Dolphin Emulator Now Has DirectX 12 Support

DirectX 12 is a low-level API which has the potential to allow for console-like optimization across a wide range of PC hardware. While it’s still early days, there’s a great deal of excitement surrounding games with plans to use Microsoft’s revolutionary API. For example, Quantum Break is a DirectX 12 exclusive so it will be fascinating to see the performance numbers on various setups. Additionally, there are rumours circulating which suggests that Rise of the Tomb Raider might receive a DirectX 12 patch. On another note, the Vulkan API is an open source alternative supporting Windows 7, 8.1, 10, Linux, Android and more! Competition is vital to push technology forward, and it’s not beyond the realm of possibilities to see emulators adopt both APIs.

Dolphin is one of the most promising emulators and allows users to play Gamecube and Wii games! This is a fantastic project because it’s possible to experience iconic Nintendo games at high resolutions. On the original hardware, the output resolution is quite limiting and features a really murky look on modern Televisions. As always, it’s incredibly difficult to create a working emulator with low hardware demands. Currently, Dolphin works very well using the DirectX 11 but there’s some room for improvement.

The user “hdcmeta” on the Dolphin forums, has created a DirectX 12 backend which exhibits performance improvements of up to 50%:

“Generally, graphics-intensive games get a nice win, while (Gamecube CPU)-bound games (Zelda OOT from the ‘bonus disk’ is a good example) are the same – graphics wasn’t on the critical path there. At higher resolutions, graphics becomes more important, so the relative improvement can increase there. In general, CPU usage is now much lower for the same workload relative to DX11/OpenGL.”

Here we can see the percentile difference between DirectX 11, DirectX 12, and OpenGL:

 

This is astonishing and showcases the kind of optimization on low-mid range hardware. I’m interested to see if the performance increases scale in a similar fashion on higher end GPUs. Whatever the case, it seems DirectX 12 has a major benefit in emulators and this is going to be great news for anyone wanting to play older Nintendo games in glorious detail.

Here’s Why We Won’t See DirectX 12 in Action This Year

Thinking of upgrading your graphics card for the new Windows 10 and DirectX 12? Well, I think you should wait a bit longer. While everyone is hyped to see what devs can do with the latest DirectX version, we are forgetting the most important thing, which is the platform.

What this means is that DirectX 12 is locked to Windows 10 exclusively, which limits the platform and titles released for it. I mean sure, I am a PC gamer myself, but don’t expect everyone to switch to a PC or Xbox One just because there’s a new version of DirectX rolling out. Statistics also proved that most gamers are happy with their PlayStation 4 right now, so devs don’t really have a reason to switch their development and focus on DirectX 12, at least not until next year.

Also, another thing to take into account is that most people haven’t even upgraded to DirectX 12 compatible hardware, meaning that it will take some time until we see a lot of consumers ready for DirectX 12 games. But let’s see why it will take time to switch from the current version of DirectX to the new one, because I know most of you are wondering why it will take this long and maybe even argue that DirectX 11 was adopted faster.

When taking a look at DirectX 11, the main reason it was adopted so fast by consumers as well as developers is the next-gen platforms and native development tools. DirectX 11 got released in the same year as the Xbox One and PS4, while we also had Epic and other developers release Unreal Engine 4 with native DirectX 11 support. This meant that the tools and hardware have been out there for everyone, from big to small, to use and explore the new tech.

In contrast, DirectX 12 currently looks like the old DirectX 10. We see a new thing added, but there’s hardly enough support for it both for development as well as hardware to run it. This is why DirectX 10 failed to deliver such a hype in the gaming industry and why developers focused more on DirectX 9 back in the day. However, we won’t see the same fate bestowed on DirectX 12 as we saw for DirectX 10, but we will see the same slow movement towards the new tech.

Thank you GamingBolt for providing us with this information

AMD Reveals DirectX 12 Performance Stats in 3DMark Benchmark

Futuremark has released a new update for 3DMark that adds 3DMark API Overhead benchmark. It didn’t take long for AMD to get straight into showing its performance stats for the Radeon R9 290X graphics and the FX-8370 octa-core CPU scaling.

Futuremark has added draw calls on different APIs in its Overhead benchmark, having it support DirectX 11, DirectX 12 and Mantle on a single system. While AMD was keen on showing its performance on Mantle as well as the other APIs, it eventually followed Futuremark’s notes in not comparing GPUs from different vendors and stuck with only DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 performance statistics on the Radeon R9 290X and R7 260X.

DirectX 12 looks like it will also have a certain impact on multi-threaded CPU performance scaling, having the FX-8370 CPU managing to get DirecX 12 to scale with six cores compared to the limed two cores of the DirectX 11 API.

Though AMD’s statistics look very promising, these are still just benchmark results and real-world performance is usually something completely different. Even so, DirectX 12 and games powered by the latter API should be available by the end of the year.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information

Test Shows Over 100fps Difference Between DX12 and DX11

Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock, has had some interesting things to say about DirectX 12, and in a recent test he compared DX12 to its predecessor, DX11, on a high-end system with an unreleased GPU. The results saw DX12 outperform it previous iteration by over 100fps.

