Ashes of the Singularity is a futuristic real-time strategy game offering frenetic contests on a large-scale. The huge amount of units scattered across a number of varied environments creates an enthralling experience built around complex strategic decisions. Throughout the game, you will explore unique planets and engage in enthralling air battles. This bitter war revolves around an invaluable resource known as Turinium between the human race and masterful artificial intelligence. If you’re into the RTS genre, Ashes of the Singularity should provide hours of entertainment. While the game itself is worthy of widespread media attention, the engine’s support for DirectX 12 and asynchronous compute has become a hot topic among hardware enthusiasts.
DirectX 12 is a low-level API with reduced CPU overheads and has the potential to revolutionise the way games are optimised for numerous hardware configurations. In contrast to this, DirectX 11 isn’t that efficient and many mainstream titles suffered from poor scaling which didn’t properly utilise the potential of current graphics technology. On another note, DirectX 12 allows users to pair GPUs from competing vendors and utilise multi graphics solutions without relying on driver profiles. It’s theoretically possible to achieve widespread optimization and leverage extra performance using the latest version of DirectX 12.
Of course, Vulkan is another alternative which works on various operating systems and adopts an open-source ideology. Although, the focus will likely remain on DirectX 12 for the foreseeable future unless there’s a sudden reluctance from users to upgrade to Windows 10. Even though the adoption rate is impressive, there’s a large number of PC gamers currently using Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. Therefore, it seems prudent for developers to continue with DirectX 11 and offer a DirectX 12 render as an optional extra. Arguably, the real gains from DirectX 12 will occur when its predecessor is disregarded completely. This will probably take a considerable amount of time which suggests the first DirectX 12 games might have reduced performance benefits compared to later titles.
Asynchronous compute allows graphics cards to simultaneously calculate multiple workloads and reach extra performance figures. AMD’s GCN architecture has extensive support for this technology. In contrast to this, there’s a heated debate questioning if NVIDIA products can even utilise asynchronous compute in an effective manner. Technically, AMD GCN graphics cards contain 2-8 asynchronous compute cores with 8 queues per core which varies on the model to provide single cycle latencies. Maxwell revolves around two pipelines, one designed for high-priority workloads and another with 31 queues. Most importantly, NVIDIA cards can only “switch contexts at draw call boundaries”. This means the switching process is slower and gives AMD and a major advantage. NVIDIA has dismissed the early performance numbers from Ashes of the Singularity due to its current development phase. Finally, the game’s release has exited the beta stage which allows us to determine the performance numbers after optimizations were completed.
The Hitman franchise quickly became a firm favourite with stealth aficionados due to the tense takedowns and open world environments. Even though Hitman Absolution felt a little out-of-place, the game’s core mechanics were solid and provided an excellent experience. Its sequel was originally intended to be a standard full price release but this was quickly changed to suit an episodic business model. This sudden alteration raised concerns about the game’s content and value proposition. However, the reception for the first episode was overwhelmingly positive and looks like it helped improve the overall pacing.
Today, the latest Hitman patch has been released which includes a number of performance enhancements using the DirectX 12 render. This is vital because the DirectX 12 option created some performance issues on numerous setups. There’s also new challenges and a host of other content in the 1.03 update. Here is the changelog in full:
General game improvements
The Vampire Magician Challenge Pack : 10 new challenges that were inspired by how our community have been playing the game.
Continued improvements to load times: The improvements will be most notable when loading The Showstopper mission in Paris and we’re already working on improving all loading times even more.
Improved responsiveness for in-game menus and image loading: We’ve implemented an image caching system that will improve responsiveness and loading times for all images in the game menu.
Fixed issues with scoring: Primarily, this fixes an issue that resulted in many players earning a “0 second” time bonus and an incorrect score of 210,000. A leaderboard reset will be implemented at a later date.
Continued improvements to connectivity: Server stability improvements.
Prompts for dumping a body now appear, regardless of the positioning of the game camera, both in Showstopper and Final Test missions.
47 no longer drops a body immediately after starting to drag it.
Unnoticed kills or subdue will no longer trigger a brief “compromised” state. This previously caused players to fail the ‘never spotted’ reward.
The ‘visibly armed’ warning is now always shown when 47 is carrying a large weapon on his back.
The light rig (Showstopper) and life raft (Freeform Training) can now be reliably dropped using explosives.
Opportunities in Showstopper and Final Test have been made more consistent.
Fixed an issue where the first few seconds of the game would appear to run at double speed.
Novikov will no longer get stuck in an infinite loop during the Rare Scoop opportunity. This would happen if the player gets Max Decker to call Novikov whilst he is on his way to the interview.
Novikov will no longer talk to Dalia on the phone when she has already been eliminated.
Fixed a rare issue that made the “In Seine” challenge impossible to complete. This would happen when the Private Meeting opportunity overlapped with Novikov on stage at the Fashion Show.
Fixed an issue where the Showstopper mission could not be completed if the player calls Dalia during the Fireworks show whilst disguised as Helmut Kruger.
Fixed various crash issues that could occur when doing the following: loading a new stage in Escalation Contracts, loading the game or after exploding a gas cylinder.
Fixed a crash that occurred when shooting at the target in Freeform training during the “Searching” state.
Fixed many other crash issues that were occurring during gameplay.
Added an option to the game launcher that allows players to override the ‘default memory safeguards’ and allow them to use any available resolution and graphic quality settings.
Increased resolution cap for players with 3gb graphics cards from 1920×1200 to 2560×1600.
DX12 shader and pipeline cache now included in all Steam builds.
Fixed a graphical issue with transparent windows on DX12.
Improved vertex colours on DX12.
Briefings for Featured Contracts can now be viewed at the planning stage.
The ‘Contract Assassin’ achievement can now be completed.
The mouse cursor is now always visible on the ‘Load Game’ menu.
Fixed an issue where the game would get stuck at 12% loading between the Prologue missions.
Fixed a rare issue where players were asked to (re)download the Showstopper mission.
