DirectX 12 – High Performance and High Power Savings

You probably know that DirectX 12 is designed for performance.

What you may not know is that the same design decisions that make DirectX 12 so performant also make it incredibly power efficient.  This allows you to play all of your favorite games on portable devices without having an uncomfortably hot device on your lap or as much of a need to carry around a cumbersome power adapter.

Keep reading as Intel shows exactly how significant these benefits are!

Intel’s DirectX 12 Demo

Our friends at Intel created a SIGGRAPH 2014 demo to demonstrate the performance and power benefits of DirectX 12 on the Surface Pro 3 with Intel HD4400 graphics.

Intel’s SIGGRAPH 2014 booth where their DirectX 12 demo is being shown.

The demo renders an asteroid field with 50,000 unique asteroids in it which equates to 50,000 draws per frame.  Each asteroid has a unique combination of vertices, textures, and constants.

The demo can switch between DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 at the press of a button.  It can also lock the frame rate to keep the GPU workload constant.

Overlaid on top of the full-screen demo is a real-time graph of the CPU and GPU power being consumed. 

Over 50% CPU Power Usage Reduction on Surface Pro 3!

To demonstrate the power gains of DirectX 12, Intel locked the framerate of the demo, rendered with DirectX 11 for a period of time and then toggled to DirectX 12 rendering the exact same content for an equal period of time.  The graph below clearly indicates that DirectX 12 CPU power consumption was reduced more than 50% when compared to DirectX 11 rendering the exact same content at the same framerate.  These power savings mean that your device can run longer and cooler!

Intel Asteroids Demo DirectX 12 – Locked FPS

Intel’s Asteroids demo showing the stark power reduction when switching from DirectX 11 to DirectX 12

Graph Close Up

Close up of another CPU/GPU power graph taken during a locked framerate Intel Asteroids demo showing over 50% CPU power usage reduction

Can reduced CPU power consumption lead to increased performance?


With certain applications, reduced power consumption means the device generates less heat and can run even faster!  DirectX 12 can allow the CPU to consume less energy and run cooler allowing the GPU to run hotter and faster.  In some cases, DirectX 12 can take a game that’s otherwise unplayable on DirectX 11 without even increasing the power your device consumes!

Intel was able to demonstrate this by unlocking the framerate cap on their Asteroids demo showing more than a 50% increase in FPS using DirectX 12 without drawing any extra power.

Intel Asteroids Demo DirectX 11 – 19fps

Intel Asteroids Demo DirectX 12 – 33fps

Graph Close Up

Close up of another CPU/GPU power graph taken during an Intel Asteroids demo without framerate lock.  Notice the increased GPU utilization after switching to DirectX 12; this directly translates to an FPS gain.

How does all this work?

The power savings are coming directly from the efficiency improvements that inherently come with using the DirectX 12 API.  Lower level access to the hardware than ever before allows applications to significantly improve their CPU utilization, enabling them to draw extremely complex scenes at a significantly reduced energy cost.

Like the Surface Pro 3, all devices which support DirectX 12 can benefit from DirectX 12 reduced power consumption, either in the form of longer battery life, increased performance, or some combination of the two.

Watch Andrew Lauritzen of Intel explain in more detail here:

Want to see demos (including source code) on your own Intel graphics powered device?  Sign up for the DirectX 12 Early Access Program here and we’ll keep you updated!


DirectX 12 can save more than 50% of CPU power compared to DirectX 11.

When allowed to use equivalent power to DirectX 11, DirectX 12 can also yield 50% better FPS performance.

DirectX 12 can run and show these improvements on a wide variety of devices including Microsoft’s flagship device the Surface Pro 3.

There’s more to come; more demos, more power gains, more performance gains; sign up for the DirectX 12 Early Access Program to keep up to date!

More information

DirectX 12 Early Access Program signup:

Follow us on Twitter: @DirectX12

Intel Gamedev:

Intel blog post:


Comments (21)

  1. Well that's a rigged demo says:

    I mean great, the performance gains are real. But "ideal scenario" comes directly to mind when I see draw call focused DX12 API demoing a scene almost directly bottlenecked by drawcalls.

  2. Daniel K. says:

    Always love to read about new DX progress. When you mention DirectX, do you only mean Direct3D or can we also expect some improvement on technologies based on it like Direct2D/DirectWrite?

    Would love to hear about these technologies as well (our shop did an significant investment in D2D for our main application).

    Thanks in advance


  3. OpenGL NG says:

    Closed proprietary Mantle is finished and dead.

