Microsoft Introduces Direct3D Feature Level 12_2, Claims AMD RDNA2 & NVIDIA RTX Support

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅29.08.2020 21:39:17

A new Microsoft DirectX Developer Blog has unveiled Direct3D Feature Level 12_2, an advancement to the baseline feature set that incorporates advancements such as DXR ray-traced rendering, mesh shaders, variable rate shading and more, and outlined current and near-term hardware support.

The week of any major gaming convention isn't solely an excuse for game studios to show off the latest and greatest works to an adoring public eager for their next entertainment fix. It's also an excellent opportunity for software vendors to liaise with the development community on the latest technologies, helping to lay groundwork for the future of the industry. Gamescom 2020 going virtual this year hasn't prevented that.

Microsoft's latest developer blog serves as a signpost to developers working with Direct3D that change is coming which will impact their workflow, as well as offer new functionality to take advantage of. The last Feature Level update to Direct3D took place with the launch of Windows 10, and by necessity Feature Level 12_1 mainly reordered functions already available through Direct3D 11 in another form. That's not the case this time around; there is no Direct 3D 11 implementation of Ray Traced rendering for example.

The new headache should be worth it however as Feature Level 12_2 incorporates advanced techniques now possible through the latest graphics hardware that were previously less formally codified within the API. They include:

- DirectX raytracing
- Mesh shaders
- Variable rate shading
- Sampler feedback

Developers will be able to interrogate the feature level support of attached graphics hardware, helping to streamline the implementation of new features and successful fallback modes. Direct3D Feature Level 12_2 and DirectX 12 Ultimate don't appear to be synonymous however.

NVIDIA broke down DirectX 12 Ultimate earlier this year

DX12 Ultimate is a marketing term that indicates support for certain advanced features in graphics hardware, but not necessarily all the functional aspects of Direct3D FL 12_2. It's intended as a tool to educate consumers about the practical capabilities of their hardware rather than games development minutiae.

Hardware Compatibility

Microsoft have outlined supporting hardware for the full capabilities of Feature Level 12_2. They include:

- NVIDIA GeForce RTX and NVIDIA Quadro RTX GPUs (we assume current and upcoming).
- AMD’s upcoming RDNA 2 architecture based GPUs.
- Some discrete GPU hardware currently on Intel's roadmap.

As developers of Direct3D and the next-gen XBOX console, Microsoft are uniquely positioned to determine the capabilities of AMD's RDNA2 graphics architecture, and in turn it allows us to broadly infer the capabilities of upcoming AMD desktop graphics hardware. Graphics cards based on RDNA2 should therefore, when they're released later this year, bring AMD's rendering feature set up to roughly on par with Turing-based GPUs.

Furthermore, MS is also collaborating with Qualcomm to bring the benefits of DirectX feature level 12_2 to Snapdragon platforms. We shall have to wait and see what that bodes for mobile and low power ARM-based platforms.

More details, including a breakdown of capabilities, are available at the blog.

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