The Intel team drops support for DirectX 9, but this may be a good thing

By TechThop Team

Posted on: 16 Aug, 2022

As of now, Intel has officially ceased offering native DirectX 9 support, which applies both to Alder Lake integrated graphics and to the Arc Alchemist discrete GPUs.

However, this does not mean that Intel will not offer access to DX9 shortly. Through DirectX 12, however, DirectX 9 will be supported via emulation through DirectX 12. Do you think that will be enough for gamers to play on

The change was quietly announced by Intel on its product support page, as first spotted by SquashBionic on Twitter. DirectX 9 is no longer supported natively by integrated graphics cards on 12th-generation processors, nor by Intel's discrete GPU solutions. 

As opposed to handling that support on its own, Intel entrusted it to Microsoft, which will redirect DX9 support to DX12. Microsoft's D3D9On12 conversion layer emulates DirectX 9 by sending 3D graphics commands directly to it, which converts them into DirectX 12.

The GPU driver replaces DirectX 9 calls, usually handled by the GPU driver, and acts as a bridge between the two. This change has been met with mixed reactions, but the change itself should not be surprising.

The performance of Intel Arc GPUs is heavily influenced by DirectX 12, with DirectX 11 rendering halved when DirectX 12 is used. Intel should hardly consider DirectX 9 a priority since it was introduced twenty years ago.

The company is also quite optimistic about emulation technology in general, claiming that it is now a decent implementation of DirectX 9. Despite not being as good as natively supporting DX9, the performance should be close. 

The performance might even be equal to native DX9. The CPU usage might increase if this emulation process is used. In a sense, Intel has handed DirectX 9 over to Microsoft. 

The support page even says: “The DirectX APIs are owned by Microsoft and are maintained by Microsoft, so troubleshooting DX9 application and game issues require promoting any findings to Microsoft Support for proper fixes to be included with their next operating system update.”

As a whole, this change should have little impact. DirectX 11 or newer is supported by most games nowadays, so Intel GPUs won't have to convert them. Emulation will be required for older titles relying solely on DX9.

A DX9-compatible integrated GPU from Intel will retain DX9 support without emulation. With Microsoft handling DX9 matters, Intel should have more time to focus on DX11 optimization before Intel Arc Alchemist launches worldwide.

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