  4. trolldetector says:

    @OpenGL NG

    You wish. Mantle is not closed. And DX is proprietary as well. The difference is, DX will stay proprietary, while Mantle might become an open industry standard one day. Just like OpenGL. Mantle is also multiplatform. DX is Windows only. So, Mantle will continue to exist as the most modern graphics API today. DX cannot replace it completely. Mantle is still better than DX, even DX12.

  5. RedTeamFTW says:

    So basically Intel is admitting that AMD was steering the industry in the right direction with Mantle. Why the hell would you want weaksauce Intel GPU when you can get beatly performance from AMD's GPU's? Intel has 10X the resources of AMD and STILL hasn't been able to offer a GPU worth a damn! Pathetic!

  6. Bull says:


    Tell me when Mantle being 'open' is more then talk and wishful thinking, more than fodder for AMD fans.

  7. OpenGL NG says:

    trolldetector is the dumbest retard ever. No companies is gonna adopt a closed proprietary API controlled by AMD, period.

  8. Alessio T says:

    When will poors developers and students access to a preview of the new SDK?

  9. trolldetector says:

    OpenGL NG is the dumbest retard and biggest AMD hater ever. Mantle is not closed and DX is proprietary as well. AMD didn't develop Mantle just for fun. They developed it because big game companies wanted it. And a lot of companies already adopted Mantle. Closed proprietary crap that nobody wants comes only from Nvidia.

  10. RedTeamFTW says:

    When Autodesk incorporates Mantle support, the incessant whining from the detractors will only get more annoying.  And it is coming,  like it or not.

  11. Intels Evolution says:

    Next year Intel will offer 2 Tflops-GPU for ~50 bucks extra- on the same die as the CPU. Thats how it goes. Will that be enough? Don`T think so, but it seems the times of dedicated graphic-cards will soon be over. Cause this graphics-chip will beat everything we have seen today. 2TFLOPS! in just a 1 square-inch-chip! That is awesome. How does it work? => 128 MB eDRAM is used as graphics-buffer, which has a relatively high bandwith. But yes, this graphics-chip won`t come close to- e.g. an GTX 580 so don`T expect wonders. But the time will come, when there will be 512 MB eDRAM on one chip (quadruple that 128 MB)- and then the dedicated graphic-cards will be a thing of the past.

  12. Christian says:

    What about the xbox one i would like to know about directx 12 Can improve any Way of performance in Playing

    Thank you for you annswer 🙂

  13. Dave Horner says:

    @Daniel K. – agreed there are a lot of moving parts to the directx sdk.  I'm always interested in hearing how the directshow portion gets||lacks love.

    apis that come with drastic (>50%!) cpu power reductions are always exciting to hear about!



  14. Oskar Elek says:

    This is nice, don't get me wrong, but seems largely as marketing move. The presented scenario is very artificial, as 50K draw calls is pretty exorbitant and I doubt any game these days gets even close to that, more like an order of magnitude less.

    This imho basically translates to MS removing a few instructions from the Draw() call, maybe a level of indirection, maybe speeded up memory transfer a bit, and at 50K draw batches this is the result. I think this is supported by the graphs which show savings mainly on the CPU side.

  15. Vertex says:

    Direct2D support is crucial for the industry! So please enable us (Direct2D with Direct3D interop developers) to move on to DirectX12.

  16. mc6809e says:

    50K draw calls might seem like a lot compared to what today's games do, but that's because today's games must run decently with DX11.

    It's hard to know what amazing game didn't get written because of draw call limits.

  17. SG says:

    Surface pro which is down scaled PC hardware to tablet form. This demographic of gamers will eat ios ported games.

    50.000 uniek astroids. The modern GPU have a special feature for that the Testalation unit.

    But much more draw calls means much more uniek objects even unrelated objects.

    Also the merrit might disapear if there is a powerfull CPU in place. Most Game CPU game load are fixed. And intended to run well on mainstream CPU. So if you got better then mainstream. The performance gain might be low. The core PC gamer will largly have a decent CPU. And CPU depending games are rare.

    I expect the same picture as Mantle low spec game rigs gains high,high-end rigs gains very low.

  18. bobfoxx says:

    microsoft got with AMD to create the new DX12. Mantle tech is part of the new DX12.

  19. bob foxx says:

    microsoft got with AMD to create the new DX12..mantle tech is part of DX12.

  20. Andy says:

    does an application have to be written for dx12 to take advantage of the power and gpu perfomance gains, for example a cpu heavy game like company of heroes, would directx12 natively make the game quicker?

  21. Mick says:

    That asteroid field and nebula look fantastic and DX12 performs admirably with it.  Microsoft: Now use it to make us Freelancer 2, already…We've waited long enough.  Get crackin' on it!

Skip to main content