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Is this better than real life? Microsoft claims DX12 can make it happen

microsoft direct 12 high dynamic range colors hdrba
Mermaid-en/Deviantart
Microsoft has talked up its new DirectX12 API a lot in the past couple of months, using the likes of Ashes of the Singularity to showcase its additional draw-cell capabilities, and extolling the much improved benefits of multi-GPU setups under the new standard. However, one of the biggest advantages of DX12 could be its focus on High Dynamic Range (HDR), which could take us beyond photo-realism in short order.

The details about what Microsoft is doing with HDR and DirectX12 were spilled at this year’s Games Developer Conference. In its technical discussion of the technology, it highlighted how with HDR, developers would be able to have very different types of lighting and reflections based on the surface reflection and the light source itself.

DX12 is capable of showing clear differences between fluorescent colors and specular highlights — which could mean more realistic indoor environments, better explosions, and more varied light sources (as per Winbeta).

Related: AMD could steal the performance crown in DirectX12

All of this means more realistic games, and Microsoft went so far as to say on one slide that it thought it would take us “beyond” photo realism before long. While this might seem an excessive claim, it is indeed doable. Photographs that have received HDR post-processing often look unreal in how deep and varied the colors can be.

And it’s those sorts of unbelievable and fantastical environments and games we might get to see in the near future thanks to DirectX 12.

In the shorter term though, it will mean prettier sparks and particle effects and better ways for directing user attention to certain parts of an environment, or better highlighting of important parts of the user interface.

Really though, HDR is just one more feather in DirectX12’s cap, and with all of its other benefits, it’s a very exciting time to be a PC gamer. Now if we could get our hands on some Pascal/Polaris hardware to power it, we’d be golden.

If you don’t have a DX12 compatible GPU at the moment, are you planning on upgrading later this year?

Jon Martindale
Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
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