Overall, they describe six new features that are worth discussion further:
- Trim API: Basically a required helper API that allows the driver to eliminate any 'helper' memory when an app is suspended, which let's your app stay in memory longer.
- Hardware Overlay: Light APIs for using a compositing scheme, allowing you to use different sized swap chains for UI and 3D scenes, which supposedly is free when supported in hardware (with an efficient software fallback).
- HLSL Shader Linking: This is supposed to let you create libraries of shader code, with a new compiler target of lib_5_0. This could be interesting for distributing lighting functions or modular shader libraries, but I would reserve judgment on how it works until I get to try it out.
- Mappable default buffers: Resources that you can directly map even if they are created with the default usage flag. This is something that people have been requesting for a long time, so it is really nice to get into the API.
- Low latency presentation API: More or less there is a way to ensure that you get one frame latency in presenting your content to the screen. This is pretty important in cases where the user is actively interacting directly with the screen and can notice any latency between their inputs and the rendered results.
- Tiled Resources: This is basically the same idea as a mega texture (from id Software) but it is supported at the API level. It seems like a great addition and I can't wait to try this out.
Overall, for a point release it does seem like a pretty good one. There are some new features to play with, and especially the tiled resources seems like a cool new capability that wasn't there before. There's only one catch... the new features are only available on Windows 8.1 - at least for the foreseeable future. Nobody knows if this will ever be back ported to Windows 7, so if you want to try out the new features you will have to get the preview install of Win8.1 and give it a shot.
So what do you guys think about this release? Do you like it, hate it, or somewhere in between? Have you thought of any new functionality that you can perform with this new functionality???