AMD Complains about DirectX

If you have ever wondered why graphics on consoles look better than most PC graphics, AMD has an answer for you: DirectX. AMD worldwide developer relations manager Richard Huddy blames Microsoft’s SDK for not being able to utilize the horsepower of today’s graphics processors.

"It’s funny," says Huddy. "We often have at least ten times as much horsepower as an Xbox 360 or a PS3 in a high-end graphics card, yet it’s very clear that the games don’t look ten times as good. To a significant extent, that’s because, one way or another, for good reasons and bad – mostly good, DirectX is getting in the way."

Huddy adds that developers often ask him to make that API just go away.

"I certainly hear this in my conversations with games developers and I guess it was actually the primary appeal of Larrabee to developers – not the hardware, which was hot and slow and unimpressive, but the software – being able to have total control over the machine, which is what the very best games developers want. By giving you access to the hardware at the very low level, you give games developers a chance to innovate, and that’s going to put pressure on Microsoft – no doubt at all."

Many developers apparently feel that, while there are certainly a lot of advantages to using a standard 3D API when developing games and applications, the trade-offs in performance are not always worth it.

Source: Bit-Tech by way of Blue’s News

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  1. Thad says:

    …well of course AMD blames it on MS; they’re not about to blame it on themselves.

    Which is all well and good, but AMD is most definitely to blame for the terrible state of Radeon drivers for Linux.

  2. Thad says:

    To save the young’uns the trouble of Googling it:

    There was a Lion King game released for Windows 3.1 back in ’94.  It used an early graphics API called WinG — which didn’t work on Presarios (and had issues on a bunch of other hardware).  There was some considerable hue and cry over it, and the end result was DirectX, which was designed to maintain compatibility across a variety of hardware.

  3. axiomatic says:

    More importantly what DirectX version are we talking about here? DX9 is pretty weak compared to DX10 and DX 11 however most games still only utilize DX9 or DX10 at best. Only the top tier games ever hit DX11.

  4. sirdarkat says:

    I’m amazed no one has pointed out that most of the developers are lazy … For one I’m still amazed that most games default to directx 9 (in many cases only use directx 9) …which says to me hey even when I switch to directx 10/11 I doubt they actually took the time to code this game to use the full capabilities of the new version.

    Next off many games on the PC are Console Ports … not the other way around … so yeah the graphics don’t look better than the Console cause ummm you were lazy and just ported the damn thing … (yes I know games are created on PCs first but when you create the game for a console and than just compile the same console version for a PC its a port to PC imo) 



  5. Papa Midnight says:

    Indeed. It’s not even a fair fight in terms of pure power:power comparison, CPU, GPU or otherwise. I’m willing to bet my sightly dated (in computing relative terms) gaming laptop could do laps around the present generation of consoles. Hell, it’s certainly capable of emulating a PS2 without issue using PCSX2 (which, let me tell you, is no small feat and was an utter pain).

    Papa Midnight

  6. Chris Kimberley says:

    And believe it or not your PC probably has at least 5 times the power of your XBox.  Twice as good isn’t such a success when considered in those terms.


    Chris Kimberley

  7. Left4Dead says:

    "I play primarily on consoles but only because I got sick of upgrading my PC constantly"

    I built an Intel quad-core gaming computer a couple years ago.  Building your own rig is half the cost of Dell/HP/whatever AND you can easily get higher quality parts for the build.  Cost me $1,200 at the time and played Crysis just fine with only a few framerate issues during the last scene.  Now $1,200 will get a sweet i7 gaming rig.  Since then I haven’t run into any games yet that challenge my hardware to the level I need to upgrade.  And I can run most games at maximum settings and barely stresses the hardware.  While the sentiment above used to be valid, the hardware is pretty much stabilized that you can put together a gaming rig and not need to upgrade for a few years.

    "and because my TV is a hell of a lot bigger than my monitor"

    Maybe physically.  However, in terms of pixel density and resolution it doesn’t even come close to the average LCD display.  But if you don’t care about that, many PC gaming video cards have a HDMI output jack nowadays so it can be connected to the giant fancy TV sitting in the family room.

    – Left4Dead

    Why are zombies always eating brains? I want to see zombies that eat toes for a living. Undead-related pun intended.

    -- Left4Dead --

  8. captain_cthulhu says:

    >> if you have ever wondered why graphics on consoles look better than most PC graphics

    uhh, who the heck wonders THAT?!? they need glasses. I play primarily on consoles but only because I got sick of upgrading my PC constantly and because my TV is a hell of a lot bigger than my monitor 🙂

    I agree that PC graphics don’t look 10x better than consoles but that’s a lot different than saying console graphics are flat-out better than PC.

    also, there’s more to an API than it’s output, like ease of development, for example this opinion from Carmack that directx is now better than openGL (though that doesn’t go against the idea that working closer to the metal is always better):,12372.html

    I also don’t think AMD is taking into account that age old axiom: garbage in, garbage out. consoles are getting all the attention these days and that maps directly to budgets for working projects. A high-profile AAA title will probably get made on an xbox/ps3 before it’s made on PC simply because of the user base (read: captive audience).


