DirectX 12 Ultimate is the Missing Xbox Series X Link

Posted on March 19, 2020 by Brad Sams in Games, PC gaming, Xbox, Xbox Series X with 10 Comments

This week has been filled with gaming-related news. On Monday, Microsoft pulled back the curtains on the Xbox series X and yesterday, Sony announced the specs of the PlayStation 5.

Today, Microsoft is starting to talk about foundational software that will help make the next generation of gaming possible. Called DirectX 12 Ultimate, Microsoft is saying that this update will make platforms ‘future-proof’ for next-generation gaming.

DirectX 12 Ultimate (DX12U) is the evolution of DirectX 12 that the company has been working on for the past five years. Ultimate brings to DirectX 12 Raytracing, Variable Rate Shading, Mesh Shaders and Sampler Feedback to hardware that qualifies for the DX12U badging – in short, if you see the logo above, know that the hardware supports all next-generation features developed by Microsoft.

And here’s the key, the Xbox series X is DX12U compatible which means that Xbox and PC DirectX versions are no longer operating independently. Effectively this links PC game development to that of the Xbox series X. Microsoft says that “By unifying the graphics platform across PC and Xbox Series X, DX12 Ultimate serves as a force multiplier for the entire gaming ecosystem. No longer do the cycles operate independently”.

What this will allow is for game developers to target DX12U compatibility which will streamline the process of bringing games to both PC and Xbox at the same time. This is a big win for developers who are looking to make cross-platform titles and should also bring more PC titles to the Xbox as well.

Microsoft notes that DX12U is backward compatible with DX12 meaning that if you have a game that supports DX12U but your device only supports DX12, you will get the baseline benefits of DX12 but not the additional visual enhancements that DX12U provides.

Microsoft has always used the Xbox as a DirectX playground as the codename for the console was DirectX Box. But with DX12U and PC development now being linked with exactly the same version of DirectX, Microsoft hopes this will increase developer adoption of DX12U as there will be more targets that can use the features.

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