AMD has announced a collaboration with Oxide Games and Stardock to bring the very best DirectX 12 performance to Ashes of the Singularity, a massive real-time strategy game built with inspirations from Total Annihilation and one of the first to take advantage of Microsoft’s latest API. Additionally, this morning’s announcement coincides with the release of Ashes’ second early access beta. Players can not only expect to face improved artificial intelligence in battles across entire worlds, but will also be the first to test their system’s DirectX 12 performance in the game’s updated benchmarking tool.
DirectX 12 is promising blistering new levels of efficiency and performance, and AMD’s partnership with Oxide Games aims to raise that bar even higher. The result is a series of AMD exclusive features making their introduction in Ashes of the Singularity. These include:
Asynchronous Compute: DirectX 12 Async Shaders supercharge work completion in a compatible AMD Radeon GPU by interleaving tasks across multiple threads to shorten overall render time. Async Shaders are materially important to a PC gamer’s experience because shorter rendering times reduce graphics pipeline latency, and lower latency equals greater performance. “Performance” can mean higher framerates in gameplay and better responsiveness in VR environments. In DirectX 11 only one shader could run at a time, this means that while a memory-dominant shader was running, the math units would be sitting idle. Ashes of the Singularity is able to use DirectX 12 to schedule nearly all of its compute tasks, which can account for nearly a third of the frame time, to run in parallel with other rendering tasks. This compute work always has to be done, but by allowing them to run in parallel the GPU can now schedule complementary tasks to achieve nearly full utilization of the GPU.
Multi-threaded Command Buffer Recording: With DirectX 12 offering greater support for multi-GPU setups. Ashes of the Singularity benchmark 2.0 allows for full-scale multi-GPU testing. It is important to remember that the CPU and the GPU communicate through the DirectX API. However, DirectX 11 is an API form 2008. Nowadays the GPUs are so fast that a CPU using DirectX 11 can’t feed it fast enough. Although CPUs often have 4/8 cores, for technical reasons DirectX 11 games could only have 1 core to feed the GPU. As if in a highway we only use one lane. During a frame, the GPU would run out of work and would sit idle. DirectX 12 allows all CPU cores to feed the GPU, this GPU food is called ‘command buffers’ i.e. eight cores feeding your GPU better than one.
Furthermore, Ashes of the Singularity and its new beta and benchmarking tool fully support explicit multi-GPU, or the ability to combine graphics cards from different vendors – AMD and Nvidia, for example – in a single machine. It’s not a new concept, but the ability to do so was never officially part of previous DirectX specifications. The available workarounds at the time, where each GPU queued and alternatively displayed completed frames in a technique called Alternate Frame Rendering, introduced latency and limited performance gains. Explicit mGPU support in DirectX 12, however, solves many of those issues. Rather than a slower queuing process, Split-Frame Rendering breaks each frame into smaller tiles. The tiles are then assigned to the different GPUs and later combine to form a whole image.
Even more exciting is the ability for the cards to pool their memory. Previous mGPU systems could only work with the RAM of a single card. Four plus four equaled four. But with DirectX 12, the total amount of available RAM follows the laws of math. Four plus four equals eight. The only black mark to explicit mGPU configurations is that it’s on the onus of software developers to support the feature. Not every DirectX 12 game may include the option to enable it. Ashes of the Singularity is the first, but hopefully not the last.
Ashes of the Singularity Beta 2 is available now for $49.99 on GOG and Steam. Benchmark 2.0 is included as part of the package, run from within the game itself. The full release of Ashes of the Singularity is expected later this year.