DirectX 12 a Big Deal for AMD CPUs?
Back in 2011, AMD made a bold statement with the release of the FX-8150. Their premise was that single core performance was holding the industry back and that it was time to start trading in single core performance for the more advanced multi-threading performamce. That totally blew up in their face. The end result was a CPU that only out performed the previous gen chip (the Phenom II X6 1100T) in multi-threading benchmarks while suffering a hit in the single-threaded arena. Meanwhile, gaming as well as a vast amount of common applications continued to predominantly use single threads and INTEL garnered the massive lead they have today. But what if AMD was right all along and only jumped the gun a few years too soon? PC & Tech Authority had an interview with Crytek, a major game developer, and the resulting discussion shed some very interesting details on what DirectX 12 could mean for the future of multi-threaded performance.
The most interesting statement from Crytek was the fact that Microsoft has been “really keen on listening to developers.” The reason why is that developers are the ones who want to utilize more resources from the CPU by having more multi-threaded support. According to Crytek, the main concern not only to them, but also other developers, is improving throughput from the CPU. They explain that for many years now, the best way to move forward is to go massively parallel. There’s more to the picture than just this one piece, but it sounds like having multiple CPU cores working together to bring about the end program will dramatically help the future of games. Crytek mentions that with this extra CPU performance, developers can add more detail into the various scenes of a game without suffering as large a penalty in performance. This begins to sound like more possibilities for advancing physics engines within games, more realistic and fluid movements, as well as just all around better looking games. While these statements are very cherry-picked with much more detail going into DirectX 12, these are the statements that help us understand how much of a game changer this could be for AMD.
Going back to Bulldozer, AMD had begun focusing on beefing up multi-threaded performance so much that they could even rival INTEL’s top offerings in real world and benchmark performance. Then the reviewer would get to single-core performance with gaming and INTEL no longer had a competition. If DirectX 12 opens up the full potential of the AMD architecture, what will happen is AMD will have high performance gaming CPUs that are around $100 cheaper than what INTEL can offer in the same bracket. Now some of you may be thinking that this is all a moot point because Microsoft would have to garner support from most developers in order for this to become a huge factor. That’s where the last statement from Crytek becomes quite surprising. One feature the developers would like to see is DirectX 12 on Windows 7 so that they will have a larger market to cater to. If Microsoft is truly listening, this will be huge news for everyone in the gaming world. My personal belief is that Microsoft will release a watered down version of DirectX 12 to the previous Windows platforms leaving the fully featured version to be accessible to those who purchase Windows Threshold (Windows 9). Either way, if this becomes reality, PC gaming is likely to see some huge performance boosts in the near future and I can’t wait to see it happen.
A final detail to take note of is that this is by no means bad news for INTEL users. The Blue side has plenty of extra headroom that should be taken advantage of and with the release of the Core i7-5960X eight core monstrosity, one can only imagine how much gaming performance could be unlocked if that chip was used to its full potential. What’s exciting is that if this works well for AMD, the competition could get tight and that’s when everyone wins. Technology advances, companies make themselves better and enthusiasts have better chances at affording nice hardware. I may not be able to call Windows Threshold a success yet, but if everything rumored is true while Microsoft keeps heading in that direction, Windows 9 is going to be well worth the wait.