SOFTWARE GIANT Microsoft has launched the latest version of its graphics API, Directx 12, at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco.
Confirming rumours that circulated last week, the Redmond firm showed off the new Directx 12 API during a demo of Xbox One racing game Forza 5 running on a PC with an Nvidia Geforce Titan Black graphics card.
Directx 12 gives applications the ability to directly manage resources to perform synchronisation. As a result, developers of advanced applications can control the GPU to develop games that run more efficiently.
"Direct3D 12 enables richer scenes, more objects, and full utilisation of modern GPU hardware," the firm said in a Directx developer blog post. "And it isn't just for high-end gaming PCs either. Direct3D 12 works across all the Microsoft devices, from phones and tablets, to laptops and desktops, and Xbox One."
Microsoft said Direct3D 12 provides a lower level of hardware abstraction than previous versions of Directx, allowing games to significantly improve multithread scaling and CPU utilisation.
In addition, it said games will benefit from reduced GPU overhead via features such as descriptor tables and concise pipeline state objects.
"Direct3D 12 also introduces a set of new rendering pipeline features that will dramatically improve the efficiency of algorithms such as order-independent transparency, collision detection, and geometry culling," the blog post explained.
Microsoft said Directx 12 will also contain tools for Direct3D, which will be available immediately when Direct3D 12 is released.
Speaking to a crowd of developers and press at the launch event, Microsoft development manager of Directx Anuj Gosalia described Directx 12 as the joint effort of hardware vendors, game developers and his team. It will be supported in "Holiday 2015 games", the firm said, meaning games delivered towards the end of 2015.
"[Directx 12] makes great strides in reducing CPU overhead, and it will span PCs, XBox One, tablets and even phones," said Gosalia. "It will attract broad developer support because it will enable developers to use one API that reaches the broadest market."
Nvidia worked closely with Microsoft on Directx development for over four years, with a major focus on reducing resource overhead.
Nvidia architecture engineer Henry Moreton wrote in a blog post that Nvidia has already provided drivers and a Directx 12 software development kit (SDK) to more than 15 game developers as part of the launch.
"Developers have been asking for a thinner, more efficient API that allows them to control hardware resources more directly," Moreton wrote. "Despite significant efficiency improvements delivered by continuous advancement of existing API implementations, next generation applications want to extract all possible performance from multi-core systems."
Moreton also said that developers want to take direct advantage of advanced GPU hardware features.
"Directx 12 was designed from scratch to provide the infrastructure for these advanced applications."
Nvidia is going to match Microsoft's support for Directx 12, supporting the Directx 12 API on all of its Directx 11 class GPUs, including the Fermi, Kepler and Maxwell architecture families. µ