DirectX 12 vs. DirectX 11

Now that we’ve had the chance to look at DirecX 12 performance, let’s take a look at things with DirectX 11 thrown into the mix. As a reminder, while the two rendering paths are graphically identical, the DirectX 12 path introduces the latter’s multi-core scalability along with asynchronous shading functionality. The game and the underlying Nitrous engine is designed to take advantage of both, but particularly the multi-core functionality as the game pushes some very high batch counts.

Ashes of the Singularity (Beta) - High Quality - DirectX 11 vs. DirectX 12

Given that we had never benchmarked Ashes under DirectX 11 before, what we had been expecting was a significant performance regression when switching to it. Instead what we found was far more surprising.

On the RTG side of matters, there is a large performance gap between DX11 and DX12 at all resolutions, increasing with the overall performance of the video card being tested. Even on the R9 290X and the 7970, using DX12 is a no brainer, as it improves performance by 20% or more.

The big surprise however is with the NVIDIA cards. For the more powerful GTX 980 Ti and GTX 780 Ti, NVIDIA doesn’t gain anything from the DX12 rendering path; in fact they lose a percent or two in performance. This means that they have very good performance under DX11 (particular the GTX 980 Ti), but it’s not doing them any favors under DX12, where as we’ve seen RTG has a rather consistent performance lead. In the past NVIDIA has gone through some pretty extreme lengths to optimize the CPU usage of their DX11 driver, so this may be the payoff from general optimizations, or even a round of Ashes-specific optimizations.

Ashes of the Singularity (Beta) - High Quality 1920x1080 - DirectX 12 Perf. Gain

Breaking down the gains on a percentage basis at 1080p, the most CPU-demanding resolution, we find that the Fury X picks up a full 50% from DX12, followed by 29% and 23% for the R9 290X and 7970 respectively. Meanwhile at the opposite end of the spectrum are the GTX 980 Ti and GTX 780 Ti, who lose 1% and 3% respectively.

Finally, right in the middle of all of this is the GTX 680. Given what happens to the architecturally similar GTX 780 Ti, this may be a case of GPU memory limitations (this is the only 2GB NVIDIA card in this set), as there’s otherwise no reason to expect the weakest NVIDIA GPU to benefit the most from DX12.

Overall then this neatly illustrates why RTG in particular has been so gung-ho about DX12, as Ashes’ DX12 path has netted them a very significant increase in performance. To some degree however what this means is a glass half full/half empty full situation; RTG gains so much from DX12 in large part because of their poorer DX11 performance (especially on the faster cards), but on the other hand a “simple” API change has unlocked a great deal of GPU power that wasn’t otherwise being used and vaulted them well into the lead. As for NVIDIA, is it that their cards don’t benefit from DX12, or is it that their DX11 driver stack is that good to begin with? At the end of the day Ashes is just a single game – and a beta game at that – but it will be interesting to see if this is a one-off situation or if it becomes recurring.

DirectX 12 Multi-GPU Performance The Performance Impact of Asynchronous Shading
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  • rarson - Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - link

    Yeah, because people who bought a 980 Ti are already looking to replace them...
  • Aspiring Techie - Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - link

    I'm pretty sure that Nvidia's Pascal cards will be optimized for DX12. Still, this gives AMD a slight advantage, which they need pretty badly now.
  • testbug00 - Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - link

    Pascal is more of the same as Maxwell when it comes to gaming.
  • Mondozai - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    Pascal is heavily compute-oriented, which will affect how the gaming lineup arch will be built. Do your homework.
  • testbug00 - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    Sorry, Maxwell already can support packed FP16 operations at 2x the rate of FP32 with X1.
    The rat of compute will be pretty much exclusive to GP100. Like how Kepler had a gaming line and GK110 for compute.
  • MattKa - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    I'd like to borrow your crystal ball...

    You lying sack of shit. Stop making things up you retarded ass face.
  • testbug00 - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    What does Pascal have over Maxwell according to Nvidia again? Bolted on FP64 units?
  • CiccioB - Sunday, February 28, 2016 - link

    I have not read anything about Pascal from nvidia outside the FP16 capabilities that are HPC oriented (deep learning).
    Where have you read anything about how Pascal cores/SMX/cache and memory controller are organized? Are they still using crossbar or they finally passed to a ring bus? Are caches bigger or faster? What are the ratio of cores/ROPs/TMUs? How much bandwidth for each core? How much has the compressed memory technology improved? Have cores doubled the ALUs or they have made more independent core? How much independent? Is the HW scheduler now able to preempt the graphics thread or it still can't? How many threads can it support? Is the Voxel support better and able to be used heavily in scenes to make global illumination quality difference?

    I have not read anything about this points. Have you some more info about them?
    Because what I could see is that at a first glance even Maxwell was not really different than Kepler. But in reality the performance were quite different in many ways.

    I think you really do not know anything about what you are talking about,.
    You are just expressing your desire and hopes like any other fanboy as a mirror of the frustration you have suffered all these years with the less capable AMD architecture you have been using up to now. You just hop nvidia has stopped and AMD finally made a step forward. It may be you are right. But you can't say now, nor I would going telling such stupid thing you were saying without anything as a fact.
  • anubis44 - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    I think nVidia's been caught with their pants down, and Pascal doesn't have hardware schedulers to perform async compute, either. It may be that AMD has seriously beaten them this time.
  • anubis44 - Thursday, February 25, 2016 - link

    nVidia wasn't expecting AMD to force Microsoft's hand and release DX12 so soon. I have a feeling Pascal, like Maxwell, doesn't have hardware schedulers, either. It's beginning to look like nVidia's been check-mated by AMD here.

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