At SIGGRAPH this week, Intel demonstrated the benefits of DirectX 12 for thermally constrained devices, such as tablets. While the low-level graphics API will improve performance across all systems, it’s with these thermally constrained devices that DirectX 12 will be especially effective. The reason for this is that tablets have a certain power and thermal budget that constrains both the CPU and GPU. As a game begins to tax both components, it can easily reach the budget without using the maximum raw power of either component. With these types of devices, it’s a careful balancing act of giving a fair share of the pie to the CPU and GPU as necessary.
Microsoft’s DirectX 12 API for 3D graphics in games and other applications was first announced in March, but since then the company has been pretty quiet about its status. That changed this week as Microsoft and Intel teamed up to show that games that will use DirectX 12 will maintain high frame rates while also cutting the power consumption of a PC’s CPU. As part of the annual SIGGRAPH 2014 computer graphic conference, Microsoft and Intel showed a DirectX 12 demo running on a Surface Pro 3 tablet with a Intel HD4400 graphics chip. The demo itself was of an fictional asteroid field with 50,000 unique space rocks. The demo could be switched from using the current DirectX 11 to DirectX 12. Using DirectX 12 allowed the asteroid demo to keep the same framerate as it did under DirectX 11, but it cut the Surface Pro 3’s CPU power consumption by 50 percent. The demo could also be changed to show that framerates under DirectX 12 could be increased by over 50 percent compared to using DirectX 11 without the CPU using any extra power.