Fixed a rare issue where the game was switching between controller and keyboard controls, due to detecting specific hardware as a ‘game controller’.
While Square Enix has not yet confirmed that its forthcoming JRPG epic Final Fantasy XV will arrive on PC, it seems that, if it does, it will be a “higher spec” version running on DirectX 12. The current version of the game, due out for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 later this year, was built using DirectX 11 “generation tech.”
“The DX11 generation tech used for #FFXV is for console only,” a Tweet from the official Final Fantasy XV Twitter account reads. “Once FFXV is out on console we may look at a higher spec version for PC.”
The DX11 generation tech used for #FFXV is for console only. Once FFXV is out on console we may look at a higher spec version for PC
Whether this “higher spec” PC version of the game actually see the light of day is yet to be decided, though, despite admissions from Square Enix that it is “aware of the big call for a PC version.”
“Unfortunately we weren’t able to do simultaneous development on a PC and console version for XV,” FFXV Director Hajime Tabata told Engadget. “We had to focus on the console version and our goal was to maximize, optimize everything for the HD consoles. Once that’s done, then we will definitely take a good, hard look at PC and what we need to do, and consider all our options. But right now we aren’t decided, we’re still considering a lot of things.”
The free Platinum Demo of Final Fantasy XV is available for download on PS4 and Xbox One now.
Upcoming action-adventure third-person shooter game Quantum Break will be released for Xbox One consoles and Microsoft Windows on April 5, and I honestly can’t wait to get my hands on it. These days, certain outlets have the privilege of playing pretty much any AAA game before its official release, and fortunately for us, they often share their gameplay experiences via YouTube or other video sharing websites. The gameplay videos of Quantum Break that we’ve seen so far certainly look impressive, not just from a graphics point of view but also gameplay-wise. However, it looks like the game will actually look even better on its release day as it is about to receive a major patch sometime this week.
The patch will focus mainly on improving the title’s graphics, and since this is going to be an exclusive DirectX 12 experience, we can definitely expect great things. Even though the company behind Quantum Break has stated that it will not be releasing any DLC for it, the developers already have some ideas on how to expand the universe and its storyline. Obviously, all of this is going to depend on how the game will be received. Below you will find a gameplay video of Quantum Break released by Angry Centaur Gaming. The announcement regarding the upcoming graphics patch was made at the 4:18 mark.
2016 may well go down as the year VR finally takes off for real. Sony and Microsoft have both been making progress towards VR and augmented reality while Oculus and HTC are set to launch the Rift and Vive respectively. Given the efforts and lengths AMD has gone to push VR, it should come to no surprise that a report has revealed that the company has a massive 83% lead in providing the hardware for VR capable systems.
Hardware wise, it is not surprising to see the lead over Nvidia. While PC hardware is a large segment of the VR market, only higher end systems are capable of producing the frames necessary for VR at 90fps and enough resolution for both eyes. Because of this, the PS4 is a viable candidate for VR adoption and with the APU inside it being AMD, Nvidia stands no chance in terms of sheer hardware market share for VR.
As noted many times during the Capsaicin event, AMD has been working with many developers in both gaming and other forms of media with LiquidVR and GPUOpen. AMD has also been on the forefront with developments like VR cafes and partnering with Oculus and HTC to ensure that the Rift and Vive work seamlessly with Radeon. There is even a Radeon VR Ready Premium program to ensure consumers are informed.
With the VR market still in it’s growing stages, AMD has seen an opportunity to get in before it’s competitors have a chance and secure a bastion of developer support and integration. Considering the price of VR capable hardware, AMD stands a good chance to reap a windfall when VR takes off. This can only bode well for AMD as for once they are ahead and hopefully will be able to leverage their position to help the rest of their business grow.
Stardock has revealed that it is developing a unique software solution that will allow GPUs from different vendors to be used in unison. While DirectX 12 already boasts such support – though the only game that supports it as yet is Stardock’s own Ashes of the Singularity – Stardock CEO Brad Wardell says that his will open this option up to everyone.
“One of the biggest problems with games is that a new video card comes out from AMD and Nvidia, and they’re like [expensive], and you have to make a call,” Wardell told Venturebeat. “I like my video card. I can play most games on it, and I don’t want to spend $800 on some new video card. But imagine, instead, hey, they’re having a sale [using my GTX 760 as an example]. Hey, they’re having a sale on an AMD 290 for $75. Wouldn’t it be cool to put this into your computer and double your performance. You keep this in there [the 760]. You put this in there [the 290], and your games are twice as fast without doing anything else.”
Wardell says that his company has been working with NVIDIA and AMD on the solution for the past year and that, while the two video card giants aren’t necessarily happy at the idea of their hardware being combined with that of their competitors, they certainly approve of anything that mean more people will buy their products.
“They don’t love that part [mixing competing cards in one PC], but [what they do love] is the idea that people will buy more cards,” Wardell added. “It’s a major friction where someone says, ‘I have a card that works. I’m not going to spend $800.’ They don’t get the sale. But you’re going to get the same effect by adding [an] $80 video card [to your existing setup].”
More news on Stardock’s new multi-GPU software is expected to be revealed by Microsoft at GDC 2016 this week.
Why is this a big deal you may ask? The problem people will have with this is that the game is a single player game, requiring an online connection means that should your internet drop out or you want to play on the go you won’t be able to. The reason given by Microsoft is that you will require a high-speed internet connection to enjoy the cutscenes in the game, which is considered story heavy.
It was recently revealed that the Xbox One version of the game will be 44.09GB in size, a whole 8GB more than the 36.18GB. It now seems that the size difference is because Xbox one will be downloading the video content as well, requiring only PC gamers to have a constant online connection. With the Xbox One video being limited to 1080p video files, a mere shade of the 4K content the PC will enjoy, some people will argue that for a single player game, downloading the video at a lesser quality may be worth saving the hassle of an always online connection.
First a bad release for Gears Of War and now the news that always online single player games are Microsoft’s hope for Windows 10 games, are you likely to pick up the game and if so do you think that Microsoft has done the right thing?
