Microsoft launches DirectSR preview to let developers easily integrate FSR, DLSS, and XeSS upscaling into games

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Microsoft officially launched a preview of DirectSR today. Built in collaboration with AMD, Intel, and Nvidia, the new API aims to seamlessly integrate DLSS, FSR, and XeSS into DirectX 12 titles with just a single code path, increasing the accessibility and ease with which developers can integrate all three upscalers into their games. DirectSR is available now through Microsoft's Agility SDK 1.714.0 preview release featuring built-in FSR 2.2 support. DirectSR support for DLSS and XeSS can be accessed through Intel's and Nvidia's latest drivers.

DirectSR is Microsoft's version of Nvidia's Streamline SDK, which also supports third-party upscaling solutions on top of DLSS. Microsoft's new API enables multi-vendor upscaling through a common set of inputs and outputs, unifying AMD's, Intel's, and Nvidia's upscaling solutions under one interface.

This unification reduces the amount of work developers need to do to integrate DLSS, FSR, and XeSS into their games. In the past, each upscaling solution had to be implemented manually with separate SDKs — except for game engines with upscale-specific plug-ins, such as Unreal Engine 5. With DirectSR, all three upscalers can be implemented in one fell swoop.

Technically, DirectSR's functionality is already present in Nvidia's Streamline SDK, which has been out for two years, but has yet to be widely adopted for integrating anything other than DLSS. DirectSR has a much higher potential to gain traction with developers, as it's rooted in the DirectX 12 pipeline.

Because DirectSR is technically an alternative installation method of integrating DLSS, XeSS, and FSR, Microsoft's new API needs to be supported at the graphics driver level for hardware-specific upscaling solutions. This means that existing graphics drivers for, say, DLSS and Intel's XMX-compatible version of XeSS will not be compatible with DirectSR, and users will need to upgrade to a GPU driver version that is compatible with the new API.

Microsoft says that DirectSR will have built-in support for GPU-agnostic upscaling variants, which apparently will not require GPU driver updates. For the latest preview of DirectSR, Microsoft has added built-in support for FSR 2.2 only. However, we expect Microsoft to add built-in support for Intel's DP4a, the GPU-agnostic version of XeSS, in a future update (probably the full-release version).

It's great to see developers getting treated to easier accessibility and more streamlined integration for all three upscaling solutions. DirectSR will inevitably contribute to the increasing adoption of upscaling solutions in modern video games, particularly in DirectX 12 titles. We expect DirectSR support to be integrated into both new/upcoming games and existing titles. However, we don't expect to see widespread adoption of DirectSR until the API is fully released. It's a shame Vulkan doesn't have a DirectSR counterpart (yet), but at least Nvidia's Streamline SDK can still technically fill that void.

Aaron Klotz
Freelance News Writer

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • CmdrShepard
    I really wish they all stopped pushing that software upscaling crap.
    Reply
  • ohio_buckeye
    I’m ok with upscaling if it can look the same as native and not add input lag etc.

    That said, shows you they may be starting to hit some walls with how fast they can push gpus in the mainstream since they’ve been pushing upscaling so hard.
    Reply
  • BelowTheL1ne
    They have plenty of tech to increase resolution in games. Its not worth the cost to produce when they can sell the high end stuff to data centers and scale down the tech massively to consumers.
    Reply
  • Math Geek
    How bout just have 1 upscaling api instead of a dozen of them? Then we'd not need to this type of SDK to try and include all of them. If Intel, AMD and Nvidia all worked on it together, just simplify the whole thing and agree on one single upscaler and be done with it.

    I don't care for any of this fake frame generation, but at least this way I'd only have 1 single acronym to remember that I hate :)
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Given the price of modern GPUs, it's really a necessity to extend the life of your card unless you're made of money, not to mention the boost to laptops.

