Next version of DirectX to be called DirectX 12, more info coming in March

Microsoft has officially revealed the name for the next version of its DirectX graphics API, and it's a traditional change. In a page on the DirectX blog, Microsoft has confirmed that it will be branded as DirectX 12.

The page also hints that more information on the API will be revealed on March 20th as part of the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The appearance of logos for AMD, Intel, NVIDIA and Qualcomm also hint that DirectX 12 will be compatible with their products.

A few days ago, rumors hit the Internet that the next version of DirectX will enable developers to have low-level access to PC hardware. If true, this would be similar to what AMD has for its own Mantle API, which launched a few weeks ago as a graphics driver for its Radeon line of GPUs.

DirectX 11 was the last major version of the API, and was released alongside the launch of Windows 7 in 2009. Microsoft has released two minor updates since then; DirectX 11.1 for Windows 7, 8 and RT in 2012, and DirectX 11.2 for Windows 8.1 and 8.1 RT in 2013. If Microsoft follows its normal pattern, DirectX 12 might not be officially released until the launch of Windows 9, which is not expected until spring 2015.

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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I haven't seen a DirectX update sent out since June of 2010 - sure you can push new versions for cards but what is the point if the OS doesn't get the updates from them?

yowanvista said,
So SM6.0 will require new hardware, it won't likely be compatible with the Xbox One.

It could be the same as it was with the 360 at the time. When the 360 came out it ran a version of DX9, DX9.0L iirc, that had some of, but not all of, the things in DX10. I could be wrong but the Xbox One could be the same thing, a slightly newer version of DX11.2, maybe like a 11.2b or something, that supports some of the things in DX12.

George P said,

It could be the same as it was with the 360 at the time. When the 360 came out it ran a version of DX9, DX9.0L iirc, that had some of, but not all of, the things in DX10. I could be wrong but the Xbox One could be the same thing, a slightly newer version of DX11.2, maybe like a 11.2b or something, that supports some of the things in DX12.


Afaik every new major version of DX required a new shader model but I think they would make it backwards compatible with SM5.0 desktop GPUs, maybe the Xbox GPU already has the hardware support for the upcoming shader model. Either way they would probably issue a platform update for 7/8.1 just like they did for Vista or some kind of patch for the Xbox One.

I love how every thinks they know what's going support. People don't know jack and should just shut hell up until its revealed. DirectX 12 pretty important for me and lot a people. I plan on building a computer sometime early next year so it's something I will keep in mind. It certain going to be more significant then mantel which could care less.

Melfster said,
I love how every thinks they know what's going support. People don't know jack and should just shut hell up until its revealed. DirectX 12 pretty important for me and lot a people. I plan on building a computer sometime early next year so it's something I will keep in mind. It certain going to be more significant then mantel which could care less.

How rude.

Raa said,
It better be Windows 7 compatible. That's a very large amount of customers right there!

If it comes with Windows 9 like everyone expects and said version has the changes we've heard about so far, there is little reason to stick to Windows 7 even for pure desktop users. From that point, having it support Windows 9 and 8.1 only is less of an issue.

George P said,

If it comes with Windows 9 like everyone expects and said version has the changes we've heard about so far, there is little reason to stick to Windows 7 even for pure desktop users. From that point, having it support Windows 9 and 8.1 only is less of an issue.

Why? What they have works so there is no need to upgrade.

Yes I have cognitive dissonance writing that and neowin readers true hate my last sentence. but 90% of pc users do not care one bit hence XP is still very popular and won't die.

Windows 9 has to do something so crazy and outlandish like a Windows 95 innovation that brings productivity and features people are willing to pay for before they will leave Windows 7.

Windows 7 will be a much bigger thorn than Windows XP in just a few short years even if Windows 9 is a decent OS.

Personally I will be excited and try the RC in VMware but will I wipe my OS out (win 7)? Probably not :-( wont be worth the hassle.

MS should backport DirectX12 to Win 7. Hell they backported DirectX11 to Vista didn't they?

sinetheo said,

Why? What they have works so there is no need to upgrade.

Yes I have cognitive dissonance writing that and neowin readers true hate my last sentence. but 90% of pc users do not care one bit hence XP is still very popular and won't die.

Windows 9 has to do something so crazy and outlandish like a Windows 95 innovation that brings productivity and features people are willing to pay for before they will leave Windows 7.

Windows 7 will be a much bigger thorn than Windows XP in just a few short years even if Windows 9 is a decent OS.

