I'm starting out making the engine from scratch?

        What MS would have to do is convince me that I should just ignore Steam, Linux, and Mac to use MS's platform specific DX solution. It's an arbitrary choice in terms of technology (seriously, we're talking fucking drivers here man, it's the hardware that makes the difference). Since it will cost me the same time and energy to choose OpenGL, and as a bonus I get these other marketsegments for free (I love free money), plus free marketing via appearing on Steam and Steam Box... MS is going to have to pay developers to make MS exclusives -- Same shit goes for consoles: Why would I NOT want to make more money by selecting a cross platform engine?

        Right. That's what I thought, there's no real strong argument in MS's favor except if you've already gone with their toolset and you're firmly vendor locked to a dev environment they control (like a fool). Even Unreal4 will support Linux. No one force is going to destroy MS's monopoly, but compatibility with the Steam Box (and its controller) is actually a pretty good reason to not use DX for lots of devs considering the huge volume of folks with steam accounts who can now use them on Linux thanks to Valve getting their games running on Steam Box. MS: We have some slight improvements and you can get at a lower level API (read: better tied to the platforms we'll obsolete soon).

        Non-MS: More marketshare = Free money & No vendor lock in or planned obsolescence. Hmmm, I don't even need to think about this: Cross platform or bust.

        As for the monopoly on AAA games? See the cross platform games on consoles. Now see how Unreal and Source will both run on Linux. The battle is basically over. Going forward publishers will want more money. OpenGL also makes it far easier to port less demanding games to mobile. I just really can't find a good reason to go with DirectX unless that's what you're already shackled too. Any new engine devs would be idiots to not go cross platform. With W8 MS has demonstrated lack of ability to execution on their core competency (OS's people want to use). So, why invest in a windows only solution and bet it all on an unsure thing especially considering the fast growing mobile / tablet gaming segment?

        MS has bank. They'll be around for a while, but it's only a matter of time. Really, it's 2014. The OS should be irrelevant. Applications are what people use devices for, not OSs. MS should just save money and release their own Linux distro.

        • I mostly agree with you but you have to consider that unfortunately there are a LOT of XBox systems out there and if a game dev wants to target that audience (which is a lot bigger than the PC gaming audience) then DX is required... no OpenGL API support on XBox (big surprise.)

          This is why all the major game engines support both DX and OpenGL.

      • by Mirar ( 264502 )

        I'm interested in the steam box. Games would be the only reason for me to keep Windows around.

        And possibly IAR Workbench. But since they don't want to support Linux, I'm trying to move my development team away from that...

    • M$

      I didn't know that was still in style.

    • by Mirar ( 264502 )

      This is my conclusion too. And this is a few days after Steam released their DirectX-to-OpenGL source.

      Valve Open Sources Their DirectX To OpenGL Layer [slashdot.org]

  • Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows RT.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @10:25AM (#46543583)

    Like AMD's Mantle API, it promises reduced CPU overhead and lower-level access to graphics hardware. But DirectX 12 won't be limited to one vendor's hardware.

    Nor will Mantle. I suppose that fact checking really fell out of fashion here on - oh, wait...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah but unlike Mantle, DX 12 will actually work on more than one vendors' hardware. Mantle on anything but GCN is vapourware.

      Still at least we can both agree that this is ridiculous:

      OpenGL can get the similar 'close to the metal' performance as Mantle and DirectX 12.

      The point of Mantle & DX12 is that they are more efficient APIs. The OGL talk is around the fact that you can get good performance if you rearchitect your game around the vagaries of current OpenGL drivers. So that only raises OGL to the

      • Yeah but unlike Mantle, DX 12 will actually work on more than one vendors' hardware.

        Yes, it will work on two vendors' hardware. Meanwhile, Mantle could easily work on Android devices, for example. Or on Linux@anything (POWER etc.) - look ma', no windows!

      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
        Mantle is just an API, it's up to the manufacturer to implement that API. Nothing stopping NVidia. Mantle is not just meant to be good for graphics, but it's also highly geared to use the GPU as a co-cpu, especially for low latency back-and-forth communications. It will obviously benefit AMD's APUs the most because they really need a low latency task passing API to make use of the hardware, but it still highly benefits discreet GPUs.
  • by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @10:47AM (#46543811)
    Opening a window and setting up rendering context in DirectX makes my head hurt every time. You always need a hundred line boilerplate for that. OpenGL combined with SDL or SFML it's usually something like under ten lines.
  • The summary says that Intel Haswell CPUs will support DirectX 12, however it seems that only Iris and Iris Pro iGPUs will support it according to this article:
    http://wccftech.com/microsofts... [wccftech.com]

  • for openGL?


  • We need a stack and a common low level interface like USB Mass Storage for GFX. Only one driver common to all gfx. Implement OpenGL in hardware and interface with it, nothing else. Open source the GFX interface or create a spec, we need one gfx driver and nothing else.
  • Like AMD's Mantle API, it promises reduced CPU overhead and lower-level access to graphics hardware. But DirectX 12 won't be limited to one vendor's hardware.

    Mantle will work on this hardware as well, and won't be limited to one vendor's operating system. From AMD's Mantle FAQ [amd.com]

  • Gaming, today its a really complicated market and I don't think anyone knows where its going. -
    - Apple and Android absolutely vast potential market, but very complex to market in, low margins and tight constraints (esp with Apple). Many companies in this market go bankrupt.
    - XBox One & PS4 traditional high end gaming machines. In current tough market high prices make sales slow. XBOX One is the obvious real reason for Direct X 12.
    - XBox 360 & PS3 still major competitors with much wider user base tha

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