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Microsoft Fires Back at AMD's Mantle with DirectX 12 (In Theory)

Posted on February 27, 2014

The name is still unknown, but what will eventually become DirectX 12 should be shown off at GDC shortly; we'll be in attendance to report on the new announcements and will also be attending the GPU Technology Conference the following week, so check back for deeper analysis as we are exposed to information. In the meantime, Microsoft's new iteration of DirectX has some between-the-lines reading for AMD's Mantle.

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Tech Report noticed that GDC's schedule has a couple of discussion topics planned for the future of DirectX, including some pretty indirectly-targeted descriptions that underscore Mantle competition. The three most relevant sessions (and their respective links to the GDC website) can all be found below:

Other DirectX panels are also present, but were more focused on dX 11. Actually, one of the discussions is being headed-up by AMD speaker Bill Bilodeau. The other DirectX topics include:

And about half a dozen more.

As far as the "DirectX 12" (we'll call it) discussion panels, the give-away information was in the description:

"For nearly 20 years, DirectX has been the platform used by game developers to create the fastest, most visually impressive games on the planet.

However, you asked us to do more. You asked us to bring you even closer to the metal and to do so on an unparalleled assortment of hardware. You also asked us for better tools so that you can squeeze every last drop of performance out of your PC, tablet, phone and console.

Come learn our plans to deliver."

If you blinked, you missed it. "Closer to the metal" and "unparalleled assortment of hardware" is almost word-for-word what AMD's Mantle pushes as its advantage. Mantle bypasses a lot of the clumsy and inefficient API overhead of DirectX by putting developers a layer closer to the hardware (fewer layers between the game/application and the device means more efficiency, in general). AMD's API has already seen utilization in Battlefield 4 and is being prepped for Thief, but there's no doubt that Microsoft is still the biggest player in this market and has the most resources to assist developers in programming... which generally translates into more games being made with that API.

Regardless, the new DirectX should be good for the industry. It's been a while since we've had anything truly innovative from Microsoft on the consumer/application side, so maybe this will be a good rebirth for them.

We'll be on-site at GDC, GTC, and PAX East to cover all these advancements. Full team coverage will include video work and articles, so be sure to check-in from March 18-27 and again April 11-14 for the heaviest coverage days.

Update: AMD put out a statement saying --

“Yesterday several articles were published that reported that DirectX® and OpenGL are being extended to include closer-to-metal functionality and reduced CPU overhead. AMD supports and celebrates a direction for game development that is aligned with AMD’s vision of lower-level, ‘closer to the metal’ graphics APIs for PC gaming. While industry experts expect this to take some time, developers can immediately leverage efficient API design using Mantle, and AMD is very excited to share the future of our own API with developers at this year’s Game Developers Conference.”

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.