Microsoft has been eager to show off new screenshots from Rise of the Tomb Raider, but what’s interesting is that these screenshots were not from the Windows 10 version of the game, but the Xbox One version. To make matters even more interesting, Microsoft has now confirmed that what they revealed was the DX12 version of the game running on the Xbox One.
The demo was shown at the Xbox Showcase Media Event, and Rise of the Tomb Raider was playable at the Xbox Spring Showcase while running in DirectX 12. This is great news for gamers, as more DX12 software is working its way to market, but adds further fuel to the fire that a DirectX 12 patch will be coming to the PC in the near future. Nothing has been confirmed officially, but you can be certain that it’s coming.
“DirectX 12 Showcase: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Ashes of the Singularity, King of Wushu – Square Enix, Snail, and Stardock showcased their latest DirectX 12 enhancements for Rise of the Tomb Raider, King of Wushu, and Ashes of the Singularity on Origin PCs, iBUYPOWER Revolt 2, and Maingear PCs. Ashes of the Singularity is taking advantage the DirectX 12 multi-adapter technology, allowing PCs to use multiple GPUs, even from different manufacturers. Rise of the Tomb Raider was playable for the first time at the Xbox Spring Showcase running DirectX 12.” said Microsoft.
What games are you hoping to play in DirectX 12 on PC and even on Xbox One? Are you hoping they get updated to support the new API or are you more interested in upcoming releases? Let us know in the comments section below.
Microsoft has long been keen on repairing what can only be described as a damaged relationship with the PC gaming community. After a slew of initial releases, Microsoft’s game for Windows Live has soured many experiences of games the company is directly involved, made worse by the lack of features (and sometimes playability at all) when the service was taken down. Windows 10 looks to save them from this past but the initial signs all point to trouble.
One of the key selling points of Windows 10 is DirectX12, a new system designed to make games run not only faster but smoother with all the benefits of the latest generation of software. With “apps” being downloaded through the Windows 10 App store, sometimes with exclusive releases of big games like Gears Of Wars: Ultimate Edition, the limitations on these releases suddenly becomes frightening for PC gamers.
According to recent reports from Guru3D, when testing the latest Ashes of the Singularity beta disabling the vsync setting wouldn’t actually disable the feature. This is because of the technology used to display games in Windows 10, the windows display driver model 2.0.
You may not notice the problem though as programs downloaded from the store don’t expose an executable file, something that a lot of software uses to help mold their experience. Ever use Steam’s big picture mode or Fraps? They both use executable files from your programs to run, meaning using them with Windows 10 games may be more difficult than expected.
Microsoft has said how much they want to bring PC gamers back to trusting their development and platforms. With items like this happening and the quiet (and disastrous) release of Gears Of War Ultimate Edition on their store, they may be harming rather than helping their reputation with the gaming community.
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.
DirectX 11 has been the dominant API for a significant amount of time and doesn’t really allow for effective scaling across a wide range of hardware configurations. Thankfully, DirectX 12 is a major step in the right direction and could revolutionize the way game engines communicate with hardware. Theoretically, the new API should reduce CPU overheads and result in better optimization, although this is down to the developers. DirectX 12 isn’t the only low-level API on offer and there’s a great open source alternative, codenamed Vulkan which supports Windows 7, 8.1, 10, Android and Linux!
This is going to be an enticing proposition for anyone who dislikes Windows 10, and it could help with optimization on SteamOS. AMD originally submitted the XGL proposal from their work on Mantle and this was accepted by the OpenGL Next working group. As a company, AMD’s open source ethos ties in extremely well with Vulkan and they are going to release a beta driver with Vulkan functionality.
Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Radeon Technologies Group, AMD said:
“The release of the Vulkan 1.0 specification is a huge step forward for developers. The Vulkan API, which was derived from Mantle, will bring the benefits of low-overhead high-performance Graphics API to the benefit of cross-platform and cross-vendor targeted applications,“
“The promotion of open and scalable technologies continues to be the focus at AMD, as a pioneer in the low-overhead API space. As a member of the Khronos Group, AMD is proud to collaborate with hardware and software industry leaders to develop the Vulkan API to ignite the next evolution in PC game development.”
I cannot wait to see Vulkan’s impact compared to other APIs and it’s quite plausible to see major performance benefits. However, I think it will be challenging to encourage developers to adopt Vulkan because the majority of users seems to be excited for DirectX 12 and prepared to upgrade to Windows 10 despite many concerns regarding privacy.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is a spectacular adventure game which beautifully honours the series’ roots while adding a modern twist. The motion capture showcasing Lara’s subtle emotional changes is a sight to behold and almost defies belief. Originally, the game launched as an Xbox One exclusive, and caused a great deal of animosity from fans. This is because the Tomb Raider franchise traditionally released on various platforms including the PlayStation One, SEGA Saturn and PC. The original reboot featured a fantastic PC version with superb optimization and an ample supply of visual settings. The developer responsible for this impeccable work is Nixxes Software and went onto product Rise of the Tomb Raider for the PC platform.
As you might expect given Nixxes’ reputation, the game is absolutely stunning, supporting various aspect ratios, advanced lighting effects, HBAO+, SMAA and more! This level of graphical fidelity does require a good PC with NVIDIA recommending a GTX 970 or above for the optimal 1920×1080 experience. At this time, the engine is based on the DirectX 11 API and does a good job of scaling across hardware. However, a recent finding by Reddit member ‘-Olek‘, suggests the latest low-level API, DirectX 12 will be implemented into the game fairly soon. To acquire the latest patch with DirectX 12 functionality, all you have to do is replace the game’s executable with the original .exe from the retail version. Steam users can perform this action by selecting the Beta update.
Please note, the DirectX 12 patch does not work at this time, but it shouldn’t be too far off as there’s an option for it in the revised menu. Additionally, it looks like the developer will add TXAA support which is another great inclusion. It will be fascinating to see the performance benefits moving from DirectX 11 to DirectX 12 especially when you consider how demanding the game is. This could be the first indication we have of the benefits of DirectX 12 in real world scenarios.
