Week in Tech: DirectX 12 And Faster PC Games

By Jeremy Laird on March 20th, 2014 at 8:00 pm.

It’s not a huge surprise. But it is interesting. Microsoft has lifted the lid on its latest graphics API, DirectX 12. And the big news isn’t a fancy new rendering technology. The big news is better performance. Just like AMD’s Mantle API, DX12 promises to reduce CPU loads when playing games by as much as 50 per cent. Intriguingly, DX12 is coming to the Xbox One and phones, too. Which brings us to the really good bit. It looks likely your existing graphics card will be compatible with DX12. And that includes Nvidia GPUs…

For me the main thing to grasp about DX12 and that I alluded to in the intro is that it’s a cross-platform API that majors on performance and efficiency. In the past, the big noise with a new DX API was usually some fancy new lighting effect or a clever new way to generate geometry.

But after almost every other part of the computing industry, it’s DirectX’s turn to be assimilated by the quest for mobility. So MS is talking about how DX12 will work across all Microsoft platforms including, “the lowest of smartphones, to game consoles, to the highest-end graphics cards.”

The specifics of what DX12 does and how it does it are still emerging. It was unveiled a little earlier today at GDC, but there’s already a helpful post on the MSDN blog. And an awful lot of it sounds very redolent of the things AMD said about its Mantle API.

Lower level hardware abstraction, improved multi-threading, reduced GPU overhead, yada yada. All very familiar.

The blog post pulls out a couple of examples. To quote, “3DMark on Direct3D 11 uses multi-threading extensively, however due to a combination of runtime and driver overhead, there is still significant idle time on each core. After porting the benchmark to use Direct3D 12, we see two major improvements – a 50 per cent improvement in CPU utilization, and better distribution of work among threads.”

MS reckons DX12 will be miles better for multi-threaded load balancing…

50 per cent lower CPU overhead. Yikes. For the Forza Motorsport 5 Tech Demo, MS is talking about console-level efficiency on the PC. Again, shades of AMD’s Mantle.

As to how all this is achieved, the spiel involves ye olde ‘closer to the metal’ which basically means code that’s closer to running unmodified on your GPU as opposed to code that’s abstracted through multiple languages.

The blog post breaks this down into multiple areas including pipeline state objects, command lists, descriptor heaps and more. Frankly, some of this is beyond my pay grade. I’m not in a position to confirm or deny the plausibility of the claims that have been released.

But it remains very significant that MS even thinks all the above is a good thing to be making claims about at all. It’s also a timely reminder that the push for all things mobile often translates into tangible benefits for the core desktop gaming demographic.

Specifically I’m talking about this comment from the MSDN post:

“We think you’ll like this part: DirectX 12 will run on many of the cards gamers already have.”

Nvidia has been quick to say that DX12 will be compatible with all existing DX11-compliant GeForce GPUs. I haven’t heard from AMD, but I’m going to guess something similar holds. At the very least I’m certain any AMD GCN graphics chip will be compatible. That’s then architecture used in Xbox One, after all, which itself has AMD GCN graphics.

Best bit about DX12 is that it will very probably run on your existing PC

Actually, speaking of AMD, the really obvious question is how this will impact on AMD’s Mantle technology. It seems certain that AMD would have known this DX12 announcement was coming, even as it pitched Mantle to world and dog. What to make of that?

No doubt AMD will comment on that shortly. But I suspect they’ll say something along the lines of Mantle being even better, getting even closer to the metal. Which may well be true. But if DX12 is even nearly as good as MS is claiming, I very much doubt Mantle will gain significant traction.

Essentially, DX12 looks like it will give you most of the benefits of Mantle. But it will work on both AMD and Nvidia GPUs. If that’s true, I can’t see many game developers being too desperate to put the work in to support Mantle.

Update:
Re DX12 and Windows 7, if DX12 is any good, MS will surely see it as a way to push die-hard Windows 7 users onto to its latest OS, whatever that is at the time of DX12’s launch.

Oh, and as for when DX12 will be released, the claim is ‘holiday 2015′ which I believe is American for very late in 2015.

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100 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    It would surprise me if the big pro for Mantle does not turn out to be that I don’t need to switch to an operating system designed for touchfeelies.

    • phelix says:

      I agree partially – I find Windows 8 horribly obtuse, like eating soup with a knife.
      Especially egregious is the way Windows configuration options are split across, like, five different locations.
      However, it also has redeeming features. It’s noticeably faster than Win 7, even on a low-end laptop with a 20mb/s HDD it boots faster than Win7, and (matter of taste) I can’t deny that I like the “flat colour” look on window borders, buttons and sliders more than Windows Aero.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Microsoft did extensive pyschological testing, and found that people’s perception of ‘a speedy OS’ was mostly driven by start up speed. They massaged the boot up time on Win8 to increase that perception.

