DirectX 12 Ultimate Launches As Unifying Force For PC And Xbox Series X Gaming

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Unless you've been living under a rock for quite a while, you know that 2020 is going to be a big year for gaming. AMD is set to launch its second-generation Navi-based RDNA 2 graphics cards, and it's hopeful that NVIDIA will launch its GeForce RTX 3000 Series based on next-generation Ampere GPU architecture. On the console front, both Sony and Microsoft are on track to deliver their PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X respectively in time for the Holiday 2020 shopping season.

Given that consoles are becoming more and more like PCs – for example, the Xbox Series X uses an 8-core/16-thread AMD Zen 2 CPU and RDNA 2 graphics -- Microsoft is looking to consolidate some of the graphical features common in both gaming platforms within DirectX 12. As a result, Microsoft today has announced DirectX 12 Ultimate, which in its words is the “culmination of the best graphics technology we’ve ever introduced in an unprecedented alignment between PC and Xbox Series X.”

DirectX 12 Ultimate is simply the latest in a long line of Microsoft application programming interfaces (APIs) that is primarily tasked with providing an intermediary link between game software and your kickass gaming hardware.

And once again, Microsoft is working hand-in-hand with AMD on the hardware side of things with the Xbox Series X, just as it did with the Xbox One (CPU/GPU) and Xbox 360 (GPU) before it. However, NVIDIA is making it very known that many of the features included in DirectX 12 Ultimate were pioneered on the GeForce RTX Series that launched way back in 2018. DirectX 12 Ultimate centers around the following technologies: DirectX Raytracing (DXR) 1.1, Variable Rate Shading (VRS), Mesh Shading, and Sampler Feedback (texture space shading).

This is a big endeavor for Microsoft and represents years of work behind the scenes that has brought us to this point:

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.

At the present, the GeForce RTX Series remains the only PC graphics hardware on the market capable of supporting all of the features new to DirectX 12 Ultimate. However, that will change when the first RDNA 2 (Navi 2X) Radeon discrete graphics cards hit the market later this year. Microsoft says that DirectX 12 Ultimate will initially bow in the 20H1 Update that will be arrive soon for Windows 10 users.