DirectX 12 provides developers with lower level access to hardware
Microsoft unveiled details about its DirectX 12 API at the Game Developer Conference (GDC) today. According to Microsoft, its team of engineers redesigned the API with a focus on speed and efficiency. DX12 will enable richer scenes, more objects, and fully utilize modern GPU hardware. On top of it all, DX12 works across different types of Microsoft devices, including phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and the Xbox One.
Let the comparisons to AMD's Mantle API begin, primarily because both technologies promise a deeper level of access to the hardware.
"[DX12] provides a lower level of hardware abstraction than ever before, allowing games to significantly improve multithread scaling and CPU utilization," Microsoft stated in a blog post. "In addition, games will benefit from reduced GPU overhead via features such as descriptor tables and concise pipeline state objects. And that’s not all – Direct3D 12 also introduces a set of new rendering pipeline features that will dramatically improve the efficiency of algorithms such as order-independent transparency, collision detection, and geometry culling."
Perhaps the biggest news for some is that DirectX 12 will run on most of the cards out in the wild today, so you don't need to wrestle with the question of whether or not it's worth it to upgrade.
Obviously it's too early to make any kind of conclusions about DX12, but so far, it looks promising. To show off what's capable with the new API, Microsoft ported Futuremark's 3DMark benchmark to use Direct3D 12, which resulted in two major improvements. The first is a 50 percent improvement in CPU utilization, and the second is better distribution of work among threads.
There are a lot of other things going on with DX12, some of which will be revealed at a later date. As for when you'll see DX12 games, Microsoft says it's targeting the holiday period in 2015.