Personally I will be excited and try the RC in VMware but will I wipe my OS out (win 7)? Probably not :-( wont be worth the hassle.

MS should backport DirectX12 to Win 7. Hell they backported DirectX11 to Vista didn't they?

They could back port it, but you would end up with Windows 7 running on top of Windows 8's kernel, driver model, etc etc.

There are technical reason they didn't back port DX10 to XP and there are technical reasons DX11.2 features won't run on Windows 7.

The frameworks depend on driver features and kernel memory prioritization and GPU scheduling changes.

Unlike other OSes, NT actually manages GPU threading/scheduling/virtualization, and when DirectX depends on the OS handling these features, it isn't optional.

For example, there is a reason Windows 7/8 can multi-task and effortlessly handle Direct3D, DirectCompute, OpenGl, OpenCL and other GP-GPU/CPU operations better than OS X or Linux at the OS level without application devised yielding.

I consider Vista and later as different as NT was to win 9x. XP was very different indeed. But Vista was close enough to Windows 7 where directX11 could be ported even if it missed some features in threading with WDDM 1.0. We will have to wait and see what WIndows 9 will be.

If it is like Windows 8.x WDDM 1.2 is very very close to WDDM 1.1 from Windows 7 and IE 10 took just a few months to backport some features. I doubt Windows 9 will be that different as there is no need for radical changes except for some power management perhaps.

XP is a mess and it amazes me people still use it. Yes I also say there is no reason to upgrade for these folks but it is ok at best. XP device driver DDK was a malware writers dream and a video issue can crash an OS rather than recover like Vista/7. I guess longhorn being so long to release made radical changes but at the same time created a monster which is XP today.

If it comes out before the cut off next spring I do hope to see IE 12 and DirectX12 ported to Win 7. Mantle will hurt Microsoft's directX and I am sure Nvidia will make its own version. A directX that can access lower level hardware would be nice if rumors are true.

I disagree that moving from a monolithic non-secure kernel (Win9x) to XP's NT kernel is analogous to a modification of the same NT kernel between XP and Vista?

Just because NT is highly extensible, like adding on WDDM/WDM while keeping XPDM active and transparent to higher layers, doesn't mean the technology was a radical change.

The biggest problem with through the Vista NT kernel under XP would have been in the subsystems and other non-normalized layers, not the kernel itself.


I agree that it would be easier to port WDM 1.3/1.2 back to Vista than it would be to add them to XP as the base WDDM/WDM existed in Vista. However, there is a lot of complexity of difference in the just the WDM 1.x changes. Vista started out with base GPU virtualization and lazy GPU thread multi-tasking.

With Windows 7, this expanded out to support DX11, which was a bigger change in the WDM and how the OS handled GPU threads, essentially preemptive multi-tasking along with adding in basic support of the Xbox OS level subset required to support DX11 and the DX subset the Xbox 360 uses.

With Windows 8, this gets far more tricky, as the XPDM is removed from the kernel, and the OS adds in not only true GPU pre-emptive multi-tasking, but also a 'software'/CPU GPU rendering engine for DirectX, this is how the Vector Composer can work on SVGA and pre DX9 GPUs.

The reason the thread controller in Windows 8 is important is that it extends upon Win7's GP-GPU functionality so that the NT kernel can flip calls between the CPU/GPU based on what is available and would execute faster. Which is something AMD has been pushing in a limited hardware controller form, but adds little performance over what Windows 8 is already doing. DirectX 11.x expects the OS to flip calls from any piece of RAM and to any processor based on what is faster/less busy.

(This is one reason the Intel HD 4xxx series is fast enough to play Crysis on an i5, as Windows 8 can use extra CPU multimedia cores to augment the GPU performance.)

So it seems 'simple' but there is a lot of complexity in each of these WDM generations, that are even more extensive that the simple examples I offer.


Mantle won't hurt Microsoft, as it will continue to work along with Microsoft, just as hUMA, HSA, etc are hardware variations of things NT was already doing that Microsoft helped AMD develop in the first place. The other problem for 'pure' Mantle is that AMD and NVidia would have to fully cooperate, and the only way they are going to do that is through a common access layer that can be used by both DirectX and OpenGL.

GPU specific frameworks have minimal impact on performance, and in the end are wrapped into existing more versatile frameworks. In the 1990s, specific frameworks hurt development, and it was Microsoft and Direct3D that not only saved 3D GPU gaming, but moved us past the 1998 Tomb Raider era of graphics.

