Windows 7 To Support DX10 On CPU

Though the lines between CPUs and GPUs have been projected to intersect in the not so distant future, today things are still relatively distinct, in terms of what types of workloads can be processed where.  In the future, though AMD's Fusion technology and Intel's Larabee processor may well offer the best of both worlds in hardware, Microsoft appears to be planning to take advantage of current, traditional architectures and enable DirectX 10 processing on the CPU in software. 

With the help of a software rasterizer called "WARP" (Windows Advanced Rasterization Platform) in Windows 7, Microsoft plans to fully support DX10 and 10.1 features in software with up to 8X multi-sample AA, anisotropic filtering and various texture features.  Of course things won't run as fast as with a dedicated GPU.  However word is with WARP, weak integrated graphics cores are even being taken to school...

"Microsoft has released some interesting benchmarks that show the system to be quicker than Intel’s current integrated DirectX 10 graphics. Running Crysis at 800 x 600 with the lowest quality settings, an eight-core Core i7 system managed an average frame rate of 7.36fps, compared with 5.17fps from Intel’s DirectX 10 integrated graphics."

DirectX 10 Rendering - image courtesy:  NVIDIA Corp.

And from the MSDN WARP Guide...

  • Fully supports all Direct3D 10 and 10.1 features
    • Fully supports all the precision requirements of the Direct3D 10 and 10.1 specification
    • Supports Direct3D 11 when used with FeatureLevel 9_1, 9_2, 9_3, 10_0 and 10_1
    • Supports all optional texture formats, such as multi-sample render targets and sampling from float surfaces.
    • Supports anti-aliased, high quality rendering up to 8x MSAA.
    • Supports anisotropic filtering
    • Supports 32 and 64 bit applications as well as large address aware 32 bit applications.
  • The minimum specification for WARP10 is the same as Windows Vista, specifically:
    • Minimum 800MHz CPU.
    • MMX, SSE or SSE2 is *not* required
    • Minimum 512MB of RAM


    WARP10 passes all the standard WHQL conformance tests that are used to validate Direct3D hardware devices. WARP10 has been tested against an extensive suite of Direct3D 10 and 10.1 applications and benchmarks as well as SDK samples from DirectX, NVIDIA and AMD.

    WARP10 used PIX for Windows extensively in its testing; we have a large library of single frame captures of applications that we compare between hardware and WARP10. The majority of the images appear almost identical between hardware and WARP10, where small differences sometimes occur we find they are within the tolerances defined by the Direct3D 10 specification.

    CPU, GPU, or software rendered -- regardless, it's clear our computing experience is being defined more and more with powerful rendering effects that will improve immersion, realism and utilization.