        It’s still an OS with a UI that’s designed for touch screens, for a user base that had a low percentage of touch screens. When I get a new monitor that has touch, I will give it a whirl.

        Sounds like the DX12 thing is a bit more inclusive.

        • silentdan says:

          I have never understood this. I can’t remember the last time I started up my Windows 7 box. I know I shut it down to add that new hard drive about two years ago, but other than that, it’s either running or it’s asleep. Why are people turning off computers these days? I’m serious, here. Heading out for dinner? Put it to sleep. Going on a two-week vacation without your machine? Hibernate, or turn it off entirely if you want, but try not to sweat the minute or two it takes to start up again. When I think of all the time I spend waiting for a computer to do something, saving myself a minute or two annually just seems like a disgraceful waste of time and effort.

          Do you turn off your computer? If so, why? Followup question: how much does a slow boot time bother you, and why don’t you solve the problem by putting it to sleep instead of turning it off?

          • nrvsNRG says:

            I dont even put my PC to sleep. I just turn my monitor off.
            It hardly uses any power in idle, my CPU clocks down to 5% my GPU does the same and my PSU is in hybrid mode.
            Saying that, I do regularly restart my PC after its been in use for a few hours, just to get all that RAM back from “available” to “free”, but thats just a bad habit I suppose lol.

          • somnolentsurfer says:

            I reboot my MacBook to Windows every day to play the Spelunky daily challenge.

          • Premium User Badge

            drewski says:

            A lot of people do turn electronics off when they’re not using them. You might be surprised at how much energy you save if you turn off everything that isn’t actively being used.

      • LionsPhil says:

        7 made me like Aero. Which is a problem, since usually if you think a new version of Windows is ugly, you switch to classic mode and Windows 2000 lives on in spirit. Except if you do that now, you actually lose Aero functionality, like peeking.

        (That I saw in the 8 preview releases, there is no “Aero but not flat” option.)

        So I’m basically left hoping that by the time 9 swings around the graphical designers have got over this “digital authenticity” nonense and put some damn 3D affordances and subtle visual interest back in.

        (Marginal complaint compared to the actual deep interaction breakages of the UI and removal of the powerful, transient Start Menu, though.)

      • Tams80 says:

        It certainly has redeeming features and is usable. Still settings really are all over the place and there are silly things such as the defaults for files from the desktop leading to Modern UI apps; which is especially bad for files you may want to open in more than one instance. Yes you can change it, but you shouldn’t need to. They’ve also made what was a little obscure even more obscure.

        The faster boot times are mainly down to ‘shut down’ actually being a type of hibernate.

        As for Mantle; I do hope it survives. Perhaps by working on older versions of Windows (specifically 7) and perhaps even Linux. They also it would seem have a large headstart. Sure DX12 will be more widely and readily available when it does come, but Mantle will hopefully have spread and be more stable.

        One thing I would like to know is if to get some of those DX12 results you have do just as much work as with Mantle? Surely as DX12 is also new and therefore DX11.1 does not include it’s enhancements, so DX12 has to be added to engines just as Mantle does?

        • Malarious says:

          The thing that annoys me most about Windows 8 is how obtuse the naming conventions for some system utilities is — when I hit the Windows key and type “Event viewer” I expect it to be able to bring up, well, event viewer. But it doesn’t. Because for some reason now it expects me to type in “Event logs”, which then opens up event viewer. Similarly, typing in “task scheduler” yields nothing — I need to verbify it and type “schedule tasks”. Despite the application being named “task scheduler.” Sigh.

          • drinniol says:

            I type in Event Viewer, and get View Event Logs. Which, I guess, is another way of saying Event Viewer. All you need to type in is Event, really.

            Same thing goes for Task Scheduler. It doesn’t matter what order you put the search terms in.

          • Malarious says:

            You’re right — as long as you don’t complete the name of the application, there are no issues. But you’ll notice if you do finish typing it in all the way (“event viewer” or “task scheduler”) the search yields nothing. If you type really fast this is a problem that takes some getting used to if you go between Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines frequently. I usually go: Windows key -> task scheduler -> enter -> oh now it’s searching for something that apparently doesn’t exist. I mean, clearly they want me to go Windows key -> task sched -> enter. It’s just kind of baffling to me that they’d phrase the applications in such a manner. Why not just use the names they’re called? I mean, they even have aliases for some applications, so it’s not like they do it completely wrong: type “cmd” and you’ll get “command prompt”; it seems like pretty basic UI design to make “task scheduler” and “event viewer” work too. Since that’s what they’re called.

