Dev: PS4 API Will Hold Its Own Against DX12, Sony Knows How To Implement Efficient Graphics API

Celtoys founder Don Williamson on the PS4 API.

Posted By | On 01st, Jan. 2016

Xbox One PS4

Microsoft has done a great job of marketing its graphics API, DirectX 12. The API is available on the PC platform and several games such as Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Mirror’s Edge, Ashes of the Singularity and many more will be utilizing the new API. The new API promises drastic performance improvements, specially on CPU processors that have lesser number of cores. It also reduces bottlenecks between GPU and CPU which is an absolute win for dual GPU configurations.

However, there are mixed reports on what DX12 could do for Xbox One. There are no games in development that will reportedly use DX12 on the Xbox One and Microsoft does not have a clear stance whether it will help the console in anyway. But what about Sony making improvements to the PS4’s API? Well, Sony arent’t exactly the revealing type when it comes to behind the scenes development. We do know that they recently unlocked the 7th CPU core which allows developers to offload some tasks to the core but we don’t know what kind of improvements they have done to their API.

GamingBolt recently had a chat with Celtoys founder Don Williamson, who has experience with engine and pipeline optimization (besides developing the renderer for Splinter Cell: Conviction and was an engine lead for Fable) and asked him about his thoughts on the PS4’s API and whether it will hold its own against DX12. Williamson revealed that although he has not worked with the API but “based on many factors it should at least hold its own.”

“The PS4 is a fixed console platform and as far back as the original PlayStation, Sony has been writing the rule book on how the most efficient console APIs should be implemented,” he said to GamingBolt. It must be noted that Sony uses a custom set of solutions and tool set (PlayStation Shader Language) for the PS4 API. The console has two graphics APIs, a low level API named GNM and a high level API named GNMX. The PSSL is reportedly similar to the standards found in DX11, not to mention GNMX reportedly allows developers to play with the GPU in a way that is similar to DX11.

It will be interesting to see how multiplatform games on the PS4 and Xbox One will stack up against each other in 2016 and beyond, given the two APIs’ similar approach. But before any comparisons can be drawn the developers will actually need to use DX12 in their Xbox One versions to begin with. Sony, no doubt, are most likely making improvements to their tool sets and API framework but we shall see how it all pans out in the coming year.


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