Microsoft announces DirectX 12: forgets to mention compatibility

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 21, 2014
Updated • Mar 21, 2014

If you run a supported version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, your system is automatically supporting a version of DirectX as well.

Depending on which Windows version you use, you may run DirectX 9.0c if you are running Windows XP, DirectX 10 or 11 if you are running Vista or Windows 7, DirectX 11.1 if you are running Windows 7 o Windows 8, or DirectX 11.2 if you are running Windows 8.1.

Microsoft announced DirectX 12 yesterday on the DirectX Developer Blog. The announcement concentrates on the Direct3D component and its new capabilities and features, and does not provide information about other components of interest, such as Direct2D or DirectCompute.

To demonstrate the capabilities of DirectX 12, Microsoft has run the benchmark 3DMark both on Direct3D 11 and Direct3D 12 to visualize performance improvements.

According to the development team, DirectX 12 offers optimized multi-thread scaling and a 50% better cpu utilization (running 3D Mark benchmarks, which is different from real-world applications).

directx 12 performance
Top: DirectX 11 -- Bottom: DirectX 12

This performance boost is accomplished by API improvements, especially in the three key areas pipeline state objects, command lists and bundles, and resource access.

This is all very technical, and if you are interested in those information, I suggest you visit the blog post linked above to find out more about it.

While developers are the main target, it is also of interest to gamers that use Microsoft products. Microsoft failed to address several important information about the new version of DirectX 12.

For instance, will it only be available for systems running Windows 8 and newer, or will it also be made available to users of Windows 7? It is very likely that Windows Vista is out of the picture here, considering that the operating system did not even receive DirectX 11.1 or DirectX 11.2. And since Windows XP support ends next month, it won't get the new DirectX 12 as well.

With Windows 8.1, Windows RT and Windows Server 2012 R2 being the only operating systems to receive DirectX 11.2 at this point, it is likely that Microsoft will make DirectX 12 a Windows 8.1 or maybe even Windows 9 exclusive.

Why Windows 9? Because the company estimates that first DirectX 12 games will be released at the end of 2015. This means that Windows 9 and Windows Phone 9, as it stands now, will be released before first games hit retail channels.

Windows Phone and XboxOne will also support DirectX 12 according to the blog post.

As far as hardware is concerned, Microsoft notes that most dedicated graphics hardware is capable of benefiting from DirectX 12, so that it is not necessary to buy a new GPU or PC just for that. Still, if you run Vista or Windows 7, then you probably will have to upgrade to Windows 8.1 or even Windows 9 to benefit from the new version of DirectX.

If DirectX 12 is a Windows 8.x or Windows 9 exclusive, would you switch to the operating system because of it?


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  1. Raylan Givens said on March 21, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I use the AMD7950 along with 8,1 and they promised DX11.2 support. If they do this for DX12 as well, I’become AMD’s fanboi.

    Meanwhile Nvidia for at least 1-2 generations will be stuck just with DX11…

    And incidentally, forget mantle if MS do the same with DX12. “True Audio” is bogus anyway.

    1. Srap said on March 25, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      Supported* architectures have been released:”As for NVIDIA, Fermi, Kepler, and Maxwell will support Direct3D 12. And for AMD, GCN 1.0 and GCN 1.1 will support Direct3D 12″ (your 7950 is an 1.0, I think).

      * It is not yet known whether it means full or partial support

  2. Maelish said on March 21, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    I still believe that directx is a layer of complexity that slows down graphics no matter what other good it might do. This is not to say opengl is the answer but every time you add a new layer between code and the gpu, it has to slow things down. As a windows user it still annoys me that directx isn’t cross platform, even among windows versions. If you are on xp, no dx10 or dx11 for you, heaven forbid you are on linux.

    Sure alternatives like opengl and mantle are also another layer between software and the gpu. But they have been far more progressive in their development. Directx seems a lot like a legacy dinosaur.

    1. idiot101 said on March 21, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      I might be wrong in my understanding, and please correct me if so – Mantle aims to create a new conduit for instructions for a game to leverage the hardware as directly as the software can be enabled to. It is like a highway bypass (a much shorter route for instructions) from what I am able to make out form all the discussions available on multiple websites. Please do keep in mind that I am over-simplifying the concept. Anything that makes the game play smoother allowing for more efficient use of the hardware, I am in favor of it – be it OpenGL, Direct 3D or Mantle. Most people are unable to have access to high-performance gaming hardware and the Mantle layer seems to accelerate gaming performance substantially for low-performance hardware (lots of hardware sites have articles supporting this).

      The best part is AMD wants Mantle to be open. It is a concept that everybody seems to agree is needed if you want gaming hardware to be efficient and game play smoother. Less steps required in processing instructions by the processors.

      DX is a dinosaur. I agree with you on that point completely. Was a problem and still is a problem. Any improvement is welcome.

      Just an opinion.

    2. MS-PR Department said on March 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      Speaking of OpenGL take a look at this Slide Presentation from the GDC 2014:

      “Approaching Zero Driver Overhead”

      and this Blog post from Nvidia

      “NVIDIA, AMD, Intel Explain How OpenGL Can Unlock 15x Performance Gains”

      Microsoft’s gradually slide into irrelevance continues!

  3. idiot101 said on March 21, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    This is very similar to Mantle. I agree to an extent with this article at Semiaccurate

    Looks to me like MS is grasping at straws trying to stay relevant with the XBone. Trying to restrict it to a particular platform is expected behavior. The PS4 is very very attractive outside the USA where most of the MS services don’t really matter. I will see a lot more popularity for Mantle through the PS4 if AMD gets it right with proper deployment of its capabilities.

    My 2 cents.

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