Elder Scrolls Online is a great MMORPG, mixing together many of the iconic landscapes and the rich lore that we’ve come to know and from the many entries in the Elder Scrolls gaming series, but with the ability to share your experiences and battles with hundreds of gamers at once, take on raid bosses and so much more. The only issue with MMORPG’s is that the games can often slow down quite a lot when there’s a huge amount of on-screen action, and while Elder Scrolls Online does a great job of keeping the pace going quite well, even this game suffers from slowdown when there’s a lot of players and enemies on-screen.
There’s no doubt that it’s already one of the best looking MMORPG’s out there, so the fact it keeps up the pace as well as it does it pretty darn impressive. However, the developers at Zenimax Online Studios know it can be even better, which is why they’re now working on upgrading the game’s engine to DirectX 12. during their recent live stream, they revealed that there’s no ETA for this update, but that they are working on it, and with DX12 being able to handle a greatly increased number of draw calls, we can no doubt expect big performance boosts in the future.
“Yes, we are planning on a DX12 upgrade and expect that this will give us a number of graphics performance improvements. We cannot provide an ETA at this time, but it is something we’re working towards.”
They’re also working on improving fog/limited draw distance issues but revealed that it’s not as high a priority as the DX12 improvements. Console gamers aren’t going to lose out either, as they said they’ll be working with the recently unlocked core on the PlayStation 4 to improve performance and while nothing was said, the DX12 upgrade will likely bring some improvements for the Xbox One release of the game too.
Fable Legends is an upcoming free-to-play cooperative action RPG developed by Lionhead Studios. This is a major departure from the traditional Fable formula which focuses on providing an enthralling single player experience via humorous characters and a thrilling story. Sadly, the series has progressively got worse and I really didn’t care for Fable III at all. This is a crying shame because Fable: The Lost Chapters is so charming and one of my favourite RPGs of all time. While Fable Legends is an interesting concept, many users simply want to see a brand new Fable game based on a standard business model. The advent of microtransactions makes the core gaming demographic quite concerned about a game’s value and ability to continue without having to grind for hours.
Currently, Fable Legends is accessible to a small number of users in the closed beta. I am one of the lucky ones and able to play the game, but an embargo agreement means I cannot publicly discuss it. As a Windows 10 exclusive, Fable Legends is opting for a DirectX 12 engine and offers significant performance gains compared to the older DirectX 11 API. Lionhead Studios’ director, Stuart Whyte said in a recent interview with BidnessETC that the performance enhancements on PC could be as much as 40%. This obviously depends on the hardware in question and I’d like to see a more detailed analysis of which configurations showcase the biggest gains.
Also, Whyte went onto discuss the effect on DirectX 12 on the Xbox One and said advanced features including asynchronous compute and efficient multi-threaded rendering would help “push the visual bar higher than would otherwise be possible.” Please note, this doesn’t mean DirectX 12 will be able to leverage extra frames-per-second, unlike the implementation on PC. Perhaps, it will help to improve texture quality or allow for a higher rendering resolution.
The first public beta of Stardock’s real-time sci-fi strategy game, Ashes of the Singularity, has been released. Ashes of the Singularity is the first game to support DirectX 12 natively, powered by the Nitrous engine, which is said to be able to handle busy screens with interactive and visual complexity.
“In Ashes of the Singularity, gamers aren’t fighting a battle, they’re fighting a war,” Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock, said. “Players command thousands of units across a vast battlefield while building up their economic and technological might.”
“Over the past few months we’ve worked closely with AMD and NVIDIA to fully leverage their hardware,” he added. “Our alpha testers have reported substantial performance gains, which is allowing us to begin lowering the hardware requirements.”
According to the announcement of the public beta on the official website, the game boasts:
The first native DirectX 12 game allowing each CPU core to command the player’s GPU simultaneously, which allows for an order of magnitude more rendered units to be on screen at the same time than previous RTS games.
A multi-core real-time strategy AI that allows for excellent single player RTS gaming.
A new native 64-bit 3D engine called Nitrous that makes full use of the features of DirectX 11 and DirectX 12, allowing for thousands of light sources on screen simultaneously.
A new type of unit group organization known as a “meta” unit that makes it easy for players to manage potentially tens of thousands of units across a world.
Advanced Nitrous 3D engine allows players to zoom out on the map without having to transform the map into a simplified view of the battlefield.
“Our goal with Ashes is to help introduce a new generation of gamers to real-time strategy games,” Wardell said. “We want to make a game where players can invite their friends in and be up and playing relatively quickly without a lengthy explanation about how to play.”
The Ashes of the Singularity public beta is available now from Steam and GOG.
3DMark is an essential tool in the technology industry and predominately used to differentiate between various graphics cards. More specifically, FireStrike, FireStrike Extreme and FireStrike Ultra determines the GPU’s performance at different resolutions and provides an accurate score which many leading hardware websites depend on. That’s not to say it’s just for professional use though, as some enthusiasts like to bench hardware and see the enhancements in driver revisions as well as small core clock adjustments. DirectX 11 is a functional API but doesn’t offer anywhere near the optimizations and low overheads in DirectX 12. As a result, DirectX 12 is often perceived as a revolutionary step which encourages multi-GPU configurations and utilizes each person’s setup in a more effective manner.
The latest big update to 3DMark revolves around these major changes and has been kept under wraps for some time. However, 3DMark’s product manager, Pasi Virtanen showcased the current working build of 3DMark using DirectX 12 during a presentation. According to Pasi Virtanen, the upcoming edition will feature two GPU tests, including the “Time Spy” benchmark and a CPU test. Apparently, this will provide some of the most complex benchmarking tools ever devised and incorporate leading DirectX 12 attributes in the testing procedure.
Currently, there’s no firm release date as the software suite is being worked on. Although, early reports suggest it will probably launch sometime in 2016. I cannot wait to see if DirectX 12 lives up to its potential and how developers manage to cope with the new API.
