Rise of the Tomb Raider was updated today to version 1.0.638.6, which is a bigger deal than its less-than-snappy name suggests. The update adds support for DirectX 12, which “on the right hardware can offer far better performance” than was previously achievable, as well as for Nvidia's VXAO ambient occlusion technology, described by Square Enix as “the world's most advanced real-time AO solution.”
“At Nixxes we have a long history of working with consoles as well, and one of the large differences between developing for consoles and developing for PCs is the level of access to the hardware available to us. We can leverage every single hardware feature and every bit of CPU power available in the most efficient way possible. With DirectX 12 we are taking a massive step forwards for bringing a lot of that flexibility to the PC as well,” Nixxes Software boss Jurjen Katsman explained in a Tomb Raider blog post. “For Rise of the Tomb Raider the largest gain DirectX 12 will give us is the ability to spread our CPU rendering work over all CPU cores, without introducing additional overhead. This is especially important on 8-core CPUs like Intel i7’s or many AMD FX processors.”
As an example, he posted screens of Rise of the Tomb Raider running at “high” visual settings on an Intel i7-2600 paired with a GTX 970. Under DirectX 11, which limits the majority of DirectX work to a single core, the frame rate tops out at 46 fps, while DX12 gets it up to 60.
“Another big feature, which we are also using on Xbox One, is asynchronous compute. This allows us to re-use GPU power that would otherwise go to waste, and do multiple tasks in parallel,” Katsman wrote. “And there is a never before seen level of control over Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX configurations, which means that as a developer we can take full control over those systems and ensure users get a great experience with them.”
The Rise of the Tomb Raider DX12 patch is live now on Steam, and is expected to be available soon on the Windows 10 Store. If you try it and run into grief (these things happen sometimes), you can switch back to the previous version through the Beta option (Build 629.1) on Steam.