During its Gamefest 2008 developer conference in Seattle, Microsoft officially announced DirectX 11, the newest version of its multimedia API package. Like its predecessor DirectX 10, it will be exclusive to Windows Vista "as well as future versions of Windows."
Features include new shader technology that begins to allow developers to position GPUs as more general-purpose parallel processors, rather than being dedicated solely to graphics processing; better multi-threading capabilities; and hardware-based tesselation.
Said newly promoted Microsoft's Entertainment Business Division CTO Chris Satchell during a Gamefest keynote, "We want to break away from purely having a paradigm of pixels, vertices and shaders."
DirectX 10, which was first released in 2006, required DX10-specific hardware, creating a clearly-defined split between it and DX9. "We created a discontinuity; that was deliberate," Satchell said during his address, but DX11 will be compatible with DX10 hardware.
"DX11 is totally compatible with DX10. There's not that 9/10 discontinuity we created before," he said.
On the state of the PC hardware switch from 32-bit to 64-bit architecture, Satchell noted that software has been the limiting factor. "We've been shipping 64-bit CPUs on the hardware side for awhile," he pointed out. "We're not at the point where the 64-bit OS is catching up. I think we are [there] in the next six to eight months." Satchell did not specify Windows platforms when referring to 64-bit systems.