The advent of low-level APIs such as DirectX 12 and Vulkan have the potential to revolutionize the way modern games scale across various hardware setups. Clearly the gains compared to DirectX 11 are still unknown until a game’s engine offers a direct comparison between the two APIs on identical hardware. Theoretically, it could be the most significant change to PC gaming in years and allow for enhanced optimization. There’s a huge debate regarding Microsoft’s DirectX 12 system and the open source Vulkan API. In a recent interview with Tom’s Hardware, AMD’s VR director, Daryl Sartain described the current state of modern APIs and how mantle contributed to the development of DirectX 12:
“I view Mantle as something – because we did a lot of contribution to the features into DX12 – that has been spun into DX12 in so many ways. But to your question on Vulkan versus DX12, without getting into all the religious aspect, what I said yesterday [on the VR Fest panel] is that I think that both serve a need and add value. Can you make an argument that one is better than the other? You can make an argument about anything. Just bring a lawyer into the room.”
“But I do believe that, and what I most am concerned about is our ISVs, the ISV community, where they gain the greatest benefit. You know, there are some people developing on Linux, all different flavors of life – so it’s a difficult question as to which [API] should we be focused on, which one is better”.
“My opinion is that Windows as a platform, as an OS, is far better and far more evolved today than some of the previous generations, and that’s to be expected. DX12 and its integration into Windows is a great experience, is a great development environment, and has great compatibility. Does that mean that Vulkan doesn’t have a place? No. I think that answer really has to come from the development community, not from us.”
This is a fairly non-committal response but it’s too easy to see a clear advantage from either API. At least there’s a clear alternative to DirectX 12 if you want to go down the open source route. Given the success of Windows as a gaming operating system, I cannot see DirectX 12 being overtaken unless there are some very clear performance or feature benefits.