Microsoft has announced DirectX 12 Ultimate, a graphics API that was designed to facilitate and unify ray tracing, variable rate shading (VRS), mesh shading, and other next-generation graphics techniques across PCs and Xbox Series X consoles. Long story short, these platforms are guaranteed to have some of the best-looking games ever.
“When gamers purchase PC graphics hardware with the DX12 Ultimate logo or an Xbox Series X, they can do so with the confidence that their hardware is guaranteed to support ALL next generation graphics hardware features, including DirectX Raytracing, Variable Rate Shading, Mesh Shaders and Sampler Feedback,” wrote Microsoft’s Shawn Hargreaves. “This mark of quality ensures stellar “future-proof” feature support for next generation games!”
Here are the four core features of DirectX 12 Ultimate:
DirectX Raytracing 1.1
DirectX Raytracing (DXR) brings a new level of graphics realism to video games, previously only achievable in the movie industry. The effects achievable by DXR feel more real, because in a sense they are more real: DXR traces paths of light with true-to-life physics calculations, which is a far more accurate simulation than the heuristics based calculations used previously.
Variable Rate Shading
Variable Rate Shading (VRS) allows developers to selectively vary a game’s shading rate. This lets them ‘dial up’ the GPU power in more importance parts of the game for better visuals and ‘dial back’ the GPU power in less important areas of a game for better speed. Variable Rate Shading also has the advantage of being relatively low cost to implement for developers.
Mesh Shaders give developers more programmability than ever before. By bringing the full power of generalized GPU compute to the geometry pipeline, mesh shaders allow developers to build more detailed and dynamic worlds than ever before.
Sampler Feedback enables better visual quality, shorter load time, and less stuttering by providing detailed information to enable developers to only load in textures when needed.
The DirectX 12 Ultimate standard is fully supported by GeForce RTX, which spearheaded many of these awesome features. “We’re excited to see the technologies pioneered by NVIDIA engineers and the GeForce RTX architecture come to the standardized DirectX 12 Ultimate API, enabling developers everywhere to easily add these game enhancing technologies,” said NVIDIA.