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Next-Generation Gaming with AMD RDNA 2 and DirectX 12 Ultimate

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AMD and DirectX 12 Ultimate blog banner.jpg

Earlier this year we told you that in partnership with Microsoft we will provide full support for DirectX 12 Ultimate in the AMD RDNA 2 gaming architecture. Now with AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series graphics cards powered by AMD RDNA 2, our support for Microsoft’s latest gaming API enables features that will deliver the next generation of gaming experiences to players everywhere.

“AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series graphics deliver impressive support of the full DirectX 12 Ultimate feature set and the upcoming DirectStorage API, offering great potential for game developers to create incredible gaming experiences for all AMD RDNA 2 architecture-based products"
- Bryan Langley, Graphics Group Program Manager, Microsoft

DirectX 12 Ultimate is Microsoft’s most advanced DirectX feature set yet and gives game developers the power to deliver next-level visuals on AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series graphics cards and the Xbox Series X, which is also powered by AMD RDNA 2 architecture.

AMD DirectX 12 Ultimate feature icons.jpg

The four key features of DX12 Ultimate are DirectX Raytracing (DXR), Variable Rate Shading (VRS), Mesh Shaders, and Sampler Feedback and in this blog, we’ll highlight and go into more detail about each feature for both gamers and developers.


AMD “Hangar 21” DirectX 12 Ultimate and AMD FidelityFX Tech Demo

Before we dive into DX12 Ultimate features though, you should check out our AMD RDNA 2 architecture-powered “Hangar 21” Technology demo that showcases how combining the power of DirectX 12 Ultimate with AMD FidelityFX (our open-source image quality toolkit) will enable truly next-generation visuals.

Watch the non-annotated version

This demo shows off how using multiple methods can achieve the perfect balance of visual fidelity to performance. Rasterization, FidelityFX compute effects, and DirectX 12 Ultimate intelligently combined will create the mind-blowing visuals of tomorrow’s games.


DirectX Raytracing

For Gamers

The first DX12 Ultimate feature is DirectX Raytracing (DXR) which lets gamers experience photorealistic games through ray-traced effects like shadows, reflections, and global illumination. These effects can all be delivered at real-time framerates on AMD Radeon RX 6000 graphics cards thanks to the hardware-accelerated raytracing support in the AMD RDNA 2 architecture.

As you can see from the example above from the upcoming game The Riftbreaker, DXR enables dynamic, realistic, and immersive shadows in games that wouldn’t be possible with traditional rasterized effects.

Similarly, the realistic DXR ray-traced reflections shown above from our “Hangar 21” tech demo, when intelligently combined with effects like AMD FidelityFX Screen Space Reflections, add new levels of realism to the latest games.

For Developers

Game developers can take advantage of AMD RDNA 2 support for DirectX 12 Ultimate and the latest update to DXR, DirectX Raytracing 1.1. This update allows developers to access a new programming model for hardware acceleration of raytracing on the GPU, letting them add optimized ray-traced effects to their games.

The video presentation above by AMD Graphics Feature Architect Rys Sommefeldt details the benefits of DXR 1.1 for developers and how to utilize it on AMD RDNA 2 architecture hardware like the AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series.

It also covers the addition of DirectX Raytracing support to the Radeon GPU Profiler (RGP) tool (now part of the Radeon Developer Tool Suite) and how important denoising is to achieving good raytracing performance, something our new AMD FidelityFX Denoiser can help with.


Variable Rate Shading

For Gamers

The second DX12 Ultimate feature is Variable Rate Shading (VRS) that is designed to help boost performance by allowing games to intelligently prioritize the rendering power for the visual areas that matter most. VRS is hardware supported on AMD RDNA 2 architecture graphics cards such as the AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series.

To make it easier for game developers to add VRS to their games, we’ve released our AMD FidelityFX Variable Shading effect that analyzes the luminance and motion of frames to help optimize rendering for the best performance without lowering the image quality. The example above shows a developer view overlay demonstrating where the shading rate is reduced to improve performance.

FidelityFX Variable Shading is already being used in the latest DirectX 12 Ultimate games, such as the recently released DIRT 5, and will also be used in the upcoming The Riftbreaker.

For Developers

Variable Rate Shading (VRS) allows game developers to reduce time spent in pixel shader-heavy render passes by lowering the number of pixel shader threads that need to get launched in the frame, optimizing and boosting performance.

In the video presentation above, AMD Engineer Stephan Hodes goes over how VRS works and how AMD FidelityFX Variable Shading can help game developers integrate VRS into their games.


Mesh Shaders and Sampler Feedback

For Gamers

The last two features of DirectX 12 Ultimate are Mesh Shader and Sampler Feedback, both designed to give help game developers create more realistic and immersive game worlds filled with high-resolution textures and details.

Mesh Shaders will bring the general compute power of AMD RDNA 2 architecture to the geometry pipeline allowing AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series graphics cards to render exponentially more complex scenes in the games of tomorrow. 

Sampler Feedback can shorten loading times and reduce hitching in texture streaming scenarios by providing previously-hidden information that game developers can use to only load texture data when needed.

For Developers

Mesh Shaders and Sampler Feedback are two key DX12 Ultimate features that provide more flexibility in how texture and geometry data are processed by the GPU, enabling novel techniques to be implemented.

AMD Engineer Colin Riley details both features for developers in the video above and provides important performance guidelines that should be considered when using them with AMD RDNA 2 architecture-based based graphics cards.


Featured DirectX 12 Ultimate Games

As part of our AMD Radeon™ RX 6000 Series launch, we are showcasing five games adopting DirectX 12 Ultimate features from our valued partners -- both already available and upcoming titles. DIRT 5, Godfall, and World of Warcraft: Shadowlands are available now and The Riftbreaker and Far Cry 6 are upcoming titles.

AMD Radeon RX 6000 partner games with DX12 Ultimate & FidelityFX.jpg

All five games feature both DirectX 12 Ultimate and AMD FidelityFX effects that enable realistic lighting, shadows, and reflections along with new levels of detail for truly next-generation gaming experiences and you can see exactly which effects each game is implementing in the image above.






Alexander Blake-Davies is a Software Product Marketing Specialist for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies, or opinions. Links to third-party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied. GD-5


  1. AMD FreeSync™ technology requires AMD Radeon™ graphics and a display that supports FreeSync technology as certified by AMD. AMD FreeSync™ Premium technology adds requirements of mandatory low framerate compensation and at least 120 Hz refresh rate at minimum FHD. AMD FreeSync™ Premium Pro technology adds requirements for the display to meet AMD FreeSync Premium Pro compliance tests. See for complete details. Confirm capability with your system manufacturer before purchase. GD-127


© 2020 The Codemasters Software Company Limited ("Codemasters"). All rights reserved. "Codemasters"®, “EGO”®, the Codemasters logo, and “DIRT”® are registered trademarks owned by Codemasters. “DIRT 5”™ and “RaceNet”™ are trademarks of Codemasters. All rights reserved. All other copyrights or trademarks are the property of their respective owners and are being used under license. Developed and published by Codemasters.

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