          • LionsPhil says:

            I think “cmd” works because it’s the executable filename, rather than because some explicit effort was made to alias it.

          • Boris the Impregnable says:

            Windows Key + X, then select Event Viewer.

        • Tams80 says:

          Other ways are doing actions are fine and welcome. Not including the explicit terms is madness.

      • paddymaxson says:

        I hate to be a win 8 apologist but:

        Mouse to bottom left corner> settings> control panel
        or windows key, type control and hit enter (you could do this in 7 but it was less performant)

        Every setting is under the control panel, though I still have mine set to old school “show all icons” cpanel.

        Once you get used to it, win 8 works quite well, but by used to it I don’t mean starting to use the fullscreen apps, I literally always just hit winkey and type what I want. I do have a secondary monitor which is a touch screen but basically never use the touch interface though swiping left on the touch screen then tapping two buttons to shutdown is kind of nice if for some reason I’m not sat at my desk.

        Edit: I’d like to point out by quite well I mean as well as any other windows tech. I doubt I’d go back to 7 now, but I’ll admit that if the goal was “simplicity for the end user” then mission failed because using it the way I use it is far from standard end user behaviour.

    • iainl says:

      Well. On the one hand, I’ll be shocked if they support it on 7. On the other, it arrives around the time we’re expecting 9, and that’s sounding a lot like it will be bringing non-touch stuff back to the core.

    • SuicideKing says:

      This will be for Windows 9, which will fix most of the wrongs of Windows 8.

      Also, Mantle is only usable on GCN parts, while DX12 and OpenGL are supported by a much wider hardware set.

  2. Hobbes says:

    That’s my worry too. DX12 might be tied to windows 8. If so MS can jump and swivel. They need to not mess about and make sure this lands on Win 7 this time.

    • Premium User Badge

      El_MUERkO says:

      I’d bet the moneys that Win 9 will be released with DX12 and purporting to be “Perfect for Win 7 users who failed to see how awesome Win 8 was” or as we’ll know it, the “we’re really sorry” update.

      • Premium User Badge

        drewski says:

        Win8 is in a weird spot for me, in that it’s definitely not as bad as everyone thinks it is, but definitely isn’t as good as 7 either.

  3. Shooop says:

    Whether or not it can run on current video cards doesn’t mean nearly as much as whether or not it’ll run on the current version of Windows that isn’t a festering pile of crap (i.e. 7).

    • Nenjin says:

      Yep, that was my primary reason for reading this article too, to see if DX12 as a Windows 8 exclusive was going to be mentioned.

      I think that’s the way it will go. MS has never been shy about shoving its user base into the next generation, when no one actually wants to go.

      • Premium User Badge

        xao says:

        Which is a reasonable position given how recalcitrant and obtuse large segments of their user base tend to be. Even today, when folks should really know better, Windows 8 gets dismissed as an “operating system designed for touchfeelies” or a “festering pile of crap”. In truth, Windows 8 is more secure, less buggy, and more performant than Windows 7.

        Now, folks may not like the UI, but a UI is not an operating system. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to revert to a Window’s 7-esque UI for Windows 8, and you get the best of both worlds.

        • BTAxis says:

          In fact, I use the Windows 7 explorer shell in Windows 8.

        • Geebs says:

          Big mistake; if you want to say that Windows 8 is objectively more secure and faster than 7, you’ll need to prove it, whereas I can subjectively say that it’s a festering pile of crap with no justification required whatsoever.

          Saying that UI doesn’t matter and that you can change stuff didn’t exactly work for Linux-on-the-desktop; and how can you be sure the bits of the interface you’re replacing aren’t interfering with the OS’ much-vaunted stability?

          • derbefrier says:

            Google is an actual thing that exists. If you were really interested you would already know but you and many others would rather let their own preconceptions dictate their beliefs rather than actually, you know actually looking this stuff up for yourself. There are plenty of benchamarks and articles out there you only need to pull your head out of the sand and look for them.

          • Premium User Badge

            xao says:

            Eh, not really. The performance of Windows 8 has already been objectively proven already, over and over again. It’s why folks who bash it only do so subjectively.

            You don’t actually need to replace any kernel or core components in Windows 8 to return to a more familiar desktop. As far as interference with stability, well, that’s why we have layered APIs instead of allowing the UI to hook directly into the kernel.

            I never claimed that UI doesn’t matter, I just pointed out the difference between a UI and an OS since some folks tend to conflate the two. Also, it’s really, really easy to return to a more traditional desktop in Windows 8.

