DirectX 12 delivers 50% less power drain in latest Microsoft demo

DirectX 12 won't just make your games look better - Microsoft and Intel have demonstrated how it could also improve power consumption by a dramatic 50%.

At the SIGGRAPH show in Los Angeles Microsoft and Intel showed how flipping a rendering engine switch from current DirectX 11 to next-gen DirectX 12 can cut power consumption by a half.

The pair demonstrated the capabilities of the new API by running a custom application on a Surface Pro 3 modestly equipped with an Intel Haswell processor and Intel HD4400 integrated graphics chip.

The application rendered a scene with 50,000 asteroids colliding with each other in space. Switching over to DirectX 12 not only dropped the power drain but also doubled the frame rate.

Dismantling AMD

The key difference between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 is the latter allows the GPU to take on more physics processing and calculating collisions. The CPU typically takes on these computing tasks, but by offloading it to the graphics card it lets the processor run cooler while drawing less power.

Of course, this means the GPU is sucking up more energy. However, from the charts in the demonstration it seems that DirectX 12 can render double the frame rate when it's given the same power allowance as DirectX 11.

For a long time DirectX upgrades have meant big leaps in graphical fidelity at the cost of being more intensive on PC hardware, requiring users to pay up for more capable parts. Now it seems DirectX 12 is offering up a flat upgrade for lower power consumption and improved performance.

AMD's Mantle has plenty to worry about with numbers like these, but we'll have to see some real world tests before we say it's flawless.