Intel 12th Gen CPUs with integrated Xe/Arc GPU graphics drop native hardware DirectX 9 support

Native DX9 hardware support has officially disappeared from Intel's 12th generation CPU Xe integrated graphics solutions and A-series Arc Alchemist discrete GPUs. Intel says all support for DirectX 9 will be moved to DirectX 12 emulation mode.

The simulation will run on Microsoft's "D3D9On12" open source translation layer. Conversion occurs by sending 3D DirectX 9 graphics commands to the D3D9On12 layer rather than directly to the D3D9 graphics driver. Once the D3D9On12 layer receives commands from the D3D9 API, it converts all commands into D3D12 API calls. So basically, D3D9On12 will act entirely as a GPU driver, not Intel's actual GPU driver.

Microsoft says this emulation process has become a relatively high-performance implementation of DirectX 9. As a result, performance is comparable to native DirectX 9 hardware support.

So Intel's change to DX9 seems like a very good move. Intel can now turn driver development resources towards DirectX 11 optimizations (which are bad at the moment). In addition, Intel will not suffer from performance impact, DX9 optimization is completely "outsourced" to Microsoft.

According to Microsoft, one can watch how the D3D9On12 performs to see if Nvidia and AMD are following the same path as Intel. However, API translations can have some impacts, including higher CPU usage (since translations are accelerated by software) and potential side effects of older games. Nvidia and AMD also have nearly 20 years of experience with DirectX 9 drivers, and in comparison, the DX12 emulation layer may suffer a performance penalty.

Previously, Intel only had a DirectX 9 experience on integrated graphics, and that didn't translate to a higher-performance discrete graphics experience. Therefore, Intel's move to emulation on Arc graphics cards worldwide has practical benefits.

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