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What is DirectX?

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Grokking Modern System Design Interview for Engineers & Managers

Ace your System Design Interview and take your career to the next level. Learn to handle the design of applications like Netflix, Quora, Facebook, Uber, and many more in a 45-min interview. Learn the RESHADED framework for architecting web-scale applications by determining requirements, constraints, and assumptions before diving into a step-by-step design process.

DirectX is the name Microsoft uses to define a set of application programming interfaces (API). These interfaces allow the software to write instructions directly onto audio and video hardware, thus enhancing multimedia performance.

The use of DirectX is most prevalent amongst gaming applications.

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Background

Prior to the Windows 95 Service Release 2, gaming was an arduous task that involved DOS and boot disks. In order to give games direct access to system hardware, one had to first boot into DOS and then use special arguments in the config.sys and autoexec.bat files. These long tasks frustrated PC users because of all the hurdles they had to jump through to run games.

To increase Windows popularity amongst the gaming community, Microsoft realized that they had to give Windows access to hardware, like that of DOS, minus the tedious commands. Hence, version 2.0a of DirectX was released for Windows 95 and NT 4.0​ in June 1996.​

Versions

Early versions of Microsoft Windows (XP and earlier) had multiple versions of DirectX that had to be installed separately. Later versions of Windows included DirectX (with some versions having the ability to upgrade). Below are the latest versions of DirectX for the different versions of Windows:

  • DirectX 9: DirectX 9 was released in 2002 for Windows 98 and XP – it is currently supported by all subsequent versions. Microsoft continues to make changes in DirectX 9c, which has caused support for some of the aforementioned operating systems to be dropped.

  • DirectX 10: A major update to the DirectX API, DirectX 10 is only available with Windows Vista and later versions. Previous versions of Windows, such as Windows XP, are not able to run DirectX 10-exclusive applications.

  • DirectX 11: DirectX 11 was unveiled in 2008 and included several notable features (e.g., DirectCompute and multi-threading) to better develop games that utilize multi-core processors. Earlier versions of DirectX 11 were only compatible with Windows Vista and Windows 7; however, more recent versions are also compatible with Windows 8, 8.1, and 10.

  • DirectX 12: DirectX 12 was announced on March 20, 2014,​ and ​launched alongside Windows 10 on July 29, 2015. It uses advanced low-level programming APIs that reduce driver overhead and parallel computation, thus allowing for more efficient resource utilization. ​

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Grokking Modern System Design Interview for Engineers & Managers

Ace your System Design Interview and take your career to the next level. Learn to handle the design of applications like Netflix, Quora, Facebook, Uber, and many more in a 45-min interview. Learn the RESHADED framework for architecting web-scale applications by determining requirements, constraints, and assumptions before diving into a step-by-step design process.

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