Vulkan and DX12: The Future of Graphics

Originally this post was gonna be me spazzing out about more video games, but right as I created a blank post I ran into a tweet about DirectX 12. DirectX has been around for AGES and it’s what most game companies use to actually get their games running in 3D on PC with the Direct3D Drivers, so hearing new information about DirectX is basically hearing new information about the future of PC gaming!

Coming later this year!


This is a perfect opportunity not just to discuss the potential of DirectX, but also the future of 3D graphics as a whole! In fact, just a few weeks ago at GDC 2015 there was a presentation focusing on the newest iteration of OpenGL, “Vulkan“, created by the Khronos Group. Some of the companies that presented included Valve Software (Source Engine), Epic Games (Unreal Engine), EA’s Frostbite Engine team, Oxide Games (Nitrous Engine).


Now I’ll spare you all the technical details, or argue which of the two is better (though I’ll give you a hint: I’m a Valve fanboy). Rather, let’s talk about what these two new APIs bring to the game field: Multi-Threading.

Nearly all modern CPUs are multi-core, usually anywhere between 4 and 8 (maybe you remember “Duo-Core” computers). Each core allows the computer to complete a task (at the base level that’s just a bunch of math). With multiple cores, you can get more done in less time by splitting up the tasks, but older versions of OpenGL and DirectX 11 effectively use only one of those cores! With DirectX 12 and Vulkan being multi-core compatible, those processes can take a fraction of the time by utilizing more of the CPU’s resources!

If you’re still a bit confused, this article has good visual representation from AMD’s DirectX 12 presentation.

Additionally, these remove a lot of the computational overhead which can often lower framerates and drop quality. PC’s in particular struggle from this a lot because of the lack of standardized hardware, nearly every PC is slightly different with CPU, GPU, Motherboard, power supply, etc.


The video above is Dota 2 from Valve running on the current (unreleased) version of Source 2. There are a ton of background character models, particles, effects, and gameplay mechanics all running simultaneously at a consistently high frame rate. The game is also running on Linux, which is one of the benefits of the Vulkan API over the DirectX API.

In conclusion, software developers and hardware developers are finally getting back into really optimizing their systems! Microsoft’s Windows 10 , for example, is already being developed from the ground up to work on smaller devices, larger devices, Xbox One, and PCs all far more efficiently and with less clutter than previous versions. I’m looking forward to seeing how much better my game runs on my 3 year old hardware, and even more excited to see what it means when the hardware gets even more powerful!

Until next time!

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