Microsoft reveals new features in upcoming DirectX 12

According to Microsoft, DirectX 12 is getting better at ray tracing. The DXR 1.0 API that brought us last year's Star Wars Raytracing technology demo is also moving to version 1.1 with features that provide better performance and more flexibility. It is currently being tested but will be available next year. The DX12 will also have a host of other features.

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Yesterday (October 29, 2019), Microsoft revealed some brand new features that will be available in DirectX 12, including Raytracing level 1.1, Grid Shader, Sampler Feedback, etc. Support is currently only available in Preview builds of the Windows Insider Program, specifically 20H1 , are likely to go public in the first half of 2020.

The DirectX Raytracing SDK (DXR level 1.0) came out last year. Since then, game developers and GPU vendors including Nvidia and Epic Games have pushed it forward, featuring life-like scenes rendered in real time.

Microsoft worked with developers and manufacturers to improve DXR level 1.1. Here is a list of improvements:

Support for adding shaders to existing Raytracing PSOs, greatly increasing the efficiency of dynamic PSOs.
ExecuteIndirect support for Ray tracing , allowing adaptive algorithms where the number of rays is decided on the GPU execution timeline.
Inline Raytracing provides direct control over ray tracing algorithms and shader scheduling.

Microsoft also advises game developers to start building a ray tracing solution based on the available API level 1.0, then move up to level 1.1 when it can better assess its benefits to their game. 

Mesh Shader is another new addition.

The company claims DirectX Mesh Shader is the next generation of GPU geometry processing.

Comparison of mesh shader operation and Legacy D3D12

It replaces the current input compiler, vertex shader, hull shader, tessellator, domain shader, and geometry shader. This feature will add efficiency and flexibility to geometry manipulation.

Mesh shaders can enhance performance by allowing geometry to be pre-removed without having to output a new index buffer into memory, while triangles are currently only removed by fixed-function hardware after vertex shader completes execution.

DirectX Sampler Feedback allows the game to generate a Feedback Map during rendering. This map will help the game load only the textures needed for the most detailed MIP levels. Games, especially those with 4K assets, will load faster and put less strain on memory. Sampler Feedback improves texture streaming so that only the required data is loaded into the stream. It also makes the formation of texture space more efficient by removing excess.

DirectX 12 has a number of other features that Microsoft promises to provide technical information about in the next few weeks along with all the specifications of all the features.

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