So wait a minute.. the version of Direct X after 11, will be 12..... that's a pretty drastic change in naming convention if you ask me.

At least they didn't call it DirectX One Update 1 Feature Pack, just to continue the trend of confusing the living bejeezus out of people with the names. DX12 is a nice breath of normality as far as the version names go.

xendrome said,
So wait a minute.. the version of Direct X after 11, will be 12..... that's a pretty drastic change in naming convention if you ask me.

And windows 9 is kernel 7.0?

Enron said,
Maybe they should have called it Direct X 11.1 or Direct X Feature Pack

It's because Windows 8 included 11.1 and Windows 8.1 included 11.2. The purpose of the story is to show the next version released will be a major version release. It's kind of a big deal.

George P said,
All jokes aside I bet Windows 9 has kernel 6.4.

Probably -- wish they'd do away with the cutesy names and just call it what it is.. Windows NT 6.4. Be so much simpler.

Max Norris said,

Probably -- wish they'd do away with the cutesy names and just call it what it is.. Windows NT 6.4. Be so much simpler.

Well, I don't mind either way but it doesn't really matter what the kernel version is and what the OS as a whole is. So now that we're on Windows 8.1 with a kernel of version 6.3 doesn't really seem odd to me. If you've ever used a Linux distro then you know, the OS versions and the Kernel versions are never the same thing. They never should've started using years though, or names like Vista and XP. A simple number is fine, though what happens when we hit double digits I don't know, saying you're on Windows 12 or 20 years from now just doesn't have a good ring to it.

xendrome said,
So wait a minute.. the version of Direct X after 11, will be 12..... that's a pretty drastic change in naming convention if you ask me.

No, the version after DirectX 11.2 is DirectX 12

I guess it all depends on the features really, rather obvious tbh but I feel some comments will come that completely ignore this common sense angle. We don't know what is added, and until we do any comments are pure guesswork (other than the bits that have been mentioned, but this is obviously only a part of the reveal).

Athernar said,
Go on Microsoft, make it a Windows 9 exclusive and give developers even more reason to move to OpenGL.

If anything, it will only be open to Windows 8 and Windows 9 users. Windows 7 enters extended support next year, and much like Windows XP and Dx10, might not even be compatible with the sub system.

Dot Matrix said,

If anything, it will only be open to Windows 8 and Windows 9 users. Windows 7 enters extended support next year, and much like Windows XP and Dx10, might not even be compatible with the sub system.

Meanwhile OpenGL achieves the exact same feature-set in a platform agnostic fashion.

Athernar said,

Meanwhile OpenGL achieves the exact same feature-set in a platform agnostic fashion.


If you still use an old Windows OS, you probably do not have gaming hardware. Either that or you are insane.

_Alexander said,

If you still use an old Windows OS, you probably do not have gaming hardware. Either that or you are insane.

If you use an new Windows OS, you probably do not have a desktop PC. Either that or you are insane.

Dot Matrix said,

If anything, it will only be open to Windows 8 and Windows 9 users. Windows 7 enters extended support next year, and much like Windows XP and Dx10, might not even be compatible with the sub system.

Yeah I am sure with the burning 7.8% marketshare that companies would love to target that and ignore everyone on 7 and Vista still

sinetheo said,

Yeah I am sure with the burning 7.8% marketshare that companies would love to target that and ignore everyone on 7 and Vista still

They ignored XP's market share with DX10. That worked to get gamers to upgrade. Just check Steam's stats if you don't believe me.

Dot Matrix said,
They ignored XP's market share with DX10.

XP didn't support the WDDM driver model either, pretty significant change.

Dot Matrix said,

They ignored XP's market share with DX10. That worked to get gamers to upgrade. Just check Steam's stats if you don't believe me.

And game/engine developers ignored DirectX 10. Restricting the API to Vista hurt progress, not the other way around.

Funny you should mention Steam too, their latest data from SDD indicates XP still has a huge install base in China - despite the use of modern hardware. DirectX is like Android, a fragmented mess.

Athernar said,
And game/engine developers ignored DirectX 10. Restricting the API to Vista hurt progress, not the other way around.

Not really, there's a fair number of games that support DirectX 10.

Max Norris said,

Not really, there's a fair number of games that support DirectX 10.

And a fair number more that only use DirectX 9.

Max Norris said,

I didn't say otherwise But certainly DX10 wasn't ignored either.

