Skip to main content

This new GPU feature is ‘a whole new paradigm’ for PC gaming

RX 7900 XTX slotted into a test bench.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Microsoft has released its Agility SDK 1.613.0, which features some critical components that will be shown to developers at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco next week. The most interesting component is Work Graphs, which Microsoft describes as “a whole new paradigm” for graphics cards.

Work Graphs enable GPU-driven work. Normally when you’re playing a PC game, there’s a relationship between your GPU and CPU. Your CPU gets work ready and sends it to your GPU, and then your GPU executes that work. Work Graphs is an approach that allows your GPU to schedule and execute its own tasks, which has some massive implications for performance.

Work Graphs API: First Look At Performance Of DirectX 12's Latest Feature

You can see an early demonstration of that in the video above. The side-by-side comparison offers nearly identical performance, but around the 1:20 mark, you can see how the Work Graphs version shoots ahead. This is the first version of Work Graphs, so the fact that we’re already seeing such a stark improvement in certain scenes in huge.

It’s easy to think about game rendering in a linear way, but GPUs handle a lot of tasks in parallel. Rendering a final scene is complex, so your graphics card is handling several different tasks at the same time. Work Graphs is more efficient, allowing threads to move on to other tasks without waiting for more work from the CPU. Add these efficiencies up over a complex scene, and it can have a sizable impact on performance, as shown by the first public demo.

Get your weekly teardown of the tech behind PC gaming
Check your inbox!

In complex scenes that would normally expose a CPU bottleneck, Work Graphs can maintain high performance. This hopefully will mean that games like Starfield that rely heavily on the CPU will maintain a high frame rate in complex areas like New Atlantis.

Work Graphs are just now being introduced to developers, so it will be some time before we see the improvements in games. This is a feature tailored toward developers, so it’s not something you’ll see in a graphics menu. Hopefully, it means that PC games will come out of the gate with better performance.

Currently, Work Graphs are supported on Nvidia RTX 30-series and 40-series GPUs, as well as AMD RDNA 3 GPUs. There isn’t support for older cards or Intel GPUs yet.

Editors' Recommendations

Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
There’s an unexpected, new competitor in PC gaming
Snapdragon's X Elite PC SoC.

Windows gaming on ARM is becoming a legitimate possibility, and it's not just thanks to the recently unveiled emulation options, but it's chiefly due to the fact that Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite is shaping up to be pretty excellent. Spotted in a recent benchmark, the CPU was seen beating some of the best processors on the current market. Are we finally at a point where it's not always going to be a choice between just Intel and AMD?

The benchmarks were posted by user @techinmul on Twitter, and the results couldn't be more promising for the upcoming Qualcomm processor. The chip was tested in Geekbench 6, and although it's important not to take these results entirely at face value, it's an impressive show of performance that bodes well for upcoming thin and light laptops.

Read more
I’ve reviewed every AMD and Nvidia GPU this generation — here’s how the two companies stack up
Three graphics cards on a gray background.

Nvidia and AMD make the best graphics cards you can buy, but choosing between them isn't easy. Unlike previous generations, AMD and Nvidia trade blows point-for-point in 2024, and picking a brand to go with isn't as easy as counting the dollars in your wallet.

I've reviewed every graphics card AMD and Nvidia have released this generation, comparing not only raw performance, but also features like DLSS and FSR, ray tracing performance, and how VRAM works in modern games. After dozens of graphics card reviews, here's how AMD and Nvidia stack up against each other in 2024.
Nvidia vs. AMD in 2024

Read more
Don’t buy a cheap GPU in 2024
AMD RX 7600 on a pink background.

I wouldn't spend less than $500 on a new graphics card in 2024. I understand that budget is out of the question for many PC gamers, and I'm not advocating for higher GPU prices going forward. But with the games available today, it just doesn't make sense to settle for a budget GPU that will struggle the moment you take it out of the box.

We got a taste of the problem last year with games like The Last of Us Part One, Resident Evil 4, and Hogwarts Legacy, and the issue is cropping back up again with Horizon Forbidden West. I'm talking about VRAM in modern GPUs. At this point, you're much better off saving up for a more expensive GPU, waiting until the next generation arrives, or digging deep on last-gen options.
Why are you buying a new GPU?
If you pay attention to PC hardware reviews -- particularly the YouTube megamind of reviewers -- you probably already have a sour taste in your mouth for 8GB graphics cards. I get it. I don't agree that 8GB GPUs are completely obsolete, however.

Read more