          • aepervius says:

            Maybe i will have to look up again, but IIRC windows performance gain for win 8 in gaming are marginal. For BF4 the biggest performance difference was 5 percentage points, and if you looked at all performance it averaged out. No need to say it does not matter. There is a performance advantage but for gamer it does not matter. That 3% isn’t going to make it much more smoother.

            There are slightly better performance advantage in office environment but that’s another matter.

            TL;DNR : pretending that the performance advantage of 8.1 over 7 is a selling point is waaaay overstating those 3% advantage in average. In fact I will contend it is a thinly veiled lie. The UI fully negate the performance advantage.

            Oh and yes you can nearly have a win7 UI, but there are still a lot of problem. The fact that you need to “downgrade” the UI shows that there is definitively a problem with win8 : it was not made for the people using a win OS.

            ETA: To give a better comparison it would be like having a lot of work to overclock your CPU from 2000 MhZ to 2060 Mhz. 3%.

          • Geebs says:

            Increased security appears to be due to blocking more stuff including office documents attached to emails and making it harder to dual boot. Compelling!

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            “pretending that the performance advantage of 8.1 over 7 is a selling point is waaaay overstating those 3% advantage in average.”

            It’s not a selling point, but it’s a perfectly valid counter argument ( among many others ) against the “pile of crap” bandwagon. Most of those who lead a goofy crusade against W8 are often nothing more than some sort of biological hyperbole generator. Not talking about you, off course.

            Also, i hope this all means that we can get Forza on PC. I know it’s an extremely wild stretch, but think of it, the PC platform has NO arcade-sim hybrid driving game with a career mode and tuning ( yes, Forza is better than SHIFT, sorry ). It would sell like hotcakes.

          • taristo says:

            Well there’s one thing I know for sure.
            And that is that I won’t upgrade to Win8 or a similar OS made for tablets any time soon and this will apply to the company I work at to hundreds of employees too where screwing around with UI Mods wouldn’t even be an option and the employees would likely need to participate in training events for using the new OS and familiarizing themselves with it. If Microsoft wants that business and selling hundreds of licenses they know what to do with Win 9, otherwise Win 7 has at least 10 years of official support and we will see how it goes from there in 2020+.

          • HadToLogin says:

            @TacticalNuclearPenguin: At least now we have proof that MS again lied about “supporting PC gamers” – kinda hard to believe their “we love PC gamers” when they have no PC-game to show off and need to quickly rewrite console exclusive.
            Sounds more like “let’s pretend we talk about PC while we show what XB1 will be able to deliver”.

        • HadToLogin says:

          My friend moved from 32bit XP to 64bit Win7 last Xmas, when he bought Mortal Kombat and read “requiring at least Vista”.

        • Premium User Badge

          RedViv says:

          Yes, that is a dismissal, and to see an advantage in an API just for its existence on one’s chosen platform is inherently silly, just as saying “touchyfeelies”. :3

        • Tams80 says:

          Microsoft have been very condescending and obtuse about Windows 8 (well the whole ‘Modern’ or Metro or whatever). They have taken the ‘we know best’ approach. While in many cases they likely do, they should remember we are paying money for this and we want our opinions to matter, even if they are wrong. One example of this is a blog post by MS employees on the onscreen change. I would say they were downright rude to anyone who questioned the new design. Also see the responses to criticism of the use of capital letters in Office. Those are not the ways to you treat customers.

          I don’t mind a ‘touchiefeelie’ UI being added to an OS as the default. I can see why they have done it and I’ve seen plenty of people who like it. What I don’t like is having the option to remove it almost completely removed without resorting to third party programs; especially for features that were there before. Take Aero for instance. They half-arsedly removed it (yet there are still remnants, thankfully; though I doubt that was their intention).

  4. Geebs says:

    If the pattern is anything like previous versions of directX it will take a couple of years for the new standard to get adopted anyway. I reckon windows 7 has plenty of life in it even if MS pulls the usual API shenanigans; after all most game engines still support DX9.

    I don’t imagine the difference will matter much for laptops though; they usually have good CPUs and terrible GPUs these days

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Remember that Microsoft tried hard to kill Dx9 when they made Dx10 bad-windows exclusive. It didn’t work back then, but now they know they need to try to kill dx10/11 harder.

  5. Jeremy Laird says:

    Re DX12 and Win7, while I loathe much about the Win8 interface, Win8 is at least pretty light on resources by MS standards (8.1 even more so) and while you’re actually playing a game that does give it an advantage over previous Windows iterations.

    I really can’t see MS releasing a DX12 patch for Win7.