Semantics, the majority of developers ignored DirectX 10 because it's not good business to invest significant developer time (thus money) in supporting APIs with fringe market share.

Windows 7 fixed that problem by starting the exodus away from XP, but also brought DirectX 11 along with it, being the final nail in 10's coffin.

Athernar said,
Semantics, the majority of developers ignored DirectX 10 because it's not good business to invest significant developer time (thus money) in supporting APIs with fringe market share

At the time XP still was the majority, plus the consoles were at the same level, so of course they're going to be a majority using 9.. but don't say semantics when it's something you said. A decent number of games by major publishers supported 10 either at retail or through a later update, some of which very well.

Max Norris said,

At the time XP still was the majority, plus the consoles were at the same level, so of course they're going to be a majority using 9.. but don't say semantics when it's something you said. A decent number of games by major publishers supported 10 either at retail or through a later update, some of which very well.

Did you miss the lower part of my comment? I say semantics because while certainly it wasn't literally ignored, the support the API got was minimal at best.

I owned a 8800 GTS around the time, and certainly would have appreciated more titles that used it. But they simply didn't materialise.

As a former gamer I can tell you everyone and their brother only focused in DirectX9 until just last year. The programmers may want to try DirectX11, but the MBA suits who look at pretty graphs with marketshare sure didn't want to go through and leave these poor XP potential customers behind.

Welcome to what it is like to own a mac or work at Apple :-)

Not even worried about it, developers are going to target the largest common denominator anyways version wise, plus throw on OpenGL and Mantle, it's all good. Besides, you never know, didn't Vista ship with 10 and got 11 later?

Max Norris said,
Not even worried about it, developers are going to target the largest common denominator anyways version wise, plus throw on OpenGL and Mantle, it's all good.

True. They're just barely noticing 11 exists now after 5 years.

Lord Method Man said,

True. They're just barely noticing 11 exists now after 5 years.


Because consoles now support it. If the Xbone and PS4 don't support DX12 then it won't be picked up in any major way. I suspect though that it will work on Windows 7, Xbone, and PS4. Existing hardware will support it as it will be a lower level API update to bring it in line with Mantle, not a whole new set of capabilities.

Asmodai said,

Because consoles now support it. If the Xbone and PS4 don't support DX12 then it won't be picked up in any major way. I suspect though that it will work on Windows 7, Xbone, and PS4. Existing hardware will support it as it will be a lower level API update to bring it in line with Mantle, not a whole new set of capabilities.

The PS4 doesn't support DX11, but it is feature compatible.

Dot Matrix said,
$50 says not Windows 7 compatible.
I know you are foaming at the mouth, hoping this is the case. ;-)

I don't care if compatibility with older versions of Windows won't exist as long as it will bring new interesting features and many new functions.
11.1 was a joke.

Asmodai said,
I suspect though that it will work on Windows 7, Xbone, and PS4. Existing hardware will support it as it will be a lower level API update to bring it in line with Mantle, not a whole new set of capabilities.

No.

DX12 will obviously have new features that require new hardware, like every single version of DX in the past.
Current hardware could benefit from lower level access/performance increases that it offers though.
PS4 don't use DX.
Consoles already have low level access anyway, it's one area they have an advantage, so this feature is purely for PC as devs have been wanting it for many years.
Very unlikely this will be released on Win 7 when it didn't even get DX11.2. DX12 would be a big incentive for gamers to upgrade their OS.

NoClipMode said,
Consoles already have low level access anyway, it's one area they have an advantage, so this feature is purely for PC as devs have been wanting it for many years.

They might, but we don't know how efficient the tools are at this stage. Just saying they do doesn't count for much when the platforms and their software are new.

if they don't then it's a huge smack in the face for consumers for an OS that is supported until 2020.

I understood why they didn't back port DirectX 10 and above for XP due to the new driver model, i know it could have been done but why put in the extra effort, however OS wise there isn't that much difference between Vista/7/8 to mean DirectX being 8 or 9 only.

REM2000 said,
if they don't then it's a huge smack in the face for consumers for an OS that is supported until 2020.

I understood why they didn't back port DirectX 10 and above for XP due to the new driver model, i know it could have been done but why put in the extra effort, however OS wise there isn't that much difference between Vista/7/8 to mean DirectX being 8 or 9 only.

