The Future of Windows Graphics Technology

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2005-05-02 Print this article Print

Preview: Longhorn completely reshapes the way Windows handles graphics. DirectX will become an integral part of the operating system, opening up a wealth of 3D technology to any applications. We look under the hood to see how it all fits together.

Last week we attended several presentations discussing the future of Windows graphics at WinHEC. What follows is culled from two presentations given during the graphics track on May 27th, 2005. David Blythe, one of the lead architects in the Windows Graphics and Gaming Technologies group, gave a talk titled "Windows Graphics Overview." The presentation on "Advances in Display and Composition Architecture for Longhorn" was given by Kam VedBrat, Lead Program Manager of the Windows Client Team and Greg Schechter, one of the Windows Client Team architects. Underlying Longhorn is the Windows Graphics Foundation, or WGF. The first version, prosaically dubbed "WGF 1.0" will incorporate DirectX 9.0c as its primary interface. Longhorn will also have the next-generation 3D API also built in at release. You can think of it as "Direct3D 10," but its currently called WGF 2.0. One of the key pieces underlying WGF is the Longhorn Display Driver Model (LDDM). With it, Microsoft is aiming for that ideal situation of "graphics just works." For example, if you upgrade a graphics driver today, you typically have to reboot the system. One example of the "graphics just works" mantra is one of LDDMs goals of allowing installation of graphics drivers without needing to restart the system. LDDM will actually ship in two stages. The first, called "basic," supports current generation graphics hardware: shader model 2.0 and 3.0 capable hardware. The second generation of LDDM, "advanced," will support hardware features that ship on or after the Longhorn timeframe, but will work with the new features in WGF 2.0. Given the competitive nature of the graphics hardware business, its highly probable well see advanced LDDM capable hardware before Longhorn actually ships. The current Windows XP driver model is still supported, but will be frozen going forward. Continued...
Read the full story on ExtremeTech: The Future of Windows Graphics Technology
Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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