    • pertusaria says:

      Windows 8 and 8.1 adopter here, and I agree with you that it isn’t the end of the world, but I wanted to sound a temporary note of caution about 8.1. Many people are experiencing an issue with running games (and some other software) full-screen, on a range of hardware. The link below (to a forum thread) gives a technical discussion. Running games windowed seems to avoid the problem, but I think I’d advise gamers to avoid 8.1 for now unless it’s important to you in some way.

      http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1225941.

      • aepervius says:

        “Hi everyone! Me and some folks at answers.microsoft finnaly “discovered” what was causing this problem.

        It is related to the system resolution and the resolution configured in the fullscreen program.
        This issue is triggered when the resolution in which the games/fullscreen programs are being played differs from the resolution configured on Windows.
        If you are playing a game, say, in 1366×768, you need to change the system resolution to the same 1366×768 BEFORE opening the game. That will stop the excessive memory consumption and you’ll be able to play the game fine. ”

        And people want to push us toward 8.1 when such glaring problem are in ?

    • TormDK says:

      It is also worth mentioning that by the time Direct X 12 is out, Windows 7 will no longer be in mainstream support, and as such it should not be expected that DX12 will be rolling out on that platform.

      Plus of course, we’ll have Windows 9 by then.

    • SuicideKing says:

      I really can’t see MS releasing a DX12 patch for Win7.

      Or for Windows 8. They rather just make everyone jump to Windows 9.

  6. Wahngrok says:

    Why stop at Windows 8 when you can make DX12 a Win 9 exclusive? Just saying… ;)

  7. SirMarth01 says:

    It’s practically guaranteed that DirectX 12 won’t be coming to Windows 7, seeing as how Mainstream Support (read: feature updates) ends January 13, 2015.

    • LionsPhil says:

      That’s a year yet. Windows XP’s (long) life spanned a couple of major DirectX versions, as did Vista’s. I wouldn’t say it’s set in stone.

      However, Microsoft’s current “latest version of DirectX” page does, rather worryingly, show different maximum versions of 11 for Vista, 7, and 8. Whether these are actual functional/compatable differences or just some odd versioning and 7 will just skip 11.2 straight to 12, I don’t know.

      I guess some of it will be informed by how Microsoft feels they did with the DX10-is-Vista-exclusive move.

      • SirMarth01 says:

        With Microsoft aiming at holiday 2015 for DirectX 12, it’s doubtful that Microsoft will release DirectX 12 prior to Windows 7 slipping out of mainstream support. This does not mean that Microsoft won’t either extend mainstream support or make an exception to their typical support cycle to implement DirectX 12, of course, but neither of those scenarios are likely.

        Also, DirectX 11 for Vista came out on October 27, 2009, well before the end of Vista’s mainstream support on April 10, 2012.

    • w0bbl3r says:

      I seem to remember that when they announced win8 they promised 10 years of support for win7.
      Another lie then? Huge surprise there I guess.
      But DX12 will be win9 only. It won’t come to win8. That wouldn’t make them any money, because they know that win9 won’t sell after the abortion of win8. People are really getting sick of ms, so I can only see them doing things like make DX12 exclusive to their new OS to try and force people to buy it if they want to stay at the forefront of gaming tech.

      • ZombieFan says:

        Windows 7 mainstream support runs out in 2015. Extended support (patches, but no new features) runs out in 2020.

      • Premium User Badge

        drewski says:

        There’s a big difference between feature support and general support.

        They’re only just stopping support of XP, but they stopped rolling out features for it 8 years ago or so.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Clavus says:

    I hope Microsoft realizes that if Windows 7 doesn’t get DX12 support, it’ll hamper adoption. Just like DX10’s early days.

    • soldant says:

      Even with the widespread adoption of Windows 7 by gamers, Dx9 still remains incredibly popular. Dx10 support was in plenty of games but the Dx9 rendering path is still widely available even today. I don’t think it’s going to make that much of a difference unless Dx12 offers some significant benefits.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        It certainly looks like a bigger step this time around. On paper off course.

  9. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    As a developer I know better than to trust microsoft by tying myself to their proprietary tech & Khronos are working on the same issues right now, hopefully they’ll clean up Open GL in the process but that’s unlikely.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It is, however, less foolish than marrying yourself to one particular hardware vendor’s API.

      Yes, ideally an open one will be competative. In the meantime, this is better news than Mantle.

      • Premium User Badge

        The Sombrero Kid says:

        I was always against the “to the metal” rhetoric, the arguments were always about Tim Sweeny and John Carmack enacting their privileged position to push for the specific extensions they personally required rather than it being about benefiting developers as a whole. The driver is there for a reason and no one in their right mind wants to go back to the days of gpu fragmentation.