DirectX 12, a low-overhead API which has the potential to revolutionize PC gaming and properly utilize consumer’s graphical hardware. On the PC, DirectX 11 often resulted in inconsistent and sub-par frame-rates which required fairly high-end equipment to run on maximum settings. In theory, DirectX 12 could make this a thing of the past and offer significant boosts compared to DirectX 11. As a result, some people have suggested this could help close the gap between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Technically, the Xbox One is inferior and struggled to reach 1080p in a number of leading games from Watch Dogs to The Witcher 3. Only recently, the Battlefront Beta supported a maximum resolution of 720p compared to 900p on the PlayStation 4. Alan Kertz from DICE has suggested this won’t be changing anytime soon and said:
No amount of consumer trust can change that it's just an inferior horse in the horsepower category.
While DirectX 12 could bring some gains, they will be relatively small and Microsoft cannot hide from the fact that they opted for weaker hardware. The PlayStation 4 is far from a graphical powerhouse, but it already showing its technical dominance. This doesn’t mean it’s a better console, but third-party games should run better. Phil Spencer is trying to restore customer confidence in the Xbox One but DirectX 12 isn’t the miracle some people are hoping for.
AMD has announced the release of its new Catalyst beta driver (15.9) which optimises its graphics cards for the beta release of Star Wars: Battlefront and Fable Legends’ DirectX 12 Benchmark, suggesting that the latter is set for release very soon.
The Catalyst 15.9 Beta driver’s changelog is as follows:
Highlights of AMD Catalyst 15.9 Beta Windows Driver
Performance Optimizations -Star Wars: Battlefront Beta ***8208; Performance and quality optimizations Fable Legends : Includes the latest DirectX 12 optimizations for the Fable Legends: Benchmark.
Resolved Issues: -Diablo 3 crashes in the Act 2 Desolate Sands area of the game -The AMD Catalyst Control Center ‘update’ option fails to download the latest driver -Dragon Age: Inquisition may crash if launched in Mantle mode -The DirectX® Diagnostic tool does not report DirectX® 12 available on supported products -World of Warships may crash on some AMD Radeon HD5000 and HD6000 series products -Assassin’s Creed® Unity may experience minor frame stutter when -AMD CrossFire mode is enabled -Anti Aliasing settings not being retained after changes are applied -Some BENQ 144hz Freesync monitors may lose the signal while uninstalling the driver -DiRT Rally crashes during gameplay and benchmarking when launched in DirectX® 11 mode on some BENQ 144HZ Freesync monitors
Known Issues: -GTA V crashes on some AMD Radeon R9 390X GPU’s -Star Wars: Battlefront Bata ***8208; Flickering may be experience if AMD Crossfire is enabled -Corruption may occur in DiRT Rally with CMAA enabled with Portrait SLS and AMD CrossFire mode enabled -A black screen may be encountered on bootup on Windows 10 systems. The system will ultimately continue to the Windows login screen. -Intermittent playback issues with Cyberlink PoweDVD when connecting to a 3D display with an HDMI cable -A TDR error may be experienced while toggling between minimized and maximized mode while viewing 4K Youtube content -Elite: Dangerous ***8208; poor performance may be experienced in SuperCruise mode -Final Fantasy XIV ***8208; Heavensward may crash when run in DirectX 11® mode and borderless window mode -Some applications may fail to launch on some Mobility platforms when launched in High Performance mode -Windows 10 driver installation may halt on some systems with an AMD 990FX chipset and AMD CrossFire enabled -Mad Max ***8208; Color corruption is observed when Alt+Ctrl+Del is pressed followed by the Escape key
AMD’s Catalyst 15.9 beta driver can be downloaded here.
Valve developer Dan Ginsburg spoke at length regarding the two upcoming APIs, DirectX 12 and Vulkan, during this year’s SIGGRAPH event. While both are much anticipated, offering low-level access to a PC’s GPU and CPU, Ginsburg claims that there is no reason to create a DX12 back-end for games, and that Vulkan is the superior API.
“Unless you are aggressive enough to be shipping a DX12 game this year, I would argue that there is really not much reason to ever create a DX12 back end for your game. And the reason for that is that Vulkan will cover you on Windows 10 on the same class of hardware and so much more from all these other platforms and IHVs that we’ve heard from. Metal is single platform, single vendor, and Vulkan… we are gonna have support for not only Windows 10 but Windows 7, Windows 8 and Linux.”
It must be noted that Ginsburg is working on the Khonos Group’s Vulkan API, and so may have a vested interest in its success. Conversely, he is also in a fine position to extol the virtues of Vulkan, having worked so closely on it.
Possibly, the greatest benefit in Windows 10 is the highly-optimized DirectX 12 API. Unfortunately, very few games take advantage of DirectX 12 functionality and it’s unknown if current DirectX 11 titles will be updated. Despite this, future games should scale much better across various configurations on the newest API and has been widely implemented as it’s been in the hands of developers for some time. In an interview with TweakTown, AMD’s Chief Gaming Scientist, Richard Huddy, has confirmed Deus Ex: Mankind Divided would launch with DirectX 12 support.
Furthermore, AMD’s TressFX Hair 3.0 technology will be implemented and the options menu features an integrated benchmark. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how AMD and NVIDIA GPUs compare with a AAA game designed around DirectX 12. There has been a great deal of controversy regarding Asynchronous Shaders which supposedly favour AMD. Of course, Deus EX: Human Divided is an AMD-sponsored game in a similar vein to its predecessor. In theory, this means the game should be optimized better on AMD hardware.
Although, on launch this could become complicated as it’s difficult to gauge if DirectX 12 or AMD’s involvement in the game will be the major determining factor. Personally, I’m just pleased to see DirectX 12 support out-of-the-box and cannot wait to see how various cards perform.
Are you looking forward to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided?
Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information.
