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DirectX 6.0: Speed and Quality for Advanced Multimedia Games

August 18, 1998

The latest version of DirectX, Microsoft's multimedia development platform that is integrated into Windows 98, has been released to consumers.

For multimedia applications such as computer games, DirectX 6.0 provides:

  • Enhanced speed. A faster rendering engine boosts performance of key applications by up to 60 percent.
  • Richer graphics. Upgrades to the DirectX component called Direct3D significantly improve 3-D graphics quality.

Though most forthcoming games will include DirectX 6.0 on the CD-ROM, hard-core gamers will want to download DirectX 6.0 right away. The upgrade is fully backward-compatible; applications and games developed for DirectX 5.0 will benefit from some of the performance enhancement and work faster with 6.0.

Buzz in the Games Industry

Though the technology can be applied in areas such as video playback and multimedia presentations, this upgrade to the DirectX multimedia technology has been most avidly anticipated by computer games developers. DirectX 6.0 was introduced to the games industry at events dubbed Meltdown '98 in the United States, England, and Japan. Last month, during intense weeks of information sharing and testing, leading hardware and software developers got their hands on the release and are already busy working on the next generation of multimedia applications.

Now that DirectX 6.0 is available for consumer download, gamers have their chance to see what the buzz is about. In the world of full-color graphics, video, 3-D animation, and surround sound, it is hard-core computer gamers who define the term "bleeding edge." They demand the latest, most powerful effects. To deliver on those expectations, game developers are writing to this new standard for their upcoming titles.

New Nuts and Bolts for Richer 3-D Multimedia FX

The major enhancements for this release come in the 3-D visualization effects implemented by Direct3D, a component of DirectX. Developers are incorporating the new possibilities created by a completely rewritten geometry engine and support for new hardware features that allow more efficient texturing, shading, lighting, and perspective effects. The user will see the result in more realistically rendered 3-D visualizations and more immersive audio. Virtual worlds will look cooler, richer, smoother, and deeper than ever before.

In addition, DirectPlay--the high-level DirectX software component that interfaces between applications and communication services to enable users to connect games over the Internet, a modem link, or a network--will now, for the first time, support multimedia applications through a network firewall.

Independently of the visual, audio, and multi-player gaming improvements, the performance boost from DirectX 6.0's faster rendering engine will make multimedia applications run faster.

How it Works

How does this upgrade fit into your system? DirectX is an interface layer, fully integrated into Windows 98, that sits between the operating system and multimedia hardware peripherals such as 3D-cards or game devices, acting as interpreter between your computer's central processing unit and those peripherals. It gives developers direct access to specialized hardware features without requiring them to write hardware-specific code. For the user, the fact that DirectX comes built in as a native layer of Windows 98 ensures reliability and stability. It takes the risk out of installing a new game that in the past might have screwed up other drivers on the operating system. If a game is DirectX-compatible, it will work seamlessly on Windows 98. DirectX 6.0 upgrades your system.

Note that this upgrade is built to be backward-compatible with Windows 95 and forward-compatible with Windows NT 5.0, so that DirectX 6.0 sets a single new multimedia standard for all platforms.

See Also