Why is Microsoft silent on DirectX 12’s Xbox One benefits?

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DirectX 12 is coming (in July!) and will bring significant benefits to PC games, as the API allows developers to get closer to the hardware. It also brings changes to how the Xbox One’s eSRAM is used – which could herald a performance increase in games on Microsoft’s admittedly weaker console. For whatever reasons, Microsoft’s mum on what sort of performance increase we might see in future games on the system. Why is that? According to Stardock’s Brad Wardell, it’s because people don’t really know yet.

Speaking to Gamingbolt on his own game, Ashes of Singularity, Wardell says that there’s a 70% increase in performance comparing the DX11 and DX12 versions of the game side by side. However, on console it’s all theoretical; with there being no DX12 Xbox One games yet, it’s hard to even guess what sort of increase there might be –if any.

“With the Xbox One we’re being pretty speculative right because there isn’t a game that’s using DirectX 12 on the console at this point in time, so I can’t even do a side by side comparison,” he said. “Whereas on the PC we have Ashes of the Singularity. It is a game that’s been optimized for DirectX 11 and updated for DirectX 12, and you can run them side by side on the same hardware and get a 70% boost on DirectX 12 over DirectX 11.”

“So it’s pretty easy for me to say yes you’ll get a huge impact on PC, but on the console it’s all a theory. They have nothing, they don’t even know. I mean I’ve talked to the development team there on this subject for a while and it basically boils down to, we don’t know how much of an effect it will have because so much of it is in the hands of the developer.”

“I mean that’s the thing I like about being able to make a prediction, is that something that’s on a visual medium like this is that we’ll be able to revisit this discussion a year from now and it will be pretty obvious. You’ll see the games that run on DirectX 12 and you’ll be able to compare them with games that run on DirectX11 on the Xbox One and you’ll be like ‘Oh, yeah there’s quite a difference’.”

I’m sure impending games from Microsoft’s first party at least will utilise the API’s newer SDK to great effect, and games like Halo 5 and Gears of War will impress. Until then though? It’s all just theory.

My own predictions? It won’t as great an effect as people would hope. While it may help the Xbox One achieve better frame rates and resolutions, it’s not the speed of the eSRAM that’s holding the system back, but rather the amount of it – at a paltry 32MB, it’s just not enough. Of course, it’s all about games, not frame rates and resolutions. Right? Right…guys?

Last Updated: April 23, 2015

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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