Oxide Games, developer of the highly-anticipated Ashes of the Singularity, has revealed that NVIDIA is working on a driver to fully implement DirectX 12’s Async Compute. According to Oxide developer Kollock, in a post on overclock.net, NVIDIA is in the process of refining its Async Compute driver, with the help of Oxide.
“We actually just chatted with Nvidia about Async Compute, indeed the driver hasn’t fully implemented it yet, but it appeared like it was. We are working closely with them as they fully implement Async Compute. We’ll keep everyone posted as we learn more.”
It seems as though NVIDIA will be implementing a combination of software and hardware to handle Async Compute, rather than by hardware alone.
“The Asynchronous Warp Schedulers are in the hardware. Each SMM (which is a shader engine in GCN terms) holds four AWSs. Unlike GCN, the scheduling aspect is handled in software for Maxwell 2. In the driver there’s a Grid Management Queue which holds pending tasks and assigns the pending tasks to another piece of software which is the work distributor. The work distributor then assigns the tasks to available Asynchronous Warp Schedulers. It’s quite a few different “parts” working together. A software and a hardware component if you will.
With GCN the developer sends work to a particular queue (Graphic/Compute/Copy) and the driver just sends it to the Asynchronous Compute Engine (for Async compute) or Graphic Command Processor (Graphic tasks but can also handle compute), DMA Engines (Copy). The queues, for pending Async work, are held within the ACEs (8 deep each)… and ACEs handle assigning Async tasks to available compute units.
Maxwell 2: Queues in Software, work distributor in software (context switching), Asynchronous Warps in hardware, DMA Engines in hardware, CUDA cores in hardware. GCN: Queues/Work distributor/Asynchronous Compute engines (ACEs/Graphic Command Processor) in hardware, Copy (DMA Engines) in hardware, CUs in hardware.”
Despite its own problems implementing DirectX 12, AMD already has a headstart when it comes to Async Compute. Now it seems that NVIDIA is hoping to close the gap very soon.
Intel showcased the benefits of the Vulkan API during SIGGRAPH 2015 and exemplified its viability as a mainstream alternative to OpenGL. The Stardust graphics demonstration was conducted on an Intel PC with a fairly modest quad-core processor to gauge typical performance gains. The OpenGL benchmarks signified a complete lack of multi-threaded optimization and only fully utilized 1 core. The other 3 cores were virtually dormant and showed how OpenGL heavily relies on single threaded performance. Subsequently, this resulted with a final benchmark figure of 25fps.
In direct contrast to this, the Vulkan API provided a more consistent workload and spread the processing power across 4 cores. This improved the framerate by almost 50% and hovered around 50fps. Additionally, the CPU power consumption was exponentially reduced. To work out the exact figure, the benchmark featured an fps lock and compared each API at identical performance numbers. Unbelievably, Vulkan’s CPU power demands hit a maximum wattage at almost half the figure of OpenGL.
Other benefits surrounding Vulkan include an open ethos allowing it to run to any operating system such as Ubuntu, SteamOS, Windows XP and Android. Additionally, the API is designed to work across a wide array of devices from mobiles to gaming PCs. This makes it extremely flexible and should scale quite well across various software packages. Also, the API is backed by industry behemoths and has a bright future ahead.
At this time, Vulkan is rather impressive and could be the future API of direct 3D graphics. I highly recommend checking out the video footage below which shows Vulkan in all its glory.
AMD has released the Catalyst 15.8 driver which includes a number of hotfixes and enhanced performance in Batman: Arkham Knight and Ashes of the Singularity. Here is the full list of optimizations:
Highlights of AMD Catalyst 15.8 Beta Windows Driver
This driver provides support for the Oculus 0.7 SDK on Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. More information on the Oculus 0.7 SDK can be found at the following link on the Oculus Developer site:
Batman: Arkham Knight – Performance and quality/stability updates
Ashes of the Singularity – Performance optimizations for DirectX® 12
 Adobe® Lightroom may crash if GPU rendering is enabled
 Mouse cursor coordinates may be swapped on some 3×1 Eyefinity configurations
 The Witcher® 3: Wild Hunt – Corruption may be observed when AA is enabled in AMD CrossFire mode
 The Firefox browser may crash while opening multiple tabs (2 or more)
 Anti Aliasing settings are not retained after Applying in the AMD Catalyst Control Center
 System hangs when launching Call of Duty® – Modern Warfare 3 or Diablo III
 Metal Gear Solid® : Ground Zero may crash when launched
 Call Of Duty®: Black Ops III – texture corruption observed when launched in DirectX® 11 mode
 Sword Coast Legends – FRTC settings are not activated in the game
 Project CARS may experience corruption when AA is set to D2SM
 A green screen may be observed on some “Llano”/”Ontario” APU’s when playing video under Windows 10
 Watch Dogs may experience flickering / corruption after changing game resolution
 AMD HDMI® Audio is disabled after driver installation
 F1 2015 may experience flickering during gameplay or in game benchmarking
 Call of Duty® – Advanced Warfare may freeze randomly when run in Quad CrossFire mode
 Text corruption observed when using Windows 10 Mapp application
 System may hang when installing the driver on a Windows 10 system with 2 or more GPUs
 “Device being used by another application” error is displayed when attempting audio playback on Windows 7 systems
 Unable to create an Eyefinity SLS if one of the displays is a MST display device
 Unable to apply Fill mode in Eyefinity if 2560×1600 and 2560×1440 resolutions are used together
 DiRT Rally crashes during gameplay and benchmarking when launched in DirectX 11® mode on some BENQ 144HZ Freesync monitors
 Mad Max – Color corruption is observed when Alt+Ctrl+Del is pressed followed by the Escape key
 Battlefield Hardline crashes on pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del while running in AMD Mantle mode
 Corruption may occur in DiRT Rally with CMAA enabled with Portrait SLS and AMD CrossFire mode enabled
 Windows 10 driver installation may halt on some systems with an AMD 990FX chipset and AMD CrossFire enabled
As a temporary workaround, please uninstall the existing driver before installing the AMD Catalyst 15.8 Beta driver
 Some BENQ 144hz Freesync monitors may lose the signal while uninstalling the driver
 Assassin’s Creed® Unity may experience minor frame stutter when AMD CrossFire mode is enabled
Please note, the driver is still in a Beta stage meaning there could be instability issues, or undocumented bugs. Nevertheless, it’s promising to see updates for Batman: Arkham Knight which is not only a terrible PC port, but also prone to crashing on AMD graphics cards. On another note, it will be interesting to see the effect optimizations will have in the Ashes of the Singularity DirectX 12 patch. Will the trend of significant gains on AMD cards continue?