Wardell shared the following tweet:

Of course, Wardell’s followers had questions aplenty regarding his DX12 test, which he duly answered. He told one follower that he ran the test on a Crossfire system with an AMD processor, while he said to another, when quizzed on whether the system specifications compared to the Xbox One, Wardell replied that it was, “way beyond console stuff”.

Wardell was quick to share his thoughts on the benefits of DX12, telling another follower:

Microsoft, Stardock, and other developers are set to reveal more details on DirectX 12 at GDC next month.

Source: Dark Side of Gaming

Rumour: DirectX 12 Will Launch With Windows 9

Microsoft has been known to reserve new versions of DirectX for new operating systems in a bid to keep pushing its customers along its ideal upgrade path. Windows XP was capped at DX9, Windows Vista at DX10 (although it did get DX11 later on), Windows 7 at DX11, Windows 8 at DX11.1 and Windows 8.1 at DX11.2. Based on that pattern alone it isn’t surprising that DirectX 12 should arrive with the successor to Windows 8.1, Windows 9. According to Softpedia that is exactly what will happen. This matches Microsoft’s claims that DirectX 12 will be available in early 2015 because Windows 9 has also been touted for early-mid 2015.

Microsoft recently showed off the capabilities of DirectX 12 at a press event in Los Angeles where they demonstrated increases in performance with decreases in power consumption by as much as 50%, simply by moving from the DX11 to DX12 API. The focus of DX12 will be a low overhead design that allows for better performance, lower power consumption and greater overall programming efficiency.

Whether DX12 launching with Windows 9 means it will be a Windows 9 exclusive or not is another matter entirely, but given Microsoft’s past behaviour this does seem a likely outcome. What are your thoughts about the potential for DX12 to be a Windows 9 exclusive?

Source: Softpedia

Image courtesy of Microsoft

Testing AMD’s Mantle: Battlefield 4, Thief and PvZ Garden Warfare

Introduction


“Mantle is Game Changing” is AMD’s tagline for their newest low-overhead API. Mantle has been in the news constantly since AMD publicly released the concept on September 26th last year in their public live stream. The biggest claim to fame of this new low-overhead API is its use in EA’s Battlefield 4 blockbuster and the support it has from EA’s famous FrostBite 3 Engine. However, what is all the fuss about? How does Mantle actually perform in practice? Why should you even care about it? These are questions we are hoping to address today.

What’s Mantle all about?

So we’ve briefly introduced Mantle as a “thing” but at a basic technical level, what is Mantle? Mantle is an API, or application programming interface, that reduces the level of CPU workload required during gaming. Mantle does this by offloading tasks traditionally done by the CPU to the GPU and by simplifying the communication between the two. Compared to DirectX, Mantle uses less CPU capacity for communication between a video game and its graphics card resources, as such CPU bottlenecks can be reduced or removed by using the Mantle API. In short Mantle is an attempt to bring “console-like” optimisations to the desktop PC platform.

Who can make use of Mantle?

The AMD Mantle API is currently only supported on AMD GCN products: that’s 28nm HD 7000 or Rx 2xx series graphics cards and Kaveri APUs at the time of writing. For Mantle to work the game must be programmed in the Mantle API. This is the main reason why AMD is working so hard to push its API among game developers; it cannot go anywhere without developer adoption. The Mantle API is currently in the closed beta stage, but upon release it will be fully open source and made available to all game developers, hardware vendors and industry figures.

What games does Mantle support?

Mantle is supported by a range of top-tier game titles, as of writing these are:

  • Battlefield 4
  • Battlefield Hardline
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare
  • Civilization: Beyond Earth
  • Star Citizen
  • Thief
  • Sniper Elite III

Mantle is supported by the Nitrous, Frostbite 3 and CRYENGINE game engines meaning the potential is there to expand it to many more game titles in the future that use those engines. The only three games on that list that are currently available to buy right now, with Mantle support working right now, are Battlefield 4, Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare and Thief. So you guessed it….today we are putting those three to the test.

Full details of game support can be found on AMD’s regularly updated list right here.

Why is Mantle important?

Mantle is important because it is the first significant attempt by anyone in the PC industry to dramatically reduce overhead on a graphics API. Although not specifically confirmed by Microsoft, Mantle has been one of the influential driving forces behind DirectX 12. DirectX 12 has been announced by Microsoft but is still in development. DirectX 12 will be Microsoft’s successor to DirectX 11.x and will also be a low-overhead API like Mantle. AMD claims Mantle will be easily “portable” between DX11 and DX12 so anyone who develops for Mantle now will be able to easily move to the next DirectX when it is released. As such Mantle is not an attempt to undercut the DirectX 12 API, but an attempt to fast track the development and adoption of low-overhead APIs.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0oz-EonmBw[/youtube]

