Integrated graphic processing units try to make a strong case for passable gaming on laptops, but serve little purpose aside from that. If you’re gaming on a desktop, you probably have a chunkier, more powerful graphics card to handle all your 3D needs – letting the integrated work that Intel and AMD bake into their processors essentially go to waste. DirectX 12, however, is going to put it to good use.
In amongst all the hustle and bustle created over Square Enix’s new tech demo (which showcased DirectX 12 technology with quad-SLI Titan Xs), Microsoft made a rather big statement about how DX12 will combine integrated and discrete graphic chips. There have been past attempts to achieve this – most notably AMD’s own dual graphics solution which worked on a select range of cards – but DirectX 12 is promising something bigger. Something that won’t let a thing go to waste in your already monstrous rig.
Using something called Multiadapter, DirectX 12 will essentially combine the graphical processing power of your discrete and integrated graphical components, gaining power from a required component in your setup. Using an Unreal benchmark race, Multiadapter already showed a significant difference – with the same scene gaining around five frames just from smarter, low-level access to graphical components.
It all happens in Post Processing, where the program is able to offload this task to the iGPU unit and allow the discrete card to continue onto the next frame. That sounds like it could lead to some micro-stuttering issues here and there – but nothing I’m sure developers won’t wrap their minds around soon.
It might seem like a small, negligible bump, but the kicker is that this improvement comes at nearly no cost to you. All computers need a CPU, and 99% of them now feature their own form of integrated graphics. So Multiadapter is just handing out performance gains for free – while opening up an insane amount of possibilities for the future.
Think for a second about how Intel and AMD could capitalize on this. CPUs could now be about more than clock speeds, caches and unlocked multipliers. CPUs could now have more focused attention on what integrated graphical technology they ship with – since it’ll be put to a far greater use when used with beefier graphics cards. This also lends a lot of credibility to claims that DX12 will be able to combine VRAM from multiple cards – as the low-level access is allowing different chips to do different things simultaneously.
It’s some really, really exciting stuff for a piece of API that will come free with Windows 10 (if you have the card to support it). Games might not support features like this until well into next year, which gives you more than enough time to gear up for DirectX 12. I do wonder, however, how well this is going to impact something like the Xbox One though.
Last Updated: May 4, 2015