Do you download Beta drivers or patiently wait for the final release?
The Ashes of the Singularity DirectX 12 benchmark results has caused a great deal of animosity between AMD and NVIDIA. Previously, one of Oxide’s developers commented on the recent furore and suggested NVIDIA GPUs would struggle to utilize Async Compute Cores which should lead to greater gains using DirectX 12. Unsurprisingly, this viewpoint has been categorically shared by AMD’s Technical Marketing Lead, Robert Hallock:
“Oxide effectively summarized my thoughts on the matter. NVIDIA claims “full support” for DX12, but conveniently ignores that Maxwell is utterly incapable of performing asynchronous compute without heavy reliance on slow context switching. GCN has supported async shading since its inception, and it did so because we hoped and expected that gaming would lean into these workloads heavily. Mantle, Vulkan and DX12 all do. The consoles do (with gusto). PC games are chock full of compute-driven effects. If memory serves, GCN has higher FLOPS/mm2 than any other architecture, and GCN is once again showing its prowess when utilized with common-sense workloads that are appropriate for the design of the architecture.”
In basic terms, it appears that the Async Compute Cores rely on context switching which means threads are stored to allow for future executions. A good analogy is hyperthreading which works in a similar way. This process requires a large computational workload and it’s unsure if Maxwell’s core architecture will receive any benefit from Async Compute Cores. Supposedly, using this method will actually result in poorer raw performance.
WCCFTech received a fairly meagre response from NVIDIA surrounding this matter, and PR manager Brian Burke said:
“We’re glad to see DirectX 12 titles showing up. There are many titles with DirectX 12 coming before the end of the year and we are excited to see them.”
With DirectX 12 being the most revolutionary API ever devised, the war of words based upon contrasting technological approaches was bound to occur. It will be fascinating to see if the trend towards AMD gains occurs across many DirectX 12 titles. Arguably, NVIDIA feels this will become an isolated incident.
Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information.
AMD and NVIDIA have engaged in a fairly bitter dispute after the Ashes of the Singularity DirectX 12 benchmarks indicated a sharp increase in performance which worked in AMD’s favour. One could argue this is due to similarity between DirectX 12 and Mantle but it seems Async Compute Cores are at the heart of this discrepancy. NVIDIA were quick to dismiss the figures and suggested any early benchmarks will not reflect typical DirectX 12 performance gains. Only time will tell if this is true but one of Oxide’s leading developers commented on the furore and tried to give an explanation:
“Wow, there are lots of posts here, so I’ll only respond to the last one. The interest in this subject is higher then we thought. The primary evolution of the benchmark is for our own internal testing, so it’s pretty important that it be representative of the gameplay. To keep things clean, I’m not going to make very many comments on the concept of bias and fairness, as it can completely go down a rat hole.
Certainly I could see how one might see that we are working closer with one hardware vendor then the other, but the numbers don’t really bare that out. Since we’ve started, I think we’ve had about 3 site visits from NVidia, 3 from AMD, and 2 from Intel ( and 0 from Microsoft, but they never come visit anyone ;(). Nvidia was actually a far more active collaborator over the summer then AMD was, If you judged from email traffic and code-checkins, you’d draw the conclusion we were working closer with Nvidia rather than AMD wink.gif As you’ve pointed out, there does exist a marketing agreement between Stardock (our publisher) for Ashes with AMD. But this is typical of almost every major PC game I’ve ever worked on (Civ 5 had a marketing agreement with NVidia, for example). Without getting into the specifics, I believe the primary goal of AMD is to promote D3D12 titles as they have also lined up a few other D3D12 games.
If you use this metric, however, given Nvidia’s promotions with Unreal (and integration with Gameworks) you’d have to say that every Unreal game is biased, not to mention virtually every game that’s commonly used as a benchmark since most of them have a promotion agreement with someone. Certainly, one might argue that Unreal being an engine with many titles should give it particular weight, and I wouldn’t disagree. However, Ashes is not the only game being developed with Nitrous. It is also being used in several additional titles right now, the only announced one being the Star Control reboot. (Which I am super excited about! But that’s a completely other topic wink.gif).
Personally, I think one could just as easily make the claim that we were biased toward Nvidia as the only ‘vendor’ specific code is for Nvidia where we had to shutdownasync compute. By vendor specific, I mean a case where we look at the Vendor ID and make changes to our rendering path. Curiously, their driver reported this feature was functional but attempting to use it was an unmitigated disaster in terms of performance and conformance so we shut it down on their hardware. As far as I know, Maxwell doesn’t really have Async Compute so I don’t know why their driver was trying to expose that. The only other thing that is different between them is that Nvidia does fall into Tier 2 class binding hardware instead of Tier 3 like AMD which requires a little bit more CPU overhead in D3D12, but I don’t think it ended up being very significant. This isn’t a vendor specific path, as it’s responding to capabilities the driver reports.
From our perspective, one of the surprising things about the results is just how good Nvidia’s DX11 perf is. But that’s a very recent development, with huge CPU perf improvements over the last month. Still, DX12 CPU overhead is still far far better on Nvidia, and we haven’t even tuned it as much as DX11. The other surprise is that of the min frame times having the 290X beat out the 980 Ti (as reported on Ars Techinica). Unlike DX11, minimum frame times are mostly an application controlled feature so I was expecting it to be close to identical. This would appear to be GPU side variance, rather then software variance. We’ll have to dig into this one.
