Earlier in the week, at the Game Developers Conference, Microsoft unveiled DirectX 12, the next version of the company’s widely-used graphics API. One major feature of DirectX 12 is lower-level abstraction; that is, game developers will have better access to graphics hardware with improved utilization of the CPU. This feature will be available across nearly all current-generation GPUs from both AMD and Nvidia.
However DirectX 12 isn’t just a one trick pony. To get the full array of features that will come with the new API, you’ll need new graphics hardware, just like with previous DirectX iterations. Two features for new hardware that have been revealed are new blend modes and conservative rasterization, but according to Microsoft, there’s still a few more features to be revealed.
It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes game developers to implement the features of DirectX 12 that require new hardware. DirectX 11 was released alongside Windows 7 back in 2009, but it took several years for the API level to see widespread inclusion in PC games. This could be due to the lack of DirectX 11 support in consoles of the time, which won’t be a factor this time around as the Xbox One will support DirectX 12.
A preview of DirectX 12 will be released later this year, when all the features of the API will come to light. Games using DirectX 12 are still quite some time away though, with Microsoft estimating that we’ll first see it in holiday-season games in 2015.