DirectX 12 Ultimate is the latest iteration in Microsoft's API for game programming. Announced today during “DirectX Innovation Day” (a stream on Mixer that replaced the canceled GDC 2020 talk), it promises to usher in next-generation graphics across both Windows PC and Microsoft's Xbox Series X console in a much faster way than previous API advancements, as explained by Microsoft...

  • Prior to DirectX 12 Ultimate, there was limited overlap between these two cycles. Even when hardware was similar, the software interfaces were quite dissimilar, discouraging aligned adoption by developers. By unifying the graphics platform across PC and Xbox Series X, DX12 Ultimate serves as a force multiplier for the entire gaming ecosystem.
  • No longer do the cycles operate independently! Instead, they now combine synergistically: when Xbox Series X releases, there will already be many millions of DX12 Ultimate PC graphics cards in the world with the same feature set, catalyzing a rapid adoption of new features, and when Xbox Series X brings a wave of new console gamers, PC will likewise benefit from this vast surge of new DX12 Ultimate capable hardware!

DirectX 12 Ultimate is comprised of four main features: DirectX Raytracing, which gets updated to version 1.1; Variable Rate Shading; Mesh Shader; and Sampler Feedback.

It's not just Microsoft who's excited about DirectX 12 Ultimate, anyway. In a briefing with the press, NVIDIA also expressed delight at the opportunity to leverage the power of a unified ecosystem in order to entice developers to make use of the aforementioned features, which are already supported by RTX GPUs.

  • Marcus Wassmer, Director of Engineering, Graphics at Epic Games: DX12 Ultimate unlocks the latest in graphics hardware technology with support for ray tracing, mesh shaders, and variable rate shading. It’s the new gold standard for the next generation of games.

  • Mika Vehkala, Director of Technology at Remedy Entertainment: DirectX 12 Ultimate is going to accelerate the adoption of cutting edge graphics features in games because development platforms are less fragmented. With DirectX 12 Ultimate we are able to adopt new graphics features on multiple platforms faster than before.

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CGI's take: This is big! Not only will the launch of new consoles raise the bar for PC, this API, should all goes as planned, will also allow what I thought DirectX 12 would back in 2015! The vision may finally be realized!