In September, AMD announced Mantle, its new graphics API that was designed to offer low-level access to PC hardware. The first beta version of Mantle was released in February as a graphics driver for AMD's Radeon line of GPUs but so far only Battlefield 4 and the Star Swarm demo of the Nitrous Engine support the API.
Now there are new rumors that Microsoft wants to develop the next version of its DirectX API so it can also have low-level hardware access similar to Mantle. ExtremeTech claims, via unnamed sources, that while Microsoft's implementation will be different than the one Mantle uses, the final result will basically offer the same kinds of features for game developers.
The rumors have also been fueled by statements from the company of what it will talk about as part of the 2014 Game Developers Conference in mid-March. One of the sessions has this description:
You asked us to bring you even closer to the metal and to do so on an unparalleled assortment of hardware. You also asked us for better tools so that you can squeeze every last drop of performance out of your PC, tablet, phone and console. Come learn our plans to deliver.
However, it may be a while before the next iteration of DirectX is made available to consumers. ExtremeTech points out that Microsoft usually releases new versions at the same time it launches a new Windows OS. The last such update was DirectX 11.2 for Windows 8.1, which means that we may have to wait until Windows 9 is launched for what may be called DirectX 12, and that's not expected until spring of 2015 at the earliest.