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DirectX 12 Ultimate opens ray tracing to all platforms and prepares us for a more photorealistic future

Today Microsoft has introduced DirectX 12 Ultimate , the new version of its famous set of APIs for video game developers, and in it there is a fundamental novelty: the clear commitment to ray tracing.

Until now NVIDIA had been the great promoter of this technology, and in fact this manufacturer has collaborated with Microsoft to push DirectX 12 Ultimate and make it the industry standard. A standard open to all – including, of course, AMD – that is postulated as an opportunity for much wider adoption of ray tracing.

Ray tracing and more

The main advantage of the new version of DirectX 12 Ultimate is the support of ray tracing natively. This technology will allow adding photorealistic effects to sections such as lighting and shadows or reflections.

This set of libraries integrates the improvements that Microsoft and NVIDIA had brought to DXR 1.1 , and all those improvements will be seen in 30 games that have been announced or are already available.

Among them is for example that preliminary version of Minecraft with ray tracing, a perfect example of what this type of techniques can bring to a game.

The improvements go further, and apply to other important fields for developers. Thus, we have support for Variable Rate Shading, Mesh Shaders, and the so-called Sampler Feedback , technical features that developers can take advantage of to take advantage of more photorealistic effects and games that can also be computed more efficiently.

Microsoft’s proposal is striking because it allows developers working on different platforms to take advantage of a “universal” API that has been accepted by the industry for years and now adds that expected support for ray tracing.

NVIDIA graphics from the RTX family are already ready to work with DX12 Ultimate, but so will future AMD graphics that are expected to arrive in a few months and that will make use of the RDNA 2 microarchitecture.

Incidentally, among them, for example, will be the one integrated into the Xbox Series X, which will also have this type of support. The PS5 will support ray tracing as well, but not through DirectX 12 : it will be interesting to compare implementations on both consoles when they appear.

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