DirectX, and any release pertaining to it, is big news in the PC gaming scene. With the software having a direct effect on the functionality of graphically intensive software and its requirements, players and developers alike have a strong interest in the path that DirectX takes.
Few DirectX releases however have been hyped so much as that of DirectX 12. By allowing multiple cores to communicate with one another simultaneously, the update promises nothing short of a revolution in graphics card and processor software capabilities, at least when compared to what came before.
What does this mean for the average consumer however? Unfortunately, at least immediately, not a great deal. However, for developers, this is represents a significant step towards photorealism in their products.
As explained by Brad Wardell, founder of Stardock Games, on his blog 'Little Tiny Frogs', any changes that come about will be the responsibility of developers, as they adapt their software to take advantage of the new functionality. However, one area that will see something of a change is lighting effects,
"One of the most obvious limitations games have due to the 1 core to 1 core interaction are light sources. Creating a light source is 'expensive' but easily done on today’s hardware. Creating dozens of light sources simultaneously on screen at once is basically not doable unless you have Mantle or DirectX 12. Guess how many light sources most engines support right now? 20? 10? Try 4. Four"
The capabilities offered by DirectX 12 mean that photorealism in games will be further enhanced as developers are afforded a greater array of options when it comes to bringing their creations to life.
As Crytek's US Engine Business Development Manager Sean Tracy said in an interview with 'Gaming Bolt',
"This is a real force multiplier for developers. On DirectX12 any more control that is given to the developers versus relying on manufacturer drivers is in our opinion a good thing so we hope that it brings with it some benefits for leveraging the power of the hardware in new and unique ways"
As such, for the average joe, change will indeed come, but it might take a while. This is the same for business users, especially as more and more shift their operations to the cloud.
It is perhaps those who run virtual machines who will see the greatest impact in the day to day running of their business. Currently, the process is limited by the in-built restrictions of DirectX 11, which allows only one core to communicate with another simultaneously between the CPU and GPU. With DirectX 12, not only will more VMs be able to be run at the same time, but they will do so more smoothly, in office as well as through the cloud.
DirectX 12 is worth getting excited about, with the first major changes expected to come in the aftermath of GDC later in the year. As Wardell succinctly puts it,
"Your theoretical improvement in performance is (N-1)X100% where N is how many cores you have. That’s not what you’ll really get. No one writes perfect parallelized code and no GPU is at 0% saturation. But you get the idea"
Hopefully, in the coming year, such improvements will come quickly and mean better games and virtual machines for all.
Are you excited by what DirectX 12 offers? Let us know in the comments below.