Microsoft’s DirectX 11: Coming Soon to a PC Near You
By: Ryan Popke, CIO Solutions
With the launch of Windows 7 we are seeing Microsoft’s latest API (Application Programming Interfaces): DirectX 11. In this article I will discuss what new features DX11 adds to the Windows 7 experience, as well as a new product that uses DX11. All Windows 7 installs come with Microsoft’s DirectX11 capability as a standard feature. To utilize this feature, the user must have a DirectX11 compatible graphics card installed.
Running Windows 7 and a DX11 graphics card will run programs faster and give the user a better experience. After shopping online, I found that even some of the lowest cost desktops could run Windows 7 and a DX11 graphics card. What this means is that even the most frugal PC shopper will be able to benefit from all of these new features.
Here is a short list of the new features you can expect with DX11 on Windows 7:
1. It uses much less system memory regardless of how many windows you have opened. However, GPU memory will still be consumed (so close those windows before playing games).
2. Better display scaling: this is apparent when you have a projector hooked up to your widescreen laptop.
3. Multithreading support: this means DX11 functions will support multi-core processors.
4. Introduces Direct2D for hardware accelerated 2D. It is designed to be fast and provide high quality 2D graphics. Basically, it’s a more efficient way of rendering your average office programs.
5. Tessellation – This takes a polygon and breaks it up into even more polygons. This allows for smoother looking curves and higher detail. This is the important part for the gamers out there.
Now I will focus on the hardware side of DX11. Currently there is only one manufacturer of DirectX 11 graphics cards, ATI. They have been producing graphics cards since 1987 and today they are on the leading edge of technology. On September 23 they released the 5800 series of cards in preparation for the Windows 7 launch. I will be highlighting one of the key features of these new cards: ATI Eyefinity (http://www.amd.com/us/products/technologies/eyefinity/Pages/eyefinity.aspx).
Eyefinity will allow you to combine up to 6 monitors into one large display. ATI’s new graphics cards will let you add this ability to any computer that will accept the card. With Add-on cards starting at around $150, it has never been easier to achieve a multi-monitor setup.
Here are a few examples of popular configurations:
As you can see this can give you quite a lot of desktop space. Quite a few of us at CIO have multiple monitors at our desks and the increase in productivity is worth the investment. If you look at our website you will see a nice picture of Mike Shinn at his Central Support station. 4 monitors! Nice! (www.ciosolutions.com)
Here is a screenshot of my current home PC setup with 3 monitors. It allows me to open 6 full sized web pages. It’s great for multitasking or doing research for articles such as this.
DirectX 11 is not all about the workplace though. PC gaming is a main focus of ATI and new games that use DX11 are in the works and scheduled for release before the end of the year. Here is a screenshot of a game played on 3 monitors.
Microsoft’s DirectX 11 and Windows 7: Coming soon to a PC near you. With the launch of Windows 7 just about all new PC’s and laptops will have this new operating system pre-installed, and you can add in the new ATI graphics card for multi-monitor productivity and an enhanced graphic experience.
If you have any questions on this or any other feature of Windows 7 please feel free to call us with any questions, 805-692-6700 .