Friday, March 20th 2020

Microsoft DirectX 12 Ultimate: Why it Helps Gamers Pick Future Proof Graphics Cards

Microsoft Thursday released the DirectX 12 Ultimate logo. This is not a new API with any new features, but rather a differentiator for graphics cards and game consoles that support four key modern features of DirectX 12. This helps consumers recognize the newer and upcoming GPUs, and tell them apart from some older DirectX 12 capable GPUs that were released in the mid-2010s. For a GPU to be eligible for the DirectX 12 Ultimate logo, it must feature hardware acceleration for ray-tracing with the DXR API; must support Mesh Shaders, Variable Rate Shading (VRS), and Sampler Feedback (all of the four). The upcoming Xbox Series X console features this logo by default. Microsoft made it absolutely clear that the DirectX 12 Ultimate logo isn't meant as a compatibility barrier, and that these games will work on older hardware, too.

As it stands, the "Navi"-based Radeon RX 5000 series are "obsolete", just like some Turing cards from the GeForce GTX 16-series. At this time, the only shipping product which features the logo is NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 20-series and the TITAN RTX, as they support all the above features.
Microsoft's announcement of the logo invited quick reactions from NVIDIA and AMD. NVIDIA has reason to gloat that its circa Q3-2018 GeForce RTX 20-series are already DirectX 12 Ultimate logo certified, and gloat it did. AMD, on the other hand, was left to content with the fact that Xbox Series X has this logo, as its upcoming RDNA2 graphics architecture powers the console's GPU; and an assurance that its next-generation of Radeon RX graphics cards will feature the logo. Intel posted no reaction to this development, since none of its current iGPUs cut the requirements. Gen11 "Ice Lake" supports VRS tier-1, something RDNA doesn't. It's been rumored that the company's larger Xe discrete GPUs (those with two-figure TFLOPs), could implement DXR-compliant ray-tracing.

In our opinion, the introduction of the DirectX 12 Ultimate logo will spark a sense of urgency within AMD's ranks to launch next-gen Radeon RX graphics cards based on the RDNA2 architecture. It will also give Microsoft a vehicle that lets them fight the Sony Playstation 5 hardware capabilities. Perhaps with this logo, Microsoft is trying to communicate that its Xbox Series X console is as capable as PCs with GeForce RTX 20-series graphics cards (which is very much qualified, if you look at the console's hardware specs sheet).

NVIDIA has had raytracing for over a year, with mixed success in terms of adoption rates and how willing gamers were to pay for it. Still, right now, in people's minds, NVIDIA is the raytracing company — the only one. While Microsoft could admit "we've joined the raytracing party, two years later", they innovated their way out of this by creating a new certification that they could announce themselves, to bring parity back to mindsets of gamers. Remember, there's still quite some time before the new consoles release — plenty of time for marketing to work its magic.

Back when DirectX 12 was launched, Microsoft announced that it would be the "last DirectX" — a decision which has been effectively reverted now, because the company has realized the marketing value of new names, badges and stickers. Now of course this will simplify things for gamers that are not hardware experts. They can simply look for the DirectX 12 Ultimate Badge and know they will have what it takes to run the latest titles with all their features — whether that translates into playable framerates on the PC platform remains to be seen.

Microsoft's push for DirectX 12 should also nudge developers to embrace the DirectX 12 API. So far, DirectX 12 has seen very little adoption rate from game developers, with the vast majority of titles using DirectX 11, which is much simpler to develop for, too. Maybe we'll even see the DirectX 12 Ultimate Logo associated with games — to highlight that a game uses the four magical features, and will thus deliver next-gen graphics. The dark horse in consumer graphics is the Vulkan API by Khronos Group. There are plenty of AAA games that provide next-gen eye-candy with this API. It's supported across multiple PC operating systems, and is implemented alongside OpenGL in PlayStation 5. It also has a full-fleged ray-tracing feature-set. Microsoft could also be targeting Vulkan's growing popularity.

Variable Rate Shading is one of the key ingredients for next-gen consoles being able offer smooth 4K gaming. Consoles set the technological minimums for game developers, and it would pay to have a graphics card that's at least aligned with an Xbox Series X in terms of features, if not performance.
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58 Comments on Microsoft DirectX 12 Ultimate: Why it Helps Gamers Pick Future Proof Graphics Cards

#1
Parn
Perhaps with this logo, Microsoft is trying to communicate that its Xbox Series X console is as capable as PCs with GeForce RTX 20-series graphics cards (which is very much qualified, if you look at the console's hardware specs sheet).
I'm not familiar with the existing Xbox or PS4. Does anyone know how long they can sustain the peak performance before throttling due to heat?
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#2
Baum
That's a joke or?

