Microsoft boosts Windows 7 graphics with hardware

Microsoft's DirectX 11 will see a performance boost with graphics hardware

Microsoft is trying to improve the visuals in Windows 7 by working with hardware makers on a software interface that maximizes the use of graphics cards.

The OS will support a new API (application programming interface) called DirectX 11 that enables better gaming through more realistic graphics and faster playback of multimedia files. The software giant is working with top graphics chip makers Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices on those features.

The DirectX 11 graphics drivers are designed to help Windows 7 effectively break up tasks over multiple cores to boost application and graphics performance. For example, Windows 7 will process video faster by unloading the task from the CPU to graphics processor cores.

Nvidia has been able to use DirectX compute capabilities in Windows 7 to accelerate tasks like manipulating images or playing DVDs via its graphics processing unit, said Ned Finkle, vice president of strategic marketing at Nvidia, in a video posted on Microsoft's Windows 7 Web site.

"Microsoft did a number of things within the operating system that allow us to take the computing horsepower we developed for visual computing and apply it to a range of tasks that have never been seen before," Finkle said.

Beyond simple multimedia tasks, AMD said DirectX 11 harnesses the massive parallel processing capabilities of GPUs to improve gaming on PCs, said Neal Robison, director of independent software vendor relations at AMD.

"We're going to see gaming at a whole new level of realism that you've never been able to experience before because it just hasn't been possible," Robison said.

He also said that Windows 7 could speed up conversion of video for playback on portable devices. Users will be able to drag and drop video from PCs to portable devices, with DirectX 11 enabling video conversion on the fly.

While Microsoft has built native DirectX 11 support in Windows 7, users will benefit only with capable hardware. AMD in June showed off a prototype DirectX 11 graphics processing unit, but is yet to formally announce a product.

In a blog entry posted Thursday,

AMD's Robin Maffeo, a Microsoft alliance manager, wrote "there are plans to make native DirectX 11 hardware from AMD in its ATI Radeon GPUs available when Windows 7 is released."

Current graphics cards and integrated graphics on chipsets carry support for DirectX 10 or 10.1.

The ability to break up tasks is an evolutionary step for Microsoft in developing operating systems, said Dan Olds, principal analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group. As users demand heavier graphics from PCs, it is in Microsoft's best interests to offer an operating system that breaks up tasks across multiple graphics cores and CPUs, he said.

"In order to be able to get performance from succeeding generations, you have to have a multicore-aware operating system," Olds said. Execution of tasks on a single core isn't highly efficient, which was a problem that plagued earlier operating systems, Olds said.

The DirectX 11 enhancements could also encourage more developers to build games for Windows 7 and help the company keep pace with competition.

One company competing with Microsoft is Apple, which has changed the basic architecture of its upcoming Mac OS X 10.6 OS, code-named Snow Leopard, to include new features that divvy up graphics and other tasks over multiple CPU and graphics cores. It builds in support for OpenCL, a set of programming tools to develop and manage parallel task execution.

Nvidia and AMD have said they would support DirectX 11 and OpenCL. Intel, which offers integrated graphics on chipsets, in June released updated graphics drivers for Windows 7, but it carried support for only DirectX 10.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Topics: directx, Microsoft, Windows 7
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?