Windows' DirectX 12 Ultimate will help Xbox Series X, PC games look better
It dials DirectX 12 up to 11.
Lori GruninSenior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
ExpertisePhotography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
The "Ultimate" version of DirectX 12, officially launched Thursday by
, doesn't add much in the way of capabilities to the
graphics programming architecture. It mostly wraps together several specific existing programming interfaces into a single update, including:
Ray tracing (DXR 1.1) for more realistic and easier-to-create reflections, shadows and illumination.
Variable rate shading, which allows developers to concentrate system resources where they're more important visually.
Mesh shaders, which gives developers more control over GPU acceleration when it comes to surface complexity for improved performance.
Sampler feedback, to improve performance by, say, allowing a game to reuse already-rendered textures or bypass rendering of surfaces you can't see, as well as to load textures faster (texture streaming), a big part of the Xbox's SSD support.
Though all that sounds esoteric, in practice it creates a unified programming interface across the upcoming Xbox Series X console and
for all the newly hyped acceleration and intelligence algorithms on that console, which is due out at the end of this year. This makes cross-platform game design simpler (at least in some ways for those two), PC graphics-card driver support swifter and -- what we really care about -- means potentially more games looking more realistic and adding playability without taking a performance hit.
Most notably, it was created in conjunction with Nvidia, which added ray-tracing cores with its RTX-generation of graphics processors, and AMD, which added it in the RDNA 2-generation of its graphics processors -- the ones being used by both the upcoming Xbox Series X and Sony PS5.
Watch this: Xbox Series X specs, hackers target US health agency
The gaming experience isn't complete without a good chair