  9. GrimCW says:

     my experience lately PC gaming, console ports to the PC especially, is that they rely VERY heavily on the CPU.

    games like most of Sony’s MMO lineup (Galaxies and EQ) among the top ones of PC specific.

    fast GPU? bah, no thanks! fast CPU? oooohhh yeah!

    granted most built for PC titles work better with a good GPU, but ever notice Crysis 1 can still run good looking on an older PC than most console/PC combo titles? and look thrice as awesome?


    in short, i agree with’em, the push M$ has going for the GFWL and 360 is gimping PC titles. where once we got freebie add-on’s and/or higher resolution textures to compensate, we now get direct to ports that need more CPU than a PC specific title that has ten times the GFX output. bundled now instead with less content, very unlikelyhood of DLC from some companies if the title wasn’t a top seller on the platform, shoddy support, and even worse treatment when seeking support. Hell, some are capped FPS, no control options and worse on.

    hence why i still say SLI/Crossfire are still near worthless, even having PhysX specific hardware is pretty useless since very very few titles even bother with enough to say so hardware wise, and even then its pretty negligible, only title i’ve seen worth a mention is shattering tiles with the inmates of Arkham asylem :p

  10. greevar says:

    DirectX is the API for both the Xbox and Windows. It’s obvious that their gaming cash cow is the Xbox though. XNA is just a tool to make DirectX more accesible to independent and hobby developers. Nevertheless, I think MS has been holding things back in order to homogenize games between platforms. They may possibly even be trying to make gaming more console-centric like it was in the 80’s. They have far more control over the consoles than they do over people’s PC’s.


  11. Papa Midnight says:

    Oh it indeed does. I attribute it more to poor developers not taking advantage of ample hardware. Especially considering Crysis is STILL the benchmark by which the mettle of hardware is tested in terms of gaming performance.

    DirectX is the problem?

    Three words: The Lion King

    (Let’s see how many people here really remember gaming history with that one, haha).

    Papa Midnight

  12. beemoh says:

    >We often have at least ten times as much horsepower as an Xbox 360 or a PS3 in a high-end graphics card, yet it’s very clear that the games don’t look ten times as good.

    I should imagine that’s got much more to do with developers making graphics and engines with the least powerful hardware in mind than any given graphics API.


  13. nashligo says:

    Uh no.


    DirectX is used for the xbox, and most pc games are for windows. So it benefits them double to keep DirectX competetive, as it gives them an edge in both consoles and pc. They’ve always been about merging the console and PC experiences through XNA.


    Maybe in THAT way, XNA is strangling the graphics potential of a pc because of the push for games to interoperate between pc console (and now mobile!), and you need to account for the lowest on the power pole.

  14. greevar says:

    Is there any possiblity that MS holds back DirectX because they don’t want the PC significantly outpacing the capabilities of their latest Xbox? If I were MS, I’d probably want to keep the PC from being technically and visually superior to my console. MS has worked DirectX into a nice little comfort zone with the industry that developers don’t really want to sink money into getting out of. So now they’re leveraging their advantage so they can keep the PC and consoles in relative parity.


  15. edmoss87 says:

    What? Developers DO have full control over the hardware – if they want to spend ages writing in native code. APIs like DirectX and OpenGL save a lot of time and effort, it’s much easier not to have to reinvent the wheel for every game you create.

    Also, it is worth pointing out that Xbox360 also uses DirectX, so it’s moot to say that coding for the PC is fundamentaly flawed in comparison. 

  16. ChuckLez says:

    "I also haven’t seen a console game that looks better than a PC game. Someone must be dreaming here or their PC is 10 years old."

    Agreed.  Even with comparisons of Crysis 2 on PC and PS3, first thing you see is lower res textures on PS3. 

    Some launch games for a new console might look better than the PC counterpart for a bit of time, but it doesnt take long for PC to catchup.

    And if anyone wants to complain about the PC having 10x the power but not look 10x better, play COD4 and stand in smoke grenade cloud.  Get FPS reading.  Where is your 360 god now :P.

    There are only 10 types of people in this world, people who know binary and people who don’t.

  17. Inimical says:

    Agreed, I hardly have a top of the line graphics card and my PC STILL looks twice as good as my Xbox.

  18. Awol says:

    They complain about DirectX and how it gets in the way. From what I understand they don’t need to use it if they want to create their own library. Why not stop complaining and create your own 3d library and forget about DirectX… Thats right too much work with very little pay off.

    I also haven’t seen a console game that looks better than a PC game. Someone must be dreaming here or their PC is 10 years old.

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