DirectX 12 reduces power consumption by 50%, boosts fps by 60%

DirectX 12 reduces power consumptionDirectX is Microsoft’s application programming interface that connects the operating system and applications to any PC graphics hardware. Other chip makers are proposing their own, proprietary solutions, such as AMD’s Mantle.

At its Siggraph 2014 booth, Intel is showing off one of the first public demos of DirectX 12 and Direct3D 12 — and the improvement over older graphics APIs, such as DirectX 11, is really quite startling. The exact same demo under DirectX 12 consumed 50% less power than the DirectX 11 version. In a similar demo, the higher efficiency and lower overheads of DX12 allowed for a 60% increase in frame rate over DX11 while consuming the same amount of power. After an awful lot of talk about the benefits of Mantle, DirectX 12, and OpenGL NG, it’s very exciting to see an example of the actual real-world gains of these new graphics APIs.

The demo shows an asteroid field made up of 50,000 unique lumps of space rock, all rendered on the HD 4400 processor graphics inside the CPU itself. At the flick of a switch (or more likely the tap of a key), Intel can show the difference between rendering with the DirectX 11 API and the upcoming DirectX 12 update.

“Like the Surface Pro 3, all devices which support DirectX 12 can benefit from DirectX 12 reduced power consumption, either in the form of longer battery life, increased performance, or some combination of the two,” Andrew Yeung, a Microsoft program manager, wrote in a blog post.

“The power savings are coming directly from the efficiency improvements that inherently come with using the DirectX 12 API,” Yeung added. “Lower level access to the hardware than ever before allows applications to significantly improve their CPU utilization, enabling them to draw extremely complex scenes at a significantly reduced energy cost.”

The key difference between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 is the latter allows the GPU to take on more physics processing and calculating collisions. The CPU typically takes on these computing tasks, but by offloading it to the graphics card it lets the processor run cooler while drawing less power.

Of course, this means the GPU is sucking up more energy. However, from the charts in the demonstration it seems that DirectX 12 can render double the frame rate when it’s given the same power allowance as DirectX 11.

For a long time DirectX upgrades have meant big leaps in graphical fidelity at the cost of being more intensive on PC hardware, requiring users to pay up for more capable parts. Now it seems DirectX 12 is offering up a flat upgrade for lower power consumption and improved performance.

AMD’s Mantle has plenty to worry about with numbers like these, but we’ll have to see some real world tests before we say it’s flawless.