        So yeah I agree DX12 is preferable to Mantle but Microsoft are too erratic to trust with such an important role especially as they lose the PC market, DX for them will be increasingly about xbox at the expense of PC.

  10. Premium User Badge

    fiendling says:

    Dear Microsoft, kindly fuck off and die. Please focus on your console and Mobile OS and forget about PC, let us be free from your insidious grasp.

  11. Iskariot says:

    The next Windows OS will have to be a lot better than Windows 8 if it is going to seduce me to leave Windows 7.
    I have had a dx 9 videocard until September last year and to be honest I still do not care very much for the extras that dx 11 is supposed to have brought to the table. I still feel I would not miss any of it if I had to downgrade. The only thing I would miss is the pure power of my current GTX770OC. So I am quite confident that I can hang on to dx11 for at least 3 to 5 years without any problem at all.

  12. DanMan says:

    Tits Win7 or GTFO.

  13. cylentstorm says:

    Windows 8? What are you babbling about—Ohhhhh–THAT Windows 8. Yeah, the one that caused five people (within the last month alone) to come begging for me to replace/dual-boot with good ‘ol 7 on their systems. That reminds me–has anyone noticed a distinct lack of traditional desktop configurations available from even major retailers? Salestrolls always try feeding me some garbage about underpowered tablets with wonky touchscreens being the next big thing. Sure–just as soon as that crappy little toy allows me to do everything that my 3-year-old desktop supports with minimal fuss and effort, then I’ll be sold. Until then–piss off.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Windows tablets already do everything your desktop does with minimal fuss.

      What is it with mad misinformed pc users and their anti windows 8 bile. I very rarely see any claims that have any basis in reality. Other than the fact it has a new UI, but that just reeks of a fear of change, which is confusing when its so easy to restore it to its old interface.

      Is it because its not cool to like Microsoft? Maybe brain damage from all the ios/android use? I know android made me furious, if I was stuck with my android tablet still I might make up mad claims to make me feel better about my poor choice of platform.

  14. drinniol says:

    Sheesh guys, the fact that DX11 came to Vista should tell you you don’t need to get your little panties in a bunch about your precious Windows 7.

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    Nogo says:

    In the immortal words of Heller: Balls! Late 2015?

    Oh well, if windows follows the good-notgood-good scheme it has settled into I’m not too worried. Save the venom people! There’s time.

    • soldant says:

      Was XP good or notgood? Because when it first came out it was definitely “notgood”. I don’t think anybody called it “good” until at least SP2, and a lot of people retroactively labelled it “good” after Vista.

      • drinniol says:

        And by the time Win 7 came out Vista was “good”. Hmm, I think I’m seeing a pattern.

      • aepervius says:

        When XP came out, It was much better than 98, even with all its problem. That’s what people are referring when speaking of the “avoid odd windows version” pattern.

      • LionsPhil says:

        XP could be fine on release; I had a box run RTM for a long, long time, perfectly solid, before finally giving it SP1 just because it was a dependency of something-or-other. By that point SP2 had been released (I avoided it because I dislike Security Centre, but by now it’s on SP3 because many, many other things started depping on SP2). The box is still rock solid 12 years later.

        Which makes me think a lot of the “problems” were good ol’ driver issues, although admittedly not necessarily third-party (i.e. still Microsoft’s fault).

    • Stardreamer says:

      The pattern is balls, frankly:

      3.1 = Terrible (Not even Atari ST TOS good)
      95 = Good.
      98 = Even better.
      WinME = freakish abomination unto the Lord
      XP = Blessed saviour (Yes, even on launch)
      Vista = Proof that God hates PC users
      Win7 = Proof that God loves PC users
      Win8 = Proof that God is Schizophrenic, but still an improvement on 7 overall.

      • LionsPhil says:

        If you think 3.1 was worse than Atari TOS, I don’t think you used either of them much. It was an order of magnitude more capable. More buggy as well, yes, but TOS wasn’t even a multitasking operating system, outside of the little tool “applications” which could lurk alongside big grown-up “programs”.

        • Stardreamer says:

          It didn’t have to be a multi-tasking OS to be a better OS. I used both extensively, thank you, and much preferred TOS. At least the Atari OS didn’t crash every five minutes.

      • Ovno says:

        I think its fairly clear

        3.1 = Bad
        3.11 = Good
        95 = Bad – You killed Dos!!!!
        98 = Good – Especially 98 SE
        WinME = Terrible
        XP = Good – Even at launch and giant Driver database was amazing
        Vista = Bad
        Win7 = Good
        Win8 = Bad

        Its like star trek all over again….

