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Dolphin GameCube/Wii emulator sees performance boost with DirectX12 integration

Two months ago, a member of the Dolphin community showed off an unfinished DirectX 12 proof-of-concept for the open-source GameCube and Wii emulator. With the new API implemented, the developer, Dolphin forum user “hdcmeta,” promised a 50-percent performance advantage over DirectX 11.

Apparently, the community member’s revisions to the software were so well regarded that the DX12 support code added by the user, whose real name appears to be Pierre Bourdon, appears to have evolved from a side project to the Dolphin emulator’s latest master build.

Furthermore, a handful of other users on the Dolphin forums were able to confirm that, using a raw frame rate test, DirectX 12 seems to have improved the emulator’s gameplay performance using both Nvidia and AMD GPUs.

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Related: DirectX 12 tests prove AMD and Nvidia is a match made in heaven

While the new DirectX 12 backend for Dolphin is largely based on its predecessor, the system requirements differ. If you’re looking to run bootleg Nintendo games on your PC using Microsoft’s latest API, you’ll need Windows 10, an AMD 7000-series, Intel HD 4400, or Nvidia 600-series GPU or higher, as well as Visual Studio 2015 Redistributable installed on your computer.

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Interestingly enough, hdcmeta even took the time to devise its own background thread so that graphics processing could be carried out manually as opposed to with DirectX11 and OpenGL drivers, where this is accomplished automatically.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the DirectX 12 backend for Dolphin is far from complete. The developer is continuing to work on the project, with post-release compatibility and bug fixes already well on their way.

It’s pretty neat, if a little alarming, that one of the first examples of DirectX 12 support out in the wild is for a program that’s almost entirely used as a means of piracy. On the other hand, maybe this is a good thing. It is likely we’ll begin to see other, less legally nebulous projects emerge to adopt the DX12 API in a similar vein.

Nevertheless, it’s always a treat to see what Super Mario Galaxy would look like had Nintendo made the move to HD at the same time as everyone else.