Microsoft has officially announced DirectX 12 Ultimate (DX12 Ultimate), its new API for graphics technology. According to the software company, the new API will unify support for both currently existing and all next-generation graphics hardware, including its still unreleased Xbox Series X console.
To be precise, the DX12 Ultimate API isn’t a major update from the current DX12 API, first released back in 2014. If anything, the new API merely improves and builds upon several of the key strengths of its predecessor, while also throwing new features and graphical support into the fray.
Like DX12, DX12 Ultimate will support DirectX Ray-tracing (DXR), Variable Rate Shading, Mesh Shaders, and Sampler Feedback. And that means that game developers will be able to provide a greater performance boost and better graphics in future titles.
More importantly, the new API will bear support for DXR 1.1, which will no longer require the GPU to talk with a CPU in order to use ray-tracing. Allowing it and ray-tracing-enabled game titles to immediately spawn ray-traced scenarios in-game.
As you can imagine, graphics hardware from both NVIDIA and AMD will undoubtedly and greatly benefit from the new API. For NVIDIA, DX12 Ultimate will not only work with all its future graphics card, but also its current Turing-powered GeForce RTX series graphics card.
In the case of AMD, only the brand’s next-generation RDNA2 GPU architecture will be able to support DX12 Ultimate. As the current RDNA architecture and its accompanying Radeon RX 5000 series graphics card do not have the dedicated ray-tracing hardware. That said, it should be noted that Microsoft’s Xbox Series X will be powered by the RDNA2 architecture, hence the console’s ability to make full use of the new API.
At the time of writing, Microsoft did not specify an exact availability date for DX12 Ultimate, but it’s possible that the API will be made available at the same time the Xbox Series X. Which is some time at the end of this year.