        Though I think the reality is more

        3.1 = Different therefore bad
        3.11 = World caught up
        95 = Different therefore bad
        98 = World caught up
        WinME = Terrible, bodge of NT & 98
        XP = Good
        Vista = Different therefore bad
        Win7 = World caught up
        Win8 = Different therefore bad

        • Premium User Badge

          Don Reba says:

          95 was Microsoft’s most successful OS. That was the time, when you had Apple-style line-ups in front of stores on the release day.

          2000 was not “business-oriented”. It was near-identical to XP at launch, with the exception of the Fisher-Price UI.

          The actual pattern with Microsoft’s OSs is that they first roll out a major release, making lots of changes, and then a point release, polishing it up. Win2k (NT 5.0) was a major release, XP (NT 5.1) was a point release. Vista (NT 6.0) was a major release, Win7 (NT 6.1) was a point release. Win8 (NT 6.2) is an exception, where they decided to cram a whole new UI into another point release.


          DOS - pass
          3.1 - pass
                      NT 3.1 - pass
          95  - pass
                      NT 4   - pass
          98  - pass
          ME  - fail  2000   - pass
                      XP     - pass
                      Vista  - fail
                      7      - pass
                      8      - fail

          Maybe it’s time for Microsoft to begin a third column. Maybe a Singularity-based OS?

      • Premium User Badge

        Malibu Stacey says:

        I love how most of you never even acknowledge the existence of Windows 2000 or any of the NT products prior to XP.

        • Stardreamer says:

          I thought about it but decided to stick to the non-business oriented versions of Windows.

      • DrGonzo says:

        Vista = bad yet 7 = good? Put the same product in a new package with a new skin, and boom the gullible come flocking!

        • jalf says:

          Well, if the problem *was* the packaging and skin, changing that kind of makes a difference, you know.

          Many of the complaints about Vista were that it lacked polish. So what do you know, the polish Win7 received kind of might have made a difference. Shocking, huh?

        • Premium User Badge

          Don Reba says:

          Timing is important. It is very possible that Win7 would have failed, were it released in Vista’s place.

  16. ResonanceCascade says:

    Oh man, that’s a lotta graphs! This thing must be great!

  17. BreadBitten says:

    “Which brings us to the really good bit. It looks likely your existing graphics card will be compatible with DX12.”

    Are you seriously suggesting that my ultra aged Radeon HD4670 will be compatible with DX12?

    • Premium User Badge

      All is Well says:

      Nah, AMD has said that only GCN cards will support DX12, which means HD 7XXX cards.

  18. Deadly Sinner says:

    So what do you make of nVidia, AMD, and Intel teaming up to say OpenGL has the potential to get 15x more performance?

    http://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2014/03/20/opengl-gdc2014/

    • Megakoresh says:

      Too good to be true. Saying is one thing. Doing is another. OpenGL requires a LOT of work to get the API to the modern standard of graphical fidelity, not to mention the optimizations in the actual games and platforms that both the big corporations and the end developers will have to do.

      They already invested into their Mantles, DX12s and so on. As much as it would be amazing to have one-for-all high-performance open-source, yet megacorp-managed and supported graphical API, I am afraid that is a utopia.

      • DanMan says:

        I call FUD on this one. One problem is developers. The ones who are familiar with DX, and expect to get perfect results instantly without really learning how to go about it in OpenGL. So when that doesn’t happen, they blame the language instead of getting a clue. But noone said it would be easy. C++ is considered high-performance, but if your code sucks, so will performance. Same thing really.

        That’s at least the impression i get. Feature-wise both APIs are on the same level.

    • jalf says:

      Given that they are talking about *existing* OpenGL extensions and features, and that you can test it here and now, today, it’s kind of difficult to argue.

      But they’re talking about situations where you are CPU-bound. That is, the same problem that DX12 tries to tackle.

      In those situations, reducing the CPU overhead can easily make a *huge* difference, because it it is the difference between the GPU being fully utilized, and it being partially idle.

      Of course, not *all* OpenGL code magically becomes 15x faster, but the are talking about real performance improvements available today in OpenGL if you have a recent driver.

  19. Megakoresh says:

    The question is: how will the games use it. I loved the tessellation possibilities when they were shown. But it was barely ever used in games and almost never used to it’s full potential. Most likely due to the old consoles not being able to even look at the video of it without exploding. In the end tech demos matter little.

    It’s about adoption rates and the usage of technology in games that will determine how exciting the technology is. If this performance comes at twice the workload for the developers (i.e. twice the money), I doubt we’ll be seeing those amazing graphics at high frame rates that the development center at Microsoft will want to convince us of.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Well, look at it this way, this time the consoles can make use of most of these technologies, so they should see wider adoption. A lot of it is filtering down to the mobile side as well, and that’s another bonus market to sell to for devs.

