AMD plans DirectX 11 GPUs this year

Advanced Micro Devices plans to deliver its first graphics processor with support for Microsoft's new DirectX 11 graphics API (application programming interface) later this year, it said Wednesday at Computex in Taipei.

The new system promises to deliver more detailed and realistic images on systems that support the technology. AMD said it expects to beat competing graphics chip makers to market with the feature.

"It's the biggest inflection point in graphics in 10 years," said Rick Bergman, senior vice president of AMD's products group, during a news conference.

The new technology brings three major improvements to DirectX, said AMD.

The first is around a graphics technique called tessellation that allows game designers to create 3D models with much higher definition than before, so a lot of the jagged or blocky edges and surfaces often found in computer games can be smoothed out. The result is a much more natural look to the graphics.

Tessellation is already used in the Xbox 360 and some graphics processors support, it but the arrival of DirectX 11 will mean a standard around which the entire gaming industry can take advantage of the technique.

DirectX 11 also brings a new way to program the graphics chip through something called the Compute Shader.

"It's the ability to unlock the massively parallel capabilities of the graphics processor in different ways," said Bergman. "In some cases for graphics and in other cases for things like video processing."

The new programming method allows for more flexibility in how programmers utilize the graphics processor and, when combined with Windows 7, can be used to help programs run faster.

The third major change is improvements in the way DirectX handles multithreading in CPUs with multiple cores to realize better graphics performance.

The as-yet unidentified processor will be based on a 40-nanometer production technology at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. At the Taipei news conference a ceremonial first wafer containing the new chips was handed to Bergman by TSMC's John Wei, senior director of platform marketing at the contract chip-maker.

"We'll be the first to deliver DirectX 11 GPUs later in 2009," said Bergman.

AMD didn't provide any additional information on the product, its launch date or price.

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