Similar to DirectX 10, the software will be available only on Windows Vista and future versions of Microsoft's operating system. DirectX 11 will add new compute shader technology that Microsoft says will allow GPUs to be used "for more than just 3D graphics," allowing developers to utilize video cards as parallel processors.
DirectX 11 will support tessellation, a feature which can potentially assist developers in making models appear smoother when seen up close. Multi-threaded resource handling is also incorporated, making it easier for games to utilize multi-core processors in a user's machine.
Microsoft also disclosed that DirectX 11 will add features to existing DirectX 10-compatible hardware, though it was not immediately clear what those features may be.
A launch date for the new software was not provided, though Microsoft is expected to release more information in the near future. The bullet points, as provided by Microsoft, are listed below.
- Full support (including all DX11 hardware features) on Windows Vista as well as future versions of Windows
- Compatibility with DirectX 10 and 10.1 hardware, as well as support for new DirectX 11 hardware
- New compute shader technology that lays the groundwork for the GPU to be used for more than just 3D graphics, so that developers can take advantage of the graphics card as a parallel processor
- Multi-threaded resource handling that will allow games to better take advantage of multi-core machines
- Support for tessellation, which blurs the line between super high quality pre-rendered scenes and scenes rendered in real-time, allowing game developers to refine models to be smoother and more attractive when seen up close
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