      Engines are/will also incorporate most (if not all) of the new stuff, and they’re increasingly supporting easy portability. The remainder of this decade might see the most come out of PC gaming, at least from a technical standpoint.

      • RegisteredUser says:

        “this time the consoles can make use of most of these technologies”

        There are already games restricted to 720p just to get by with bearable FPS.

        The potential of the “current” generation of consoles was seriously overhyped and outdated/outperformed vs any upper midrange PC when they came out already.

        Its why I am so sad so many people still rushed to buy them and blockade progress in once more.
        The PC remains the only growing and organically adaptable gaming platform, but its always getting less than 100% support due to the console diversion(or, put more realistically, more easily for-profit-exploitability apparently).

        • SuicideKing says:

          Um, you’re talking about the Xbone. PS4 is more capable, and there’s a lot left to exploit on both platforms.

          These consoles may be underpowered by PC standards, but compare them to their predecessors and they’re a substantial jump.

          What i’m saying is, it’s not a good idea to underestimate the potential of the current console generation just yet. Xbox may die a slow death relative to the PS4, but the fact remains that devs can code for both using DX12.

          And OpenGL exists too, for cross-platform titles. Anyway, moot point is moot; if the engines devs are using automatically generate consoles ports from PC games, this stuff will still get used even if the original high-level code is different.

          • Asdfreak says:

            Just as an honest question, how in the world is Sony able to use a propreatary Microsoft API on a Sony console that is a direct competitor to a Microsoft console and that uses this said API as a sellingpoint? Seems very unlikely, please post a link to verify. It would be ridiculusly unnormal if Sony did that in that hard market.

          • Premium User Badge

            drewski says:

            Sony don’t use DirectX. There are a couple of APIs in the PS4 – GNM, and GNMX. GNMX does a lot of things to mimic DirectX which makes porting from DX11 pretty straightforward, but doesn’t let you get the same access to the GPU and memory that GNM does.

            Sony will probably re-write GNMX to give devs access to DX12 features if they prove useful, but devs who want to maximise performance will probably still use GNM.

          • SuicideKing says:

            @Asdfreak: Never claimed that the PS4 can use DirectX, was talking about the Xbone.

            What i AM saying is that if an engine like UE4 or CryEngine or even Unity can port to all platforms automatically, there’s little reason not to use DX12.

  20. SuicideKing says:

    Jeremy, I think another major piece of tech news is from Intel:

    1. Haswell refresh to overclock better, they’ve fixed the thermal issues originating from TIM
    2. 9-series chipsets for Haswell refresh and Broadwell
    3. Socketed Iris Pro Broadwell part for 9-series chipsets
    4. Overclockable “Aniversary Edition” Pentiums, based on Haswell.
    5. Haswell-E, 8-core, DDR4, X99 confirmed.

    Basically, Intel’s focusing on the PC again, this year.

    Link: http://techreport.com/review/26189/intel-to-renew-commitment-to-desktop-pcs-with-a-slew-of-new-cpus

    AnandTech has more coverage too, but the post would get filtered so haven’t linked that. TR has most of it under a single link.

  21. RegisteredUser says:

    Yea, this looks like the perfect super-rage setup for neglecting Windows 7 with it.
    Its no good to me whether my GPU will be compatible or not if they won’t allow it on Windows 7 (For no good reason; its nowhere near outdated, fairly modern, 64 bit and on a close enough kernel still to be viable. And unlike Win8, they made a huge hullaboo about how it was specifically tailored towards computer users and how they saw and felt it during use..whereas you got served a tabletized OS hybrid with the initial 8 that only in 8.1 is starting to slowly fix all its issues and shortcomings).

    I hate this stupid “force you to upgrade, coz we’ll just lock out everything cool and useful” maneuvering. This should be one of the things PC users have over Apple.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      I know they have to keep investors happy with lots of profit, but it wouldnt be so bad for us if they just added more service pack upgrades to current O.S’s rather then a whole new O.S so quickly after the last. I mean give us at least 4 or 5 years of a regularly updated OS, before you shove another one down our throat right?

  22. Asdfreak says:

    What I asked myself when I read this article: Who the fuck gives a shit in 2015 that you can probably use a 5 years old gpu? They will probably be very obsolete by then, even with slower replacement cycles nowadays

  23. MkMax says:

    if they tie it to another OS release thats as far as that goes

  24. geldonyetich says:

    It’s certainly a delightfully 21st century ideal when recoding drivers to work how they ought to have the first time counts as a technological innovation.