Microsoft’s new version of DirectX will boost performance on Xbox One as well as PC and mobile.
During a panel today at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft detailed its DirectX 12 application programming interfaces (APIs), which most pieces of software on Xbox One and PC use to communicate with a system’s graphics card. With this new update (that is due out in preview form later this year), developers will have more direct control over how hardware renders in-game visuals. This could lead to a boost in resolution, frame rate, and all around graphical fidelity. This is especially important for the Xbox One, which has had several games that don’t render at the same resolution as their PlayStation 4 counterparts.
“Xbox One games will see improved performance, and we’ll bring the same API to all Microsoft platforms,” Microsoft development manager for graphics Anuj Gosalia said during his presentation.
Forza Motorsport 5 developer Turn 10 Studios took the stage to present a version of the game running on a PC using DirectX 12. Turn 10 software architect Chris Tector explained that the new API was enabling the company to more efficiently use resources — although, Forza is one of the few Xbox One games to run at 1080p and 60 frames per second on the old DirectX 11 API.
While a preview of DirectX 12 later in 2014, Microsoft only confirmed it would operate on Windows 8. We’ve reached out to the company to determine whether a Windows 7 version is in the works.
Microsoft wasn’t the only hardware company talking up the importance of DirectX 12. It invited chip vendors Nvidia, AMD, and Qualcomm to talk about how this will benefit customers on PC as well as mobile.
“Developers have been asking for a thinner, more efficient API that allows them to control hardware resources more directly,” Nvidia engineer Henry Moreton wrote in a blog post following the panel. “Despite significant efficiency improvements delivered by continuous advancement of [DirectX 11], next-generation applications want to extract all possible performance from multi-core systems. DirectX 12 was designed from scratch to provide the infrastructure for these advanced applications.”
Technology company Epic Games also took the stage during the GDC panel to talk about implementing DirectX 12 support in its Unreal 4 development engine.
“Epic will be working closely with Nvidia and Microsoft to create a world-class implementation of DX12 in Unreal Engine 4,” Epic chief executive Tim Sweeney said. “DirectX 12 is a great step forward, exposing low-level hardware functionality through an industry-standard API to give developers more control and efficiency than ever before.”
As for DirectX on smartphones and tablets, Qualcomm said that DirectX 12 is potentially the API that will link console and mobile gaming.
“We’re excited to see Xbox and PC titles move into mobile,” Qualcomm vice president of engineering Eric Demers said.