• Paul Fingleton

Editorial: Will DirectX 12 really make new games look better?

OK, there has been much rumour and speculation since Microsoft first revealed that DirectX 12 was a real thing that would be coming to our computers late in 2015. There have been promises of dramatic improvements of performance, even on existing hardware.

But what does that really mean to in laymans terms?

First, a bit of history. Gather round, kids, it's time for a story of the olden days of video gaming as we take a trip down memory lane. You see, back in the day game developers had to ensure that if they wanted their game to run on a graphics card they had to program that themselves and test that it would use the functions of that card. If a new card came on the market, they would have to work out whether it was worth the effort to code a new driver to support that. The same went for sound cards and other hardware.

After Windows 95 was released, Microsoft decided to grab the bull by the horns and create a common set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that meant the game developer no longer had to care about which graphics card was in your system, DirectX would understand what was needed and would send the request out to the hardware.

The idea was to make it easier to develop games and programmes without having to plan for every imaginable hardware configuration and write custom code for each permutation. DirectX and the Operating System would take care of that - as long as your hardware supported it, which is a story for another day.

As DirectX made it easier for game designers to make games, hardware manufacturers came up with better graphics cards and devices, so Microsoft would add new features, functions and APIs to DirectX.

There were still many bumps in the road, such as CPUs only having one core, so your Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) would often be sitting idle waiting for something to do.

Also, DirectX was always the middle man or the Jack-of-all-Trades. It had to take into account that it would be working with mutiple permutations of hardware and factor that in. Developers couldn't really push beyond the boundaries that DirectX had set.

That is all set to change with DirectX 12, as Nvidia have already shown with their Mantle graphics drivers, with modest estimates of over 40% increases in performance on existing hardware. Of course, this also includes Microsoft's Xbox One, which will also receive the updated drivers. Can it really live up to the hype?

Microsoft certainly has all the big names in the industry supporting it, including Qualcomm which indicates that it should also benefit Windows Phone.

For a closer look at the differences that we are to expect with DirectX 12. Brad Wardell over at tech blog Little Tiny Frogs, has broken down the changes we can expect into bite-sized chunks. Head on over to take a good look at what he has to say and then sit patiently and wait until we shortly see the future of gaming in our homes.

Source: Brad Wardell, Little Tiny Frogs