The arrival of DirectX 12 Ultimate entails a series of changes not only in the field of the multimedia API par excellence for Windows, but also with regard to hardware, as not all GPUs on the market are designed to make use of all the functionalities that It brings with it the latest version of Microsoft’s API, but which gaming GPUs from AMD, NVIDIA and Intel have full support for DirectX 12 Ultimate?
Every time Microsoft released a new version of DirectX, PC video game developers threw their hands in their heads, it was to return to the starting box in terms of learning due to the fact that many functions were replaced by others and in terms of hardware The same thing happens and it is that the development of new technologies in the hardware goes hand in hand with the development of the API so that applications can use them.
This causes that a good part of the technologies in DirectX 12 Ultimate cannot be used in the majority of GPUs on the market, but by the most recent of all at the time of writing this article. So if you are considering buying a Gaming PC and you are thinking about a graphics card you have to bear in mind that if you make a bad choice when choosing the graphics hardware of your brand new computer you can make it age like milk and what interests us is that he does it like wine.
DirectX 12 Ultimate technologies
In DirectX 12 Ultimate, new technologies have been added, so we have thought to list them one by one so that you can see the advantages of adopting the new API for video games. However, it must be clarified that this is a quick summary of them, so you will find more complete information in the different articles that we have made here in HardZone.
- Ray Tracing: Ray tracing is one of the greatest graphic advancements, as it solves visual problems with indirect lighting, as well as the nature of light on objects. For practical purposes this means more precise shadows and real reflections on objects.
- Mesh Shaders: games have an increasingly complex geometry thanks to the greater number of details, which means that the stages of the 3D pipeline in charge of managing it have become outdated and a renovation has been necessary.
- DirectStorage: technology that serves for the integration and access to the NVMe SSDs from the graphics card, which opens up new scenarios in which the size of the VRAM is virtually unlimited.
- Sampler Feedback: a technology that allows the graphics processor to choose what exact data it requires from the SSD instead of taking entire blocks of data where a good part only ends up taking up space in the VRAM.
- Variable Rate Shading: designed so that the GPU does not perform the same operation several times with fully symmetrical pixels. With resolutions with millions of pixels per frame it results in savings and increased performance by eliminating redundant operations.
All of these technologies require profound changes to the internal GPU hardware, which limits the number of GPUs that have full support for all of these technologies.
Why don’t standard DirectX 12 cards support the Ultimate version?
The fact that Microsoft has not baptized the new version of its API as DirectX 13 gives us the clue that the new API is an extension of DirectX 12. This does not mean that all GPUs on the market with DX12 support can run the games. designed for said API, since there is the exception of not having support for the technologies that we have mentioned in the previous section. So if they are an essential requirement in a game then it will no longer be possible to execute it, even if it has plenty of power to do so.
Why is this happening? Well, for the fact that these require the addition of additional hardware within the GPU to be able to implement. For example Ray Tracing requires intersection calculation units in the shader units of the GPU, DirectStorage requires a new memory controller, Variable Rate Shading new raster units and ROPS, what’s more, even Mesh Shaders require changes in the processor. command from the GPU itself.
This means that a simple driver is not enough to implement these technologies, nor is it possible to access them using shader programs, which implies the purchase of new hardware.
What graphics cards from NVIDIA, AMD, or Intel support DirectX 12 Ultimate?
Regarding the support of DirectX 12 Ultimate, NVIDIA GPUs have a huge advantage today, since all the technologies implemented in the new API had already been implemented in its RTX 2000 series and obviously inherited in the RTX 3000. It is Furthermore, the reference architecture that Microsoft used to model DirectX 12 Ultimate was NVIDIA’s Turing which was used in the first RTX.
The case of AMD on the other hand is particular, the fiasco of their AMD Vega made them return to the design table to create the RDNA architecture, launched as the RX 5000, but architecture despite competing face to face with the RTX 2000 in the market it began to be designed as a response to the GTX 1000 with enormous delays. The consequences of it? The RX 5000 does not support DirectX 12 Ultimate technologies while the RX 6000 does, since RDNA 2 has been updated to have full hardware support.
As for Intel, we must wait for the release of their Intel ARC to have full support for DirectX 12 Ultimate.
The influence of video game consoles
Today, making high-caliber videogames is extremely expensive, which involves large budgets that a single platform cannot afford on its own. So developers make versions of their games for various platforms and today they have it easier than ever for two reasons:
- Today’s consoles have PC hardware, far away are the days of systems with exotic architecture with a large learning curve.
- One of the platforms, Xbox, also uses DirectX 12 Ultimate and therefore the same PC API.
The current situation is that we find ourselves are intergenerational games on consoles that do not take advantage of the functions of DirectX 12 Ultimate. So betting on one graphics card or another will depend on what you want to play and if you have plans to update it in the short or long term. Our advice is that you do not suffer from myopia and choose an RTX 3000 from NVIDIA, an ARC from Intel or an RX 6000 from AMD onwards, since little by little, but constantly, games end up having support for the new technologies implemented in the API.