Significant gains come at the cost of some familiarity.
AMD and Nvidia put down the weapons for a bit to call a temporary ceasefire and hold a joint panel on Mcirosoft’s upcoming DirectX 12 API. DirectX 12 is the next generation graphical API from Microsoft that promises significant changes for PC gaming, on both, the consumer and the developer end. That is because it is significantly different from how previous versions of DirectX were.
Given how important DirectX 12 could be, and how different it is, it naturally requires a level of cooperation from all major players in the PC gaming industry if it is ever to take off, which is why it was so refreshing to see AMD and Nvidia hosting the panel together. In this panel, AMD and Nvidia clarified that DirectX 12 and DirectX 11 are completely different- a developer cannot mix and match both APIs, and has to commit to using one or the other. They said that they foresee DirectX 11 co-existing alongside DirectX 12 for a while, if only because of how different DirectX 12 is from anything that came previously.
A lot of these differences come with how the API is structured- it achieves far more performance from the CPU and the GPU, but it requires developers to code at a driver level that DirectX 11 would take care of automatically. Since the API is closer to the metal, it requires different tweaks and settings on AMD and Nvidia cards, as opposed to the kinds of universal settings that could be achieved with DirectX 11. These differences mostly arise from the use of root signature tables.
But all of these problems and changes are worth it, because DirectX 12 can net as much as 10% in gains. The API’s feature set means you are no longer CPU bound for rendering. Bundles, which are the chief of these new features, can lead to extremely low latency rendering; and the API leads to massive gains on the CPU and especially the GPU side.
But all in all, it sounds like it is different enough that developers need to be sure they will be using it, and using it correctly, before they commit to it. Otherwise, it’s a brave, new, uncharted frontier out there.