A User Perspective for DirectX
Direct3D technologies have long been the backbone of serious graphics rendering on the Windows platform. Microsoft recognizes that video games are the third most common use for the PC, and so developed Vista with game programming and game centric functionality in mind.
Direct3D 10 provides amazing new graphics on Windows Vista®. Rewritten from the ground up, it provides a major step forward from Direct3D 9. By starting from scratch, Direct3D 10 is able to include large number of new features that developers have been demanding while providing fundamental rendering speed benefits that could only be accomplished by massively changing the architecture. Future game development should be programmed against Direct3D 10 on a Windows Vista computer to leverage all the advantages with the new chipset and development capability in Windows Vista. However, games developed with Direct3D 10 will only run on Windows Vista systems. Additionally, Direct3D 10 compliant hardware is required to run Direct3D 10 games.
Direct3D 10: Unprecedented Performance
Direct3D 10's new geometry shader allows more processing to take place on the graphics processor, allowing for some spectacular effects.
This image is from "Crysis," a PC game using Direct3D 10. It demonstrates the incredible realism possible.
Direct3D 10 allows for more lifelike characters through realistic self shadowing, reflective eyes and skinning on the graphics processor.
The image below and to the shows a normal mapped fish in Direct3D 9. The picture on the right demonstrates a Direct3D 10 displacement mapping technique that modifies the actual geometry of the fish. Notice the pronounced ridges on the fish and the way that the ridges can protrude beyond the silhouette creating an unprecedented amount of detail.
Direct3D 9 allowed for interesting lighting illusions using texture data as demonstrated in the normal mapped fish to the left. Now with Direct3D 10, model geometry itself can be modified by textures.
The image below depicts the shadow volume technique in Direct3D 10.
Direct3D 10 is great for techniques like generating shadow volumes in the GPU. Detailed shadows are a must for creating realism in future games.
The following pictures depict a Direct3D 10 sample that demonstrates generating vines using the new DirectX geometry shader.
Geometry generated in the graphics pipeline can allow a game to 'grow' hair, fur and vegetation.
The next image depicts motion blurring in Direct3D 10.
Motion blurring is another interesting effect that Direct3D 10 can quickly generate in the GPU.
The following illustration is a screenshot of a sample demonstrating the low overhead of instancing in Direct3D 10.
Direct3D 10 instancing is much faster than ever before allowing for realistic real-time grass and vegetation effects.
The following two images demonstrate a Direct3D 10 predicated rendering technique.
New Direct3D 10 features allow for predicated rendering which allows the graphics processor to make decisions about when an object does not need to be rendered because it is hidden by other geometry. When the bounding box of the geometry is completely behind the foreground boxes, its contents are not drawn saving valuable GPU resources.
The next image depicts a volumetric particle effect.
Graphics processor volumetric particle effects allow for realistic smoke and clouds.
All of these effects and more can all be accomplished using the graphics processor with the new Direct3D 10 programmable graphics pipeline. This reroutes the bulk of graphics processing away from the CPU reducing its load and freeing it up for other game-related processing tasks such as AI and physics.
(Thanks to the Windows Vista Team Blog: http://blogs.technet.com/windowsvista/articles/447226.aspx, CryTek, Shanon Drone and the DirectX Sample Team for the screenshots.)
Direct3D 9Ex: Direct3D 9 with Vista Features
Vista comes with a new version of Direct3D 9 called Direct3D 9Ex. This version of DirectX adds a number of features that allow a better integration with Vista
Direct3D 9Ex is also the foundation of hardware graphics rendering in the Windows Presentation Framework allowing for eye-popping effects in applications throughout Vista.
Direct3D 9: Legacy Compatibility
Legacy applications still run on Vista using Direct3D 9. Vista mimics the behavior of older Windows operating systems when running applications that rely on Direct3D 9 to provide this compatibility.