Whatever ATI thought as an advantage, when shipping DirectX 10.1 in 48xx generation of graphic cards will be short-lived. Microsoft will be announcing DirectX 11 in about 2 weeks at Gamefest 2008. The Gamefest conference will be held on 22nd-23rd of July, 2008 in Seattle where Microsoft plans to officially launch DirectX 11.
DirectX 11 has lots of new features and is a much more important update to DirectX than 10.1. NVidia has announced that it will skip DirectX 10.1 and will directly ship its next generation with DirectX 11 support. DirectX 11 brings Shader Model 5.0 (SM5), which has been closely developed with GPU manufacturers. NVidia has been having the SM5 profile in the Nvidia SDK for sometime now, but didn’t have any new functionality. Probably the Microsoft announcement is what Nvidia has been waiting for. Also another eagerly awaited feature in DirectX 11 is Tessellation/Displacement, which means that converting displacement map to object mesh is lot more faster and less intensive. There are also hopes that something for general purpose GPU computing (GPGPU) may be added in the DirectX11 API, but nothing is yet known. Multithreading Rendering and Compute Shaders are definitely there in the DirectX 11 API.
DirectX11 should also be a major programming step for game developers because DirectX 11 will be the base for the next-generation XBox console that Microsoft promised to release sometime next year. A lot research has been put into DirectX 11 and next-gen XBox already, and we can expect some release date for Microsoft’s next-gen console during Gamefest 2008.