I wouldn't how much difference there is or not but at least between Vista and 7/8.x there are a number of differences at the core level. Regardless of what they do or can do, each version of the OS since Vista has had a new and updated driver model with 8.1 using wddm 1.3 iirc? Add to that a newer kernel to and so on. How much work it'll take to backport all those things to Windows 7 I don't know but I'm sure they do and if it's possible then they could do it. If it's not worth the extra time and money needed then they won't, it's a pure business choice.

We just don't know enough at this point so we'll have to wait for GDC to hear about what they do, regardless with the leaks saying Windows 9 will have a pure desktop mode with a new start menu and store apps in windows I see little reason for people on XP or heck even on 7 to not upgrade if MS has another low price upgrade deal going like they did for Windows 8. Maybe this time around I'll actually upgrade the second PC I have for work that's still on Vista.

TheExperiment said,

The PS4 doesn't support DX11, but it is feature compatible.

The GPU in the PS4 supports DX11 level capabilites. I thought that meaning was obvious from my statement but I'll spell it out more specifically for you since I guess I was mistaken. Of course Sony isn't using the DirectX API specifically. Comparing what version of DX hardware supports is a common way of comparing GPU capabilies even when referring to non-DX platforms.

NoClipMode said,

No.

DX12 will obviously have new features that require new hardware, like every single version of DX in the past.
Current hardware could benefit from lower level access/performance increases that it offers though.
PS4 don't use DX.
Consoles already have low level access anyway, it's one area they have an advantage, so this feature is purely for PC as devs have been wanting it for many years.
Very unlikely this will be released on Win 7 when it didn't even get DX11.2. DX12 would be a big incentive for gamers to upgrade their OS.


Wrong on so many counts... where to start. First I didn't say it wont contain ANY new capabilites. I said it wont be made up of a set of new capabilites (extending those in DX11.x) that current hardware doesn't support. Sure there may be new things here and there but most of the update will focus on giving lower level access to existing capabilites and as such existing hardware will benefit from it. You wont have to get a new GPU to use DX12 (unless your current one is pretty old.)
I never said PS4 uses DX, I was referring to the feature capability of the GPU.
Of course consoles don't use DX I don't even know why you felt the need to state the obvious. DX12 is designed to give PC developers lower level access to the hardware similar to what consoles already have. That was my point.
I doubt they are going to hold DX12 for Windows 9 but if they do then they may not allow it to run on 7. However if they release it prior to 9 I bet it will not be 8.x exclusive and will support Windows 7. DirectX versions were not always tied to OS releases and just because recent ones were doesn't mean they always will be.

i agree there are a number of changes under the hood least of all a lot more work done on power, however i think microsoft should take the middle ground and if it means not taking advantage of some aspects of Windows 8 to ensure compatibility with windows 7 then i think this is worth it as a gesture to consumers purchasing their software.

Don't get me wrong i love Windows 8 and personally run Windows 8.1 on everything, i just think that there should be more effort for a larger majority of Windows users, perhaps even ditching Vista and make DirectX 12 7 and above.

Although i also agree that this is all speculation and ill be waiting to hear/read what microsoft actually puts out regarding DirectX 12, im just keeping my fingers crossed, as im sure having a wider audience will ensure that developers are kinda persuaded to produce some directx games, im sure microsoft is starting to feel the pressure from OpenGL, although not technically up to DirectX 11 it is finding itself being adopted by more and more platforms and developers.

Asmodai said,

Wrong on so many counts... where to start. First I didn't say it wont contain ANY new capabilites. I said it wont be made up of a set of new capabilites (extending those in DX11.x) that current hardware doesn't support. Sure there may be new things here and there but most of the update will focus on giving lower level access to existing capabilites and as such existing hardware will benefit from it. You wont have to get a new GPU to use DX12 (unless your current one is pretty old.)
I never said PS4 uses DX, I was referring to the feature capability of the GPU.
Of course consoles don't use DX I don't even know why you felt the need to state the obvious. DX12 is designed to give PC developers lower level access to the hardware similar to what consoles already have. That was my point.
I doubt they are going to hold DX12 for Windows 9 but if they do then they may not allow it to run on 7. However if they release it prior to 9 I bet it will not be 8.x exclusive and will support Windows 7. DirectX versions were not always tied to OS releases and just because recent ones were doesn't mean they always will be.

No, i'm right. You are wrong. And you're really bad at making a point and wording things correctly, as i'm not the only one to misunderstand you. And 360 and XB1 do use DX. It's not exactly the same as the PC versions, but it is DX.