A consumer product which perofrmance degrades over short time? Don't know if that is leagal in the us
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#3
mak1skav
NVIDIA has had raytracing for over a year, with mixed success in terms of adoption rates and how willing gamers were to pay for it
What now? Man are you sure it's mixed and not just a failed attempt? I haven't seen so much NVIDIA pandering like the one we see in these DX XII Ultimate posts in here from the days of the infamous post from TOM's "Just buy it".
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#4
EarthDog
btarunr
DirectX 12 Ultimate logo certified, and gloat it did. AMD, on the other hand, was left to content
Outside of the poor grammar here... didnt amd gloat too?
www.techpowerup.com/forums/threads/amd-rdna-2-gpus-to-support-the-directx-12-ultimate-api.264934/unread
mak1skav
What now? Man are you sure it's mixed and not just a failed attempt? I haven't seen so much NVIDIA pandering like the one we see in these DX XII Ultimate posts in here from the days of the infamous post from TOM's "Just buy it".
How do you feel it failed? While this isnt The Gospel, steam stats show more use Turing cards than navi...and more than most older cards too.
store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/Steam-Hardware-Software-Survey-Welcome-to-Steam
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#5
_Flare
btarunr, i 100% agree. And i find it legit to call this features combined, a next gen capability bundle, wich is needed to push all the industry. Also the synergies Microsoft mentioned, to bring new technics faster to the PC is crucial for a faster evolving industry.
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#7
EarthDog
mak1skav
Failed as raytracing adoption rates. I thing the post was about raytracing. But I get it why you failed to see that and you just saw it as an NVIDIA RTX advertisement.
I wouldnt call anything about it a "failure"... high price, sure. Failure, all signs point to no... which is why I linked steam survey... you quoted cost as well.

www.google.com/amp/s/www.digitaltrends.com/computing/games-support-nvidia-ray-tracing/%3famp

With AMD on board and using the ray tracing with RDNA2 (note amd implements it one gen later - youd think of this wasnt the direction of the future they wouldnt) and it going into consoles, even more momentum will start happening.

Dont penalize nvidia for being first at the table. ;)

Sorry people... those who said they would fail and RT isnt the way forward... here we are with amd joining the fun!
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#8
mak1skav
Yeah I am sure all those people in your STEAM academic survey with RTX cards bought them for their raytracing abilities, come one man don't act like you are so naive. Also check again all RTX critics they didn't say it will fail in the future they just said that it's failure in its first implementation.
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#9
jmcslob
Everything I currently play has HDR or HDR and RT...I don't expect to lose those features going forward...
NVidia looks to be way ahead of AMD...I think NVidia is going to get my business again..
My problem right now is AMD's demo does not bode well for them....I think maybe that's why NVidia really delayed certain stuff...they knew
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#10
EarthDog
mak1skav
Yeah I am sure all those people in your STEAM academic survey with RTX cards bought them for their raytracing abilities, come one man don't act like you are so naive. Also check again all RTX critics they didn't say it will fail in the future they just said that it's failure in its first implementation.
lol....
EarthDog
Dont penalize nvidia for being first at the table. ;)
Failure....lol. Critics? Lol...It failed so hard that they sold more even with the higher price, and amd immediately jumped on that failing rt bandwagon with AAA titles on it and more coming monthly. Good call, all!
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#11
Vayra86
EarthDog
Sorry people... those who said they would fail and RT isnt the way forward... here we are with amd joining the fun!
Correct and I concede that point entirely. But Turing however... even with this sticker, that will age rapidly for sure. The perf jump Ampere has to make now to even keep pace with XSX is going to make most of the Turing line up obsolete by raw performance alone and they also can't stick happily with the current % of die for RT, something's gotta give. I think if you've got anything under 2070S, you just can't miss out. Same goes for RDNA2 btw. Will be interesting to see price...
mak1skav
Yeah I am sure all those people in your STEAM academic survey with RTX cards bought them for their raytracing abilities, come one man don't act like you are so naive. Also check again all RTX critics they didn't say it will fail in the future they just said that it's failure in its first implementation.
That is correct but it is only a failure if you thought Turing was the be-all end all for RT which it obviously isn't. And the fact that Nvidia invested early in a technology that is now growing and gaining broad adoption is not a failure... its a huge success for them. Despite the lackluster RT content. This DXIIU article is perfect proof of that. Nvidia is the only company capable of swinging RT dick. Even if its a micropenis at this time :D
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#12
EarthDog
jmcslob
Everything I currently play has HDR or HDR and RT...I don't expect to lose those features going forward...
NVidia looks to be way ahead of AMD...I think NVidia is going to get my business again..
My problem right now is AMD's demo does not bode well for them....I think maybe that's why NVidia really delayed certain stuff...they knew
Ampre isnt that ready yet in the first place. Nvidia hasn't seemingly delayed anything.
Vayra86
The perf jump Ampere has to make now to even keep pace with XSX is going to make most of the Turing line up obsolete by raw performance alone
You think? Considering its 4k60 target, RTX 2080 Super/2080 Ti already do that in many titles.

