Brad Wardell and his team at Stardock Studios are working on Ashes of Singularity, one of the first games that will be supporting DirectX 12. Wardell has been pretty vocal regarding his support for DirectX 12 in the past, and rightly so given the number of performance improvements that the new API offers.
Gamingbolt’s Kurtis Simpson recently got in touch with Brad Wardell to talk on a number of topics including the effects that DirectX 12 could possibly have on the Xbox One. With the API launching later this year, will it improve the Xbox One’s hardware performance especially given it’s static hardware nature compared to a PC.
“It won’t have the same impact,” Wardell says. “There are a couple of things that are important in DirectX1 2 for Xbox One developers though. First of all Xbox performance is completely the result of the eSRAM feature and there isn’t a true or false thing with regards to one using eSRAM. You could use it well or you could use it poorly or somewhere in-between, and their API which is the current DirectX11 extension for the Xbox is really crappy for dealing with the eSRAM. That has resulted in what’s called Resolution Gate.”
For those who are unaware, the resolution gate kicked off when a lot of multiplatform including first party titles ran at a lower resolution on the Xbox One. Although things are becoming better with frequent SDK updates from Microsoft, the problem still persists. However Wardell revealed that Microsoft are doing away with the older API used to fetch data to and fro from eSRAM and will be replacing it with the one that comes with DX12. This could bring in huge changes, Wardell believes.
“I’ve never heard Microsoft just come out and, I mean they should just really come out and explain to people why they’re having problems getting games to run at 1080p. But maybe they don’t think their users will understand, basically it has to do with developers aren’t making effective use of the eSRAM API. So in DirectX12 they actually threw it away, they threw away the crappy one in DirectX11 and they’re replacing it with a new one. So that’s pretty huge.”
“They also released a new tool, it’s this optimization tool that will actually algorithmically try to come up with an optimization for the developer. So instead of the developer trying to hand set-up what uses eSRAM, they have their own app to try and do as much of it for them as they can. Third, DirectX11 still serializes stuff from the developer to the GPU. It is low-level but the fact is as low-level as it, it’s still serializing a lot of GPU calls. So it won’t be anywhere near…you won’t get the benefit on Xbox One that you’re getting on the PC.”
Regardless, there will be substantial benefits after all including resolving the resolution issues that the Xbox One still faces till date.
“It’s completely different but you are going to get a substantial benefit. The part I think that users will care about is that it should address the resolution stuff for most people. That’s what I think is the most glaring thing that people are upset about. But it won’t do anything magically. The developers still have to use it, it’s not like your old games will magically be faster.”
“Yeah, it should do that [on resolving the resolution issues due to eSRAM], because in DirectX11 it’s really a pain to make good use of the eSRAM. Where as supposedly in DirectX12 and this is all theory, I haven’t used it myself but the new API is supposed to make it alot easier to optimize your use of the eSRAM memory.
“The API is there for me to use as a tool for the piece of hardware. And the one that was in DirectX11 was not easy, it was a very trial and error process to make use of the eSRAM. In DirectX12 they’ve tried to make it easier to make use with and the easier it is to use, the more likely you’re going to get developers who optimize for it correctly.”
Given the pace at which Microsoft have been releasing on SDK update after another, one can be hopeful that the resolution gate will come to an end in the future. In my opinion, Microsoft should release benchmark results for the Xbox One using DX12 so that we can clearly see the performance improvements it could potentially bring on the console.
Stay tuned for more coverage from our interview with Brad Wardell for more stuff including how the PS4 API is shaping up, new information on Ashes of Singularity, Vulkan and Mantle in the coming days.