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Microsoft introduces DirectX 12 feature level 12_2

by Mark Tyson on 28 August 2020, 10:11


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Microsoft has posted a new entry on its developers' blog about the introduction of DirectX 12 feature level 12_2. Before going on to describe what level 12_2 brings to the table, it refreshes readers on what feature levels are, and why new feature levels are good. In brief, the feature levels provide reference points to hardware capabilities, so they allow streamlining of application code. Importantly successive feature levels are supersets of those that have come before, so feature level 12_2 includes all the capabilities of 12_1 and all that came before.

A quartet of 'big ticket' additions debut in DirectX 12 feature level 12_2, which Microsoft calls "huge". Whether that is the case I will leave to your judgement but you will indeed see a bit of graphical buzz word bingo below:

  • DirectX raytracing
  • Mesh shaders
  • Variable rate shading
  • Sampler feedback

The above by no means the only new features in this update and you can check out the dev blog for listings of other new features and links to dig further into each, with feature specs available too.

A useful FAQ is tacked onto the end of Microsoft's blog that highlights a number of important things. First of all it is noted that feature level 12_2 is exclusive to Direct3D 12. While its predecessor worked with Direct3D 11 this isn't possible with the new level due to the 'big-ticket' additions.

You may be wondering what existing / future graphics cards support feature level 12_2? Microsoft makes the support clear in the bullet points reproduced below - and even Qualcomm Snapdragon platforms will support it in the future.

  • Feature level 12_2 is supported on Nvidia GeForce RTX and Quadro RTX GPUs.
  • AMD’s upcoming RDNA 2 architecture based GPUs will include full feature level 12_2 support.
  • Intel’s roadmap includes discrete GPUs that will empower developers to take full advantage of Feature Level 12_2.
  • Microsoft is collaborating with Qualcomm to bring the benefits of DirectX feature level 12_2 to Snapdragon platforms.

Of the above only the green team's wares support feature level 12_2 and are currently available for users to purchase.

HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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DX12 has been very disappointing so far. I don't know how it is on the developer side of things but for the consumer nothing good has came from DX12
OK, I'm a nerd. I take an interest in these things, but I'm confused. Back in the day, you bought a DirectX 9 compatible card, and it ran DirectX 9 games (OK, slightly fudged by DX9b and DX9C being shader 2 and 3, but hey!). Same went for DX10 and DX11 cards and software.

With DirectX12, are the feaure levels purely “nice to have, but it will run”? For instance (actual performance and FPS aside for a sec), I have a geforce 450 Fermi card. Originally released for DX11, but then given driver support for DX12 (with feature set 11_0). It is therefore theoretically DX12 compatible (albeit 12_0). Does this mean that a game released for DX12, using the new 12_2 feature set will be backwards compatible with all DX12 devices, just with some of the fancy stuff turned off? Or is 12_0, 12_1 and 12_2 actual different implementations of DX, which back in the day would have had a new number, but these days MS doesn't change the numbers anymore (ie like Windows 10 probably going on for the foreseeable future with version updates)?
I think 9C is a good equivalent, as you point out 9C was huge and there wasn't a fallback if you didn't have shader model 3, developers had to code fallbacks specifically.

12_2 is a similar leap and there are fallbacks for most of the features - VRS and Sampler feedback will be optional performance gains, Mesh shaders can fall back to geometry/vertex shading (with a performance hit) and RT can be done in existing shaders, but it's too slow to be workable. But then again it's hardly fast even with acceleration so developers will have non-RT options for some time yet.
“DirectX 12 feature level 12_2, which Microsoft calls ”huge“”

Uses DX11 on flight simulator 2020…
With more of these features being included in DirectX we should see more games supporting them. The real question is how long do we need to wait before these are really being used. Remember that a lot of PC gamers still have old hardware that won't support this.