In 2018, Nvidia launched RTX graphics cards, with some great features for gaming, including Ray Tracing and Mesh Shader. However, Microsoft needs a standard that supports these features not only on NVIDIA hardware. This standard is called DirectX 12 Ultimate, it appeared on Windows 10 PCs with May 2020 Update.
Learn about DirectX 12 Ultimate on Windows 10 and Xbox PCs
- What is DirectX 12 Ultimate?
- DirectX Raytracing 1.1
- Variable Rate Shading
- Mesh Shader
- Sampler Feedback
- DirectX 12 Ultimate in the real world
- When do games benefit from DirectX 12 Ultimate?
What is DirectX 12 Ultimate?
The new DirectX version mainly gathers the current technology and standardizes it for PC and Xbox gaming. This is good news for gamers. Some of the coolest new graphics technologies, like real-time Ray Tracing, are mostly only available on NVIDIA graphics cards. When activated in the game, the feature significantly improves picture quality by making the active lighting closer to reality.
Future RDNA2-based AMD graphics cards, as well as Xbox Series X, will also support DX12 Ultimate. Let’s take a look at the highlights of the new API and why it matters.
DirectX Raytracing 1.1
Raytracing is the exciting new thing in video game graphics. Microsoft calls this version DirectX Raytracing (DXR). This incremental update to an existing technology produces a significant improvement in the overall appearance of games. The secret is to make the lighting in a game work more like it does in the real world.
This means that reflections and refractions look more realistic in water, the rays of the sun look more realistic than images, and shadows with greater visual depth.
With DX12 Ultimate, the Ray Tracing effect is said to be more effective. There will also be an option that gives game developers more control over Ray Tracing, rather than relying on the system.
Variable Rate Shading
Variable Rate Shading is another feature available in DX12. The shaders tell the system what each pixel color, brightness and contrast should look like. However, that process can take a lot of computation and that’s where Variable Rate Shading comes into play. It focuses on critical parts of the gaming scene at full resolution, while less important objects use less GPU power.
Gamers may not pay attention to the overall effect, but it makes working on computers much more efficient. The improved efficiency promises even better visuals and faster gaming performance overall.
Similar to Variable Rate Shading, Mesh Shader also helps the system work more efficiently. This feature allows game developers to create highly detailed worlds without overloading the CPU.
It determines what must be in a scene and how detailed (called the level of detail or LOD). Key subjects will have better detail, and more distant objects are drawn with less detail. Nearly everything you see on the screen is a collection of small triangles grouped together to create a recognizable shape or object.
Sampler Feedback also makes rendering of game footage more efficient. Sampler Feedback improves the way the game loads its textures (surface details on video game objects). The idea is that computers can make smarter texture decisions to render larger and more detailed graphics, but use less video memory. This also helps to avoid problems such as lag and lag.
As noted above, using the GPU more efficiently, can help increase the frame rate.
DirectX 12 Ultimate in the real world
DX12 features promise to make games more intuitive and efficient in using computing resources. However, like all features, implementation is up to the game developers. For example, Mesh Shading has been supported by Nvidia since the end of 2018, but has not really been used yet. Perhaps as part of the DX12 Ultimate, it will become even more popular.
The hardware must also support these features. Microsoft says it will label its new hardware as DX12 Ultimate compatible.
On the console, the Xbox Series X logo will temporarily replace the DX12 Ultimate logo. If you see the DX12 Ultimate or Xbox Series X logo, that means that hardware supports the new graphics API.
When do games benefit from DirectX 12 Ultimate?
DirectX 12 Ultimate is coming to Windows 10 PCs as part of the feature in the 2004 version, released in late May 2020 (also known as the May 2020 Update). Of course, to take advantage of the features, you need a modern graphics card that supports it.
If you have a non-DX12 Ultimate graphics card, any game that supports DX12 Ultimate will still work with the hardware. But your PC won’t see the same visual improvements as other machines. According to Microsoft, there will be no side effects for hardware that doesn’t support DX12 Ultimate.
This is good news for gamers on a limited budget, who will be forced to fall a bit behind to reduce hardware costs.