Much has been made about the new gaming features in Windows 10 and DirectX 12 that comes with it, however, there is a feature under the hood that could be a nice, free boost to gamers out there.
Every gamer knows that if you want the best experience in a game that you need to have the best graphics that you can afford. This is usually achieved through a discrete card from the likes of nVidia and AMD, despite the fact that many systems these days have built in graphics of some kind or other.
“By offloading some of the postprocessing work to a second GPU, the first GPU is freed up to start on the next frame improving your overall framerate”
Whereas in the past no gamer would rely on system integrated graphics, a new API in DirectX 12 could make use of those up until now unused chips to help the screen performance. This feature, called Multiadapter, will mean that games can take advantage of multiple GPUs in a similar way that technologies such as Crossfire and SLI do already. In fact Multiadapter supports both of those standards together with any onboard graphics.
Whereas for Crossfire and SLI to work the two cards had to be the same, with Multiadapter that isn’t the case. When properly implemented the technology will allow the system to send unique information to each adapter to provide some extra grunt to the graphics delivery.
In fact Multiadapter works in two ways: implicit and explicit. Implicit works in much the same way as in previous version of DirectX where the API will deal with alternate rendering of frames across any GPUs that are linked with SLI or Crossfire. Explicit is where things get a little different. If the system has linked GPUs (SLI etc.) then the system will see them as just one GPU so that they can work together in a more effective way; sharing resources in the relevant pipelines.
It’s with unlinked Multiadapter that things get very interesting as this is where the system can work with different brands and types of GPU, such as onboard and discrete. The best thing is that you are getting extra performance from your system without having to spend any more money.
This was explained in a blog post by Microsoft: “Virtually every game out there makes use of postprocessing to make your favorite games visually impressive; but that postprocessing work doesn’t come free. By offloading some of the postprocessing work to a second GPU, the first GPU is freed up to start on the next frame before it would have otherwise been able to improving your overall framerate.”
This may all sound simple enough, however, there is a big caveat. In order for this to work the API needs to be supported by the games you play. This will undoubtedly come, just as support for multiple cores and technologies such as hyper-threading came over time. – Henry Tucker (@tuckski)