Surely Ampre will increase RT capabilities, no doubt. Turing was the first crack at an emerging technology... I'm not surprised at all that it is behind the new curve... who would be? I simply take exception to the point of that dude calling it a "failure". Clearly it isn't from almost any perspective. Price be damned, it sold! More RTX 2060s are on steam than the RX 580 which has been out for years.
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#13
Mistral
As it stands, the "Navi"-based Radeon RX 5000 series are "obsolete", just like some Turing cards from the GeForce GTX 16-series.
Pretty sure the RTX 26-series are "obsolete" too, based on their RT performance...
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#14
mechtech
DX12.......my only experience with this was BL3 and it stunk. Playing with DX11 and good.
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#15
EarthDog
mechtech
DX12.......my only experience with this was BL3 and it stunk. Playing with DX11 and good.
You should expand your horizons. In many cases, it works better than DX11 or Vulkan. It depends... but its the way to go, really.
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#16
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
I don't see the point. In a few years, only "Ultimate" GPUs will be available as the old architectures are pushed out of the market. There's no reason for Microsoft to create this branding.
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#17
mechtech
EarthDog
You should expand your horizons. In many cases, it works better than DX11 or Vulkan. It depends... but its the way to go, really.
Kids work life etc. I don’t even have 3 hours logged on it. Hopefully have 1 guy max level by next year. If time permits
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#18
Xzibit
Like all things DX its going to take until the next DX arrives for the previous version to be utilized by devs and who knows how long until its widely used.
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#19
EarthDog
FordGT90Concept
I don't see the point. In a few years, only "Ultimate" GPUs will be available as the old architectures are pushed out of the market. There's no reason for Microsoft to create this branding.
New. Stickers. Hype.

Plenty of reasons. :p
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#20
efikkan
Ray tracing is certainly going to be used as a selling point, just like AMD used their supposed "superiority" in DirectX 12 for years. But for gamers it will only start to really matter when there are games with significant advantages. (Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful feature, but the good software isn't there yet)

Basing purchases on "future proofing" have a terrible track record, whether it's regarding memory specs or fancy features. Even the best of us don't know which games we will be playing in three years, and even by then we will probably be planning our next purchases anyway. My advice remains to base purchases on relevant games today, add a little performance headroom, and look for a good deal, then stick with it until you're dissatisfied.
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#21
theoneandonlymrk
Bta showing massive bias again, no rtx2### card shipped with a DX 12 ulty sticker, they may add them now.
And no card is instantly Eol like he implied, it'll be two to three years before Raster only cards become old per say, Devs don't move that fast.
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#22
Fluffmeister
It's worth reading AnandTech's write up:
For Microsoft, the importance of DirectX 12 Ultimate is twofold. First, DirectX has accumulated a lot of new features since its last feature set, feature level 12_1, was defined over half a decade ago. So DirectX has been overdue to package up features introduced by things like NVIDIA’s Turing GPU architecture as well as AMD’s forthcoming RDNA2 architecture. The end result of that process is the new feature level 12_2, or as it’s being branded, DirectX 12 Ultimate.
And the fact is RTX Turing cards support all this stuff already.

www.anandtech.com/show/15637/microsoft-intros-directx-12-ultimate-next-gen-feature-set
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#24
W1zzard
theoneandonlymrk
Bta showing massive bias again, no rtx2### card shipped with a DX 12 ulty sticker, they may add them now.
And no card is instantly Eol like he implied, it'll be two to three years before Raster only cards become old per say, Devs don't move that fast.
I wrote Large parts of the editorial btw. Not sure where I implied they are eol. I don't doubt for a second, that if microsoft marketing works, people will look for cards with ultimate badge, very soon, even if other cards will run any game just fine - just like when dx12 came out amd people suddenly wanted to future proof, buying dx12 cards
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#25
Fluffmeister
xkm1948
Man Turing FineWine while Navi Gen1 does not even support Tier1 VRS. Big oof.
Indeedy! You gained like over 75% performance on 3D Mark's VRS test! It's a nice feature that should get a lot of love from developers now RDNA2 finally brings AMD on par with Turing.
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