The heavily teased DirectX 12 API was revealed at GDC today, and the verdict is: It’s basically Mantle. As expected, that is what Microsoft focused on during the press conference.
What makes Direct3D 12 better? First and foremost, it provides a lower level of hardware abstraction than ever before, allowing games to significantly improve multithread scaling and CPU utilization. In addition, games will benefit from reduced GPU overhead via features such as descriptor tables and concise pipeline state objects. And that’s not all – 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.
You can read more about DirectX 12 on their MSDN page, where they show how 3DMark receives a huge multithreading boost by using the new API:
As you can see, the workload is not only shortened with the removal of the KM Driver, it is spread more evenly across the four threads. According to Microsoft, 3DMark received a 50% CPU utilization boost because of this.
They also demoed Forza 5 running with DirectX 12 on a PC. Presumably, the API is structured similarly to the Xbox One’s API, which makes it easier to port games over. The interesting thing here is, rather than use an AMD GPU that is similar to what is used by the console, they demoed the game on an Nvidia Titan Black.
DX12 will almost certainly come with other technologies – this talks about Direct3D only. They have plenty of time to reveal those, as it is targeted for “Holiday 2015”. Thankfully you won’t have to wait until then to buy a new video card, as it will be compatible with all DX11 hardware.