I suspect that one thing that is helping AMD on GPU performance is D3D12 exposes Async Compute, which D3D11 did not. Ashes uses a modest amount of it, which gave us a noticeable perf improvement. It was mostly opportunistic where we just took a few compute tasks we were already doing and made them asynchronous, Ashes really isn’t a poster-child for advanced GCN features.”
“Our use of Async Compute, however, pales with comparisons to some of the things which the console guys are starting to do. Most of those haven’t made their way to the PC yet, but I’ve heard of developers getting 30% GPU performance by using Async Compute. Too early to tell, of course, but it could end being pretty disruptive in a year or so as these GCN built and optimized engines start coming to the PC. I don’t think Unreal titles will show this very much though, so likely we’ll have to wait to see. Has anyone profiled Ark yet?
In the end, I think everyone has to give AMD alot of credit for not objecting to our collaborative effort with Nvidia even though the game had a marketing deal with them. They never once complained about it, and it certainly would have been within their right to do so. (Complain, anyway, we would have still done it, wink.gif)
P.S. There is no war of words between us and Nvidia. Nvidia made some incorrect statements, and at this point they will not dispute our position if you ask their PR. That is, they are not disputing anything in our blog. I believe the initial confusion was because Nvidia PR was putting pressure on us to disable certain settings in the benchmark, when we refused, I think they took it a little too personally.
AFAIK, Maxwell doesn’t support Async Compute, at least not natively. We disabled it at the request of Nvidia, as it was much slower to try to use it then to not.
Weather or not Async Compute is better or not is subjective, but it definitely does buy some performance on AMD’s hardware. Whether it is the right architectural decision for Maxwell, or is even relevant to it’s scheduler is hard to say.”
Theoretically, AMD cards should reap greater rewards from DirectX 12 as upcoming games begin to take full advantage of Async Compute Cores, a feature which is supposedly missing from NVIDIA’s line-up. As a result, it’s sensible to believe that AMD’s core architecture features the potential for greater gains. However, DirectX 12 is still an unknown entity and the Async Compute Cores could only be a small factor in the widespread performance numbers. Additionally, the spokesperson for Oxide admitted that Unreal Engine 4 doesn’t properly utilize Async Compute Cores so the difference will be negligible.
NVIDIA’s DirectX 11 implementation is very impressive through optimized drivers meaning their hardware had a long standing history of outperforming AMD on a software and hardware level. Now, AMD is more familiar with DirectX 12, it’s possible the gap could be reduced as NVIDIA gets to grips with the new API. Whatever the case, the true impact of Async Compute Cores is unknown and it’s up to future games to see if this will be a real-world advantage or something restricted to synthetic benchmarks.
ARK: Survival Evolved is a visually stunning survival-adventure game and already amassed a huge community. As with any graphical masterpiece, the GPU demands are quite high especially at UHD and QHD resolutions. The developer, Studio Wildcard, has announced a huge update via the Steam Community which releases this Friday. Included is a DirectX 12 patch which promises performance gains of 20% compared to the DirectX 11 rendering. However, it will be interesting if this is an average figure and how it scales across various GPUs. Will the DirectX 12 functionality work better on lower-end cards or AMD GPUs going by previous results?
Below is the complete patch notes for Friday’s update:
“– Specific Representative “on-ground” meshes for all dropped items – Water Raft – Driveable Dune Buggy Modding example (we’ll let modders have the first crack at vehicles with this example – Human and Dino Warpaint
– Collidable Saddle Platform & Build-on-Saddles: make your big brontos and plesios into mobile bases, build just about anything up from them! Build ladders to climb up onto them, whatever — the possibilities are nearly endless!!! We originally were gonna limit it to sleeping bags and turrets, but let’s just go all-out and make it work with everything.
– Powered Elevator Structures – Controllable Ballistas/Turrets to place on structures and on the backs of your dinos – Swamp Biome & New Swamp Cave – Snow Biome & New Snow Cave – Random GPU Driver crash fix: TrueSky”
In addition to technical improvements, there will also be a new creature called the Doedicurus. To accompany this announcement, the ARK team has unveiled a trailer and explanation of the animal’s abilities.
“The Armadillo-like Doedicurus is a handy creature to have in your stables, as it can efficiently harvest stone on an industrial scale. It also has tremendous defensive protection via its hard shell, to which it will retreat if threatened. Most importantly, when riding it, you can enter “shell-charge” mode and roll through the ARK as a hardened, nearly indestructible ball… similar to a certain blue rodent! This ability is great for rapidly closing the distance towards enemies, or just plowing through them like a bowling ball, making the Doedicurus fun for the whole tribe.”
With DirectX 12 powered games finally becoming mainstream, there’s no better time to get into PC Gaming the reap the rewards of a truly optimized API.
Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information.
There have undoubtedly been a lot of attempts in introducing Cloud Gaming in the past. The concept is great and it will really help reduce a lot of computing power on a user’s machine, but failed attempts so far don’t make it practical, so how about adding DirectX 12 and VR to the mix?
Elijah Freeman, Executive Producer at Crytek, told GamingBolt about some interesting ideas of combining all three technologies, and from what I understand, it might just work. Of course, VR requires low latency and high FPS to run the latest games, so optimizations for all titles using the technology should be on the developers’ minds all the time.
DirectX 12 already revealed its power of optimized draw calls and high FPS, so the API should be a must for developers looking to get a lot of ‘fancy’ stuff in their titles and get good frame rates at the end. This is why Crytek believes that combining the cloud, DirectX 12 and VR might just do the trick.
You can’t actually play a fully fledged VR game straight from the cloud, but Crytek believes that using it to simulate complex code which is not required on a user’s PC will greatly increase the performance and free up more resources. They presented such a concept when showing off a lot of explosions being simulated in Crackdown 3 without having a performance drop. You can view the title’s trailer below.
So what do you think? Is DirectX 12 and Cloud Gaming the future for complex VR games? Let us know!
Thank you GamingBolt for providing us with this information