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The Features of Direct3D 11.2

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Jason Z


I am sure you have heard by now about the new BUILD 2013 conference and all of the goodies that were presented there. Of special interest to the graphics programmer are the new features defined in the Direct3D 11.2 specification level. I watched the "What's New in Direct3D 11.2" presentation, which provided a good overview of the new features. You can check out the video for yourself here.

Overall, they describe six new features that are worth discussion further:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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???

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The new features are nice but the requirement of Win8.1 makes them useless in practical terms as Win7 is, and is likely to remain for some time, the main platform on the PC.

In fact MS's choices with D3D lately have me looking back in the direction of OpenGL4.x in order to get at and use these features without having to mess about with platform versions - when your choices make OpenGL4.x look attractive then you are Doing It Wrong™.


Yeah I completely agree with this opinion. OpenGL is free cross-platform technology which is already a big advantage. The main advantage of MS-specific DirectX is that almost all consumers' PC run Windows. And they are basically killing this advantage by binding this new DX extension to yet unsuccessful Windows 8. I love Microsoft but their new course is a bit.. floating.


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+1 to what has been said. The new features look really nice, but I'm more worried about Microsoft turn in direction lately, of pissing off every customer not running the latest version of their software.

Of all 3 parties involved (Microsoft, Consumers, and Third Party Developers) only Microsoft gets benefited from this approach.

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I agree with you guys - it really is a big hindrance to adoption.  Really it doesn't matter if it is Windows 8.1 only and not Win8, since virtually everyone will update to 8.1 when it is available.  But Win7 is the biggie, and if D3D11.1 was only back ported in theory then it doesn't look good for 11.2...  These features don't necessarily require new hardware (at least it doesn't appear so) or there are software fallbacks, so it would be really nice if they did bring them back.


Let's keep our fingers crossed.


"maybe" XBOX One will help a bit °_°


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Another big 11.2 feature is the ability to use the HLSL compiler in App Store apps (and hence mobile apps) to do runtime shader compilation.


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That's right - I forgot about that one.  It is indeed a nice feature addition, and it only applies to Win8+ since it is for Windows Store Apps.  Thanks for the reminder :)


I ended up adding support for pre-compiled shader bytecode because of that whole kerfuffle, so in the end I guess it was worth it.  Still, I wish they had made that decision from the beginning...


Anyways, hopefully that leads to more people writing Store Apps with D3D in mind.


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