OpenGL 3 & DirectX 11: The War Is Over

Direct3D 11

With Direct3D 10, Microsoft made the most sweeping revision of its API since its creation. Admittedly, all those years of compatibility were beginning to handicap the evolution of its API and the goal was to provide a sound foundation for future developments. Yet, the new programming interface received a mixed reception from gamers and developers alike.

Microsoft is largely to blame. After hyping the merits of its API for several years before it was actually available, surely it had to expect a certain amount of discontent when gamers realized that the actual product didn’t really change much for them. Add to that the fact that the new API was written exclusively for Vista, and it was enough to generate animosity toward what had been presented as nothing less than a small revolution. As for developers, things were even more complicated. By associating Direct3D 10 and Vista, Microsoft greatly limited the number of existing computers that would be able to run a game using the API.

Further—and this is no secret for anybody—the PC as a gaming platform has lost ground in recent years with the emergence of the new consoles, to which several major developers from the PC world have now switched. id Software, Epic, and Lionhead are now all working on multi-platform projects, if not developing exclusively for consoles. And since both HD consoles on the market use a DirectX 9 GPU, developers have all the motivation they need to stick with the previous MS API.

So why are we talking about Direct3D 11 now? First of all, because Microsoft has finally lifted the veil from its API and because, after all, it’s still a newsworthy event—one that’ll give us an idea of what to expect from next year’s hardware. And what’s more, there’s a good chance that Direct3D 11 will prove to be a more important page in the history of the API than version 10 was. While Direct3D 10 was a complete revision, with all the risks that entails, Microsoft has now put enough distance between it and this new version to correct the problems raised by the first major overhaul of its API. So you could call Direct3D 11 a major update, albeit an incremental one. It re-uses all the concepts that were introduced with Direct3D 10, and is compatible with the preceding version and with the preceding generation’s hardware. And finally, it’ll be available not only on Windows 7, but also on Vista. So Microsoft has corrected the biggest problems with the preceding version and it’s being whispered among developers that some of them are skipping Direct3D 10 and moving directly to version 11 for their future games.

That rationale holds water for several reasons. A typical game’s development phase is between two and four years. So by the time a game that is just now starting its development phase is released, Direct3D 11 will be already well established for PCs, since it’ll run on all PCs shipped with Windows 7 and work on the great majority of PCs running Vista. And, it seems very probable that regardless of their release dates, future consoles will use Direct3D 11-compatible GPUs (or something close, like the Xenos in the Xbox 360, which is a superset of DirectX 9). Consequently, aiming at that level of functionality will enable developers to get the jump on the next generation of consoles. But we aren’t here to do a market study. What does the new API bring with it from a technical point of view?

  • Gatekeeper_Guy
    Cool, but it will be a few years before we see at DX11 graphic card on the market.
  • stridervm
    Sadly, I agree by the author's opinions. Not simply for, but because it still give away the idea that PC gaming cannot be considered serious..... Unless you're using Windows, which is proprietary, the only viable alternative cannot be used because of the fear of losing compability. I just hope this can be remedied before Microsoft becomes.... Unreasonable and becomes power hungry..... If it isn't already. Look at how Windows systems cost now compared to the the alternative.
  • johnbilicki
    DirectX 11 will be available on Windows 7 and Vista? Great news indeed! Normal noobs will be able to own super noobs who are standing around looking at over-detailed shrubs.

    As for real gamers, we'll stick with XP until either Microsoft gets smart and clones XP and only adds on Aero or OpenGL gets it's act together and Linux becomes a viable gaming platform. It would be nice if it became a viable anything-other-then-a-web-server viable platform though. Linux gurus, feel free to let us know in sixty years that I won't have to explain to my grandmother how to type console commands to install a copy of Opera.

    OpenGL can go screw backwards compatibility, look what it's done to (competent) web designers who are stuck dealing with Internet Explorer.

    All the bad news about DirectX, OpenGL, and DRM makes me wonder if these companies want us to pirate the hell out of everything. At this rate "next generation" consoles might actually become the next generation consoles!
  • jimmysmitty
    Gatekeeper_GuyCool, but it will be a few years before we see at DX11 graphic card on the market.
    I thought the article said that DX11 is supposed to be compatable with previous gen hardware.

    I know the Gemoetry Shader with Tesselation is already in all of the ATI Radeon HD GPUs so thats one thing it will support.

    But no SP 5.0 support. I have heard that Intels GPU, Larrabee will support DX11. So that would mean late 2009/2010 will have at least one and that should mean that ATIs HD5K series and nVidias next step should includ support if they were smart and jumped on the wagon early.
  • OpenGL may not have gotten the changes it needed to compete with DirectX as a gaming graphics API. But then you have people like Tim Sweeney telling us that graphics APIs are not going to be relevant that much longer (

    Direct3D 10 has changed very little in the industry so far, predictably only a very small number of games us it. And those who do can do most of it on Direct3D 9 as well. Maybe MS learned by now that releasing a new API on only the latest platform is a huge mistake, but it will still be a while before people will adapt their new API. And if Tim Sweeney's predictions come true, it will likely not happen at all.
  • martel80
    johnbilickiLinux gurus, feel free to let us know in sixty years that I won't have to explain to my grandmother how to type console commands to install a copy of Opera.I have been able to "accidentally" (because I'm no Linux guru, you know) install Opera through the Synaptic Package Manager on Ubuntu. So please, stop talking nonsense. :)
    The process was a bit different but overall faster than under Windows.
  • dx 10 may not appear major but for devs its actually is.. no more checking cap bits.. that is a big improvment. dx10 is alot more strict in terms of what the drivers should do and thats good. doing away with fixed functions is also great

    however hardware tesselation if huge.. dx 11 also allows for hardware voxel rendering /raymarching thru compute shaders and alot of other stuff.. as apis become more general im sure the pace of new apis: will slow down, but that's not a indicator that pc gaming is dying (un informed people have claimed that the pc is dead since the ps1)

    as for the windows/other platforms discussion, it is not the fault of microsoft that there is no viable alternative on other platforms. if someone chose to compete with microsoft, they could. but no one seems willing. what really should be done is a port/implementation of dx11 in open source..

    however, in the cut throat buisness of game engines and gpu drivers, i seriously doubt that open source systems will ever be at the forefront of gaming
  • phantom93
    DX11 is compatiable with DX10 hardware. It should work when it is released unless they have bugs.
  • spaztic7
    From my understanding, all HD4800 serious are DX11 compatible... and the HD4800 line is ray tracing compatible at ray tracings frame cap. I do not know about the 4600 line, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t be.
    ow PC gameing is dieing allright the major game componies are starting to squeese out the PC games from there production list useing the excuse that they are loosing money through pirecy but what they are realy doing is cutting out one version forcing PC gamers to evolve into console players
    And from this article I get the impresion that microsoft has a hand in it aswell by making sure that the console games end up running better or as good as PC games
    I think if the origenal Opengl was alowed to proceed years ago and if the follow up was taken and there wasnt any sabotage happening then the PC and its performance with mutly CPU GPU and the tecnolegy evolving with the progamers and propper apis in this area would have left the console market in the shade but this way Microsoft is eliminating other similar competion Apple
    To cut to the chace Apple and OpenGl is getting the Microsft squeese and who has an interest in a console product :-)
    I guess I might be one of the old dinosorse but I still am a PC gamer through and through even though I am grampar foda I love buiding PC units and playing well I havent been to a net game in a couple of years Pizza and beer he he heee But Il be buggered If I will lie down and die because of big buisness