Microsoft has yet to launch its next-generation DirectX 12 multimedia API, but AMD and Nvidia are both ready with hardware to support it.
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For AMD, its Radeon HD 7000 and Radeon R200 series will support the API, while over at Nvidia support will come from the Fermi, Kepler and Maxwell generation of GeForce GPUs.
DirectX 12 isn’t just a small tweak applied to the top of the existing DirectX 11 API; it’s a big revision. It brings to the table a significant number of benefits, as listed by AMD:
Better use of multi-core CPUs
More on-screen detail
Higher min/max/average framerates
More efficient use of GPU hardware
Reduced System power draw
Allows for new game designs previously considered impossible due to restriction by older APIs
Better use of multi-core CPUs is significant. Currently under DirectX 11, no matter how many cores your CPU has, the first core does the majority of the hard work for the API, with the rest of the cores doing very little. Under DirectX 12, the workload will be far better distributed, even across as many as eight cores.
Given that AMD has a number of competitively priced 8-core processors in its line-up, this might give the company an edge over Intel in the gaming arena.
On the Nvidia side of things, there are new multi-sampling shaders, significantly faster geometry shader rendering and ray tracing shadows.
DirectX 12 will also make better use of the GPU resources available to it, which will benefit system with beefier graphics cards. This, in turn, will give those expensive AMD and Nvidia GPUs a little more to do.
This isn’t just about gaming though. It is also going to benefit other emerging areas such as virtual reality because it will allow existing hardware to do more, and work more efficiently.