Microsoft Vista and DirectX 10
Set to ship at beginning of next year Microsoft Vista will be Microsoft’s first Major operating system release since releasing Windows XP in 2001 . Windows Vista will have a lot of enhancement over Windows XP in terms of Interface , Security , Data Organization and good search capabilities . It will also change the standard of gaming by introducing DirectX 10 , an upgraded collection of APi’s , that according to Microsoft will offer seven to eight times the graphics performance of DirectX 9 .
It has been called DirectX 10 , Windows Graphics Foundation 2 and recently Direct3D10 , the naming convention likely to cler up before its release but it is bound to introduce a new era in PC gaming . DirectX API’s (Application Programming Interface ) are a collection of Interfaces that standardize how game developers talk to System Hardware . Insetead of writing for every Video or Sound Card ,it is much easier for programmers to write for a single DirectSound or Direct 3D . Microsoft has rebuilt its Direct 3D API’s from the beginning for Vista and it will serve as a base for all the future Direct 3D applications through the life of Vista . Because the Direct3D10 foundation has to serve game developers through the next decade, Windows Vista will open up Direct3D with several forward-looking features that will help programmers create better games and get more performance out of PC hardware.
Microsoft had to rethink its display driver model now that the entire desktop is going 3D. The video card isn’t just for games anymore. When you have a 3D desktop and give each application its own 3D window, the display driver has to be flexible and stable enough to handle the video card’s increased role in the system. Microsoft split up the display driver to increase stability, to ensure that the 3D desktop stays up in the event that a game or another application crashes due to a graphics error. This change also means that Microsoft will not release DirectX 10 for Windows XP, because many of the Direct3D10 improvements will need the new Windows Vista Display Driver Model.
Opening up the video card to more applications will require Vista to give the GPU more system resources and allow applications to share the hardware. The biggest change for game developers will be virtualized memory for the GPU. The video card will now have its own space in system RAM to store information that can’t fit on local video card memory. High-end video cards ship with 256MB or 512MB of memory, but games can still use the extra space in system memory to store large chunks of information, like textures.
Video cards will now have strict feature-set requirements for Direct3D10. A video card must have the full feature set to be DirectX 10 approved. This isn’t a whole lot different from the existing model, in which a card has to have certain features to be DirectX 9.0c or Shader Model 2.0 compliant, but Microsoft has made the specification much more detailed to remove any chance of hardware variation. Differences in how Nvidia and ATI cards handled floating-point precision created extra work for developers in the past, but tighter Direct3D10 specifications will help remove ambiguous areas in hardware design. Having consistent hardware means programmers can avoid spending development time on customizing games for cards that don’t have all the necessary features or have odd implementations.
DirectX 10 will increase game performance by as much as seven to eight times. Much of that will be accomplished with smarter resource management, improving API and driver efficiencies, and moving more work from the CPU to the GPU. “The entire API and pipeline have been redesigned from the ground-up to maximize performance, and minimize CPU and bandwidth overhead,” according to Microsoft. Furthermore, “The idea behind D3D10 is to maximize what the GPU can do without CPU interaction, and when the CPU is needed it’s a fast, streamlined, pipeline-able operation.” Giving the GPU more efficient ways to write and access data will reduce CPU overhead costs by keeping more of the work on the video card.
With Loads of Feature and Shader Model 4 , it is worth watching out for and imagine how games such Unreal Tournament etc will look in DirectX 10 .