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Volunteer Moderator

New DirectX 12 Feature Eliminates CPU Bottleneck in Game Rendering

A more powerful GPU usually means your games run better, but that's not always the case. The CPU's role in tasks and scheduling can bottleneck performance in some instances. Microsoft has been testing a new feature of DirectX 12 called Work Graphs that could fix that, and it's official in the latest DirectX release.

Traditionally, the CPU has to "guess" what allocations the GPU will need, and it doesn't always guess correctly. It might over-allocate, forcing the GPU to drop unnecessary threads. The result is that even moderately powerful CPUs can become bogged down, which wastes GPU capacity. In such a situation, swapping in the most powerful GPU in the world wouldn't make a game run any better. Work Graphs aim to make the GPU more autonomous so it can feed itself work orders and reduce the number of round trips to the CPU.

With Work Graphs, game developers can streamline the producer-consumer pipelines, which effectively moves heavy workloads from the CPU to the GPU. Under this system, a thread running on the GPU (a producer) can log a request for other work to be run (a consumer). The work will be scheduled by the GPU as soon as there is capacity, and that eventual thread can also become a consumer if necessary. This way, work can be passed along between nodes without returning to the CPU every time.

Microsoft explains that Work Graphs can be seen as a way to "capture the user’s algorithmic intent." The developer doesn't need to know too much about the hardware on which a game will run because the system is more dynamic, responding to real-time to execute work efficiently. The specifics are, of course, highly technical. If you're interested, Microsoft and Nvidia have developer-focused rundowns of Work Graphs in DirectX 12. For gamers, this process will be completely transparent.

Work Graphs could give older gaming systems a new lease on life. Many gaming laptops ship with modest CPUs alongside the latest GPU silicon. By running more work on the GPU, these machines will stay faster for longer. Swapping the CPU on desktop systems is more involved than changing out a GPU. With Work Graphs, you can keep an older CPU and get all the performance benefits of a new GPU.

It's up to developers to build Work Graphs into games, so this DirectX update isn't going to boost performance across all your games instantly. You'll also need a relatively modern GPU to take advantage of Work Graphs. Nvidia says this feature works on Ampere (RTX 30) and Ada Lovelace-based (RTX 40) video cards. On the AMD side, support is limited to the Radeon RX 7000 series.


As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".
3 Replies
Volunteer Moderator

This is really interesting. I will keep an eye on it to see if it is eventually worked into the games I typically play. 

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Adept II

Is it going to be something more relevant than DirectStorage for example? 😉

Volunteer Moderator

Remember the days when you actually had to go and manually download the Directx versions? Glad that is not the case anymore. 

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