    I'm not a huge fan of it, moreso because even reputable tech sites harp on it as the greatest thing and claim they're able to play games at, say, 4K120 max details with ray tracing, when it's just using 60% scaling, and I think AMD and nVidia are using it as an excuse to provide less generational uplift than is possible while colluding to keep prices sky high, but it's a necessary evil.
    Reply
  • thestryker
    Not that I have any great hope for it because publishers love to make stupid deals, but maybe this will mean more games simply having all 3 and that'd be nothing but good for customers.
    CmdrShepard said:
    I really wish they all stopped pushing that software upscaling crap.
    Only if we also somehow banned developers from crutching on TAA. When you can't turn off TAA the algorithms at use with DLSS/FSR/XeSS can actually be an improvement in image quality.
    Math Geek said:
    How bout just have 1 upscaling api instead of a dozen of them? Then we'd not need to this type of SDK to try and include all of them. If Intel, AMD and Nvidia all worked on it together, just simplify the whole thing and agree on one single upscaler and be done with it.
    They'd have to write an algorithm which had specific hardware paths on each different manufacturer's hardware or convince them to all make a unified piece of hardware for handling upscaling neither one of which is going to happen. Microsoft's solution is likely the smoothest solution we're going to see for the near future.
    Math Geek said:
    I don't care for any of this fake frame generation, but at least this way I'd only have 1 single acronym to remember that I hate :)
    Upscaling and frame generation are two different things and each has their place. Frame generation is basically mandatory for higher refresh rate displays if you want to have good looking graphics as well.
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    I'm not a huge fan of it, moreso because even reputable tech sites harp on it as the greatest thing and claim they're able to play games at, say, 4K120 max details with ray tracing, when it's just using 60% scaling, and I think AMD and nVidia are using it as an excuse to provide less generational uplift than is possible while colluding to keep prices sky high, but it's a necessary evil.
    Their marketing is certainly off the rails, but most of that has been NV talking about frame generation to sell the 40 series as being a better value compared to 30 series than it is.

    This whole generation was a mess on the $/perf side outside of the 4090 for both AMD and NV. We'll see where it ends up with the forthcoming cards from all three vendors as to whether this idiocy holds or not.
    Reply
  • Jagar123
    thestryker said:
    This whole generation was a mess on the $/perf side outside of the 4090 for both AMD and NV. We'll see where it ends up with the forthcoming cards from all three vendors as to whether this idiocy holds or not.
    I have very low hopes that they correct course on pricing. I've held out long enough that I will simply not have a choice but to upgrade when next gen releases. If the new gen stuff is insanely priced then I guess I can get the last gen parts for somewhat cheaper at least.
    Reply
  • thestryker
    Jagar123 said:
    I have very low hopes that they correct course on pricing. I've held out long enough that I will simply not have a choice but to upgrade when next gen releases. If the new gen stuff is insanely priced then I guess I can get the last gen parts for somewhat cheaper at least.
    I feel much the same and that's why I picked up a 6800 XT for backup/secondary when one got down to I think it was $430 (plus the Starfield deal! :ROFLMAO: ). I have a 2060 6GB which is plenty, but the pricing made me really jaded so I bought a new card much earlier than I normally would. That being said you still can't get that level of performance for that price with anything today which I think says a lot about the poor state of the market.

    I do still really hope things get better with the forthcoming generation of cards as the death of the midrange has been really frustrating to watch even if it's not where I buy.
    Reply
  • DS426
    Math Geek said:
    How bout just have 1 upscaling api instead of a dozen of them?

    thestryker said:
    ...

    They'd have to write an algorithm which had specific hardware paths on each different manufacturer's hardware or convince them to all make a unified piece of hardware for handling upscaling neither one of which is going to happen. Microsoft's solution is likely the smoothest solution we're going to see for the near future.
    AMD made FSR open source from the beginning. Intel has an os version as well if I'm not mistaken. The difference is that nVidia markets their brand on DLSS as being the superior upscaling tech, so no, why would they give it away for free? To be fair, it isn't hardware-agnostic to provide its advantages, i.e. utilizes AI and tensor cores. So, putting away wishful and ultimately unrealistic thinking, the best path forward for developers and game customers alike is to have the graphics API simplify it.

    As the author mentioned, hopefully Vulkan will add this feature before long as well.
    Reply
  • ekio
    Math Geek said:
    How bout just have 1 upscaling api instead of a dozen of them? Then we'd not need to this type of SDK to try and include all of them. If Intel, AMD and Nvidia all worked on it together, just simplify the whole thing and agree on one single upscaler and be done with it.

    I don't care for any of this fake frame generation, but at least this way I'd only have 1 single acronym to remember that I hate :)
    That’s not how tech works… Improvements come from very different ideas, made by different team working in a different way, that compete in the same arena at the end.
    What you describe is how tech standard work, such as html5, then multiple companies implement the standard their own way trying to squish the best perf.
    Reply