AMD Demonstrates Mantle Can Be Easily Ported To DirectX 12

This may not be news in the traditional sense of the term, but I know this will be news to a lot of people. The guys over at WCCFTech have been doing a bit of digging around in the Mantle White Papers and Mantle presentations AMD have produced and they stumbled across a section specifically focused on explaining the process of porting Mantle to DirectX 12. Many people have criticised AMD for Mantle, calling it a “backhand” move and accusing them of trying to undercut Microsoft’s DirectX for their own personal gain, and latest development goes a fair way to contradict that argument. AMD does not see Mantle as a competitor to DirectX 12 and this is to be expected because AMD has no reason to try and compete with Microsoft’s DirectX 12 as developers will always pick Microsoft’s offering due to a variety of reasons (because of Microsoft’s reputation, because of Microsoft’s more advanced knowledge of the Windows OS, because of Microsoft’s involvement in consoles, because siding with AMD would be bias against Nvidia and so on). Not only that AMD has a significant vested interest in the success of DirectX 12, if it does well AMD does well in the PC gaming space, if it does badly AMD loses too. AMD is showing that the Mantle API acts as a “powerful shortcut” to DirectX 12 as we wait for it to be finished and released by Microsoft. In this sense AMD is basically saying developers should switch to Mantle from DirectX 11 and use Mantle until DirectX 12 comes out and then they can easily port over their games to that. This enables game developers to get the benefits of a low-level API now, and begin complex porting processes now, so that when DirectX 12 comes out in the future all the hard work is done and they can just make a fairly easy port.

However, the flip side to the Mantle argument is obviously: why bother? As a developer it is surely easy to port from DirectX 11 to DirectX 12 than it is to port from DirectX 11 to Mantle to DirectX 12. AMD is still going to have a very hard time encouraging a mass uptake of Mantle by constructing it as a stepping stone route. Not to mention that many developers will be tentative to make the move to DirectX 12 (let alone Mantle then DirectX 12) on the basis that no one wants to be an early adopter of a new API when it is buggy, has problems and is in its infancy In fact this is probably one of AMD’s assumptions that if they can get everyone to use Mantle as a “stepping stone”, by the time DirectX 12 comes out many game developers will not want to make another API migration so may delay it and end up staying on Mantle for a lot longer than expected, thus allowing AMD to pedestal the achievements of the Mantle API.

What are your opinions on the relationship between AMD’s Mantle and Microsoft’s DirectX 12?

Source: AMD #1 #2, Via: WCCFTech

Image courtesy of AMD

War Thunder 1.37 Update Add’s News Planes, Maps & DX11 Support

Gaijin Entertainment have announced the release of update 1.37 for their military MMO game War Thunder. The update introduces a new progression system, numerous new planes and combat maps, DirectX 11 support and many other improvements. This major update introduces more than 20 new aircrafts, including the long-awaited Ki-84 Japanese fighter and German attack plane Hs.129B-3, featuring the enormous 75-mm cannon. With the release of update 1.37, more than 300 historically accurate aircrafts are now available in War Thunder!

8 new maps provide diverse combat scenarios, and all of the game locations got a serious visual overhaul thanks to updated render with DirectX 11 support! With the new progression system War Thunder pilots can chose the aircraft they want to unlock next, and every battle on any plane of this nation will bring this moment closer. This allows players to progress more quickly through the branch of the research tree they prefer. At the same time, both new and existing players will keep their achievements, earned modifications and previously purchased planes.

With the upcoming addition of Ground Forces Expansion, every player will be researching tanks and other vehicles from the beginning, regardless of previous experience with War Thunder.

The 1.37 update comes before the start of the second wave of the Closed Beta for the Ground Forces Expansion. Players who have already purchased the Collector’s Advanced Packs will gain immediate access to this round of Closed Beta. Once the Open Beta begins, these rare collector packs and their exclusive content will not be available ever again.

Thank you WarThunder for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of WarThunder.

Sniper Elite 3 To Support AMD Mantle

Battlefield 4 was the first game announced to support AMD’s Mantle, but a patch has not yet been released to activate it. However, Rebellion Games has just announced that it also supports AMD’s Mantle technology and it will be implemented in its in-house game engine, Asura, meaning that Sniper Elite 3 will also make use of the Mantle API as well.

“It supports more platforms than almost any other engine we can think of and has important cutting edge features, including: tessellation, DirectX® 11 Compute Shaders, AMD Eyefinity technology, multi-GPU support and more”, says Rebellion’s CTO and Co-founder, Chris Kingsley. “Our first Mantle supported title will of course be our flagship 2014 game, Sniper Elite 3. And although we can’t talk about them right now we can’t wait to reveal even more titles with Mantle support in the next year.”

AMD is moving forward but with caution in its course to get game developers on board for its Mantle technology. While the adoption rate is fairly slow, having only two developers adopt it so far, it is still growing in numbers. Mantle is said that will be incorporated in 12 upcoming Frostbite powered games, one of them being Sniper Elite, which is a very popular game.

Thank you Chip Loco for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Chip Loco