Windows Graphics News – 2021 Q1

Ana Marta Carvalho

With the first quarter of 2021 behind us, we here at the Windows Graphics team would like to share what we’ve been up to in the last three months.

Let’s dive into this quarter’s update – we’ll brief you on not just new graphics features, but also highlight DirectX in gaming, as well as graphics feature adoption.

To wrap up, we could not end this update without talking about some upcoming news!


New Graphics Features

The wait is over – Auto HDR for PC is now available to Windows Insiders!

This week, we launched Auto HDR into preview for PC. This feature instantly upgrades DirectX11 and DirectX12 games to HDR adding over 1000+ games to Window’s HDR gaming catalog! To learn more about Auto HDR and how you can enable the feature, check out our blog at Learn more here on how to join Windows Insider Program (WIP).


Content adaptive brightness control (CABC) disabling has arrived to WIP!

CABC helps improve battery performance on laptops, but it can result in distracting brightness changes that interfere in experiences where image quality is of high importance. Now, Windows Insider users are finally able to turn off CABC directly in the Display settings via Settings > System > Display!

Note: Depending on your device, you may see just one (or both) of the checkboxes seen under the brightness slider below. To find out if your device has CABC support, you can look at your GPU control panel.


PIX on Windows releases: launch history, environment variables, & more!

PIX on Windows released PIX versions 2101.27 and 2103.16 this quarter. With 2101.27 we added hardware-specific counter support for AMD RDNA™ 2 Radeon™ RX 6000 series GPUs and new raytracing counters on RX 6000 series GPUs. It also improves reliability and fidelity for shader debugging for those using DXIL. In 2103.16, we addressed two longstat. This release also includes improvements to camera controls in the mesh viewer. In February, we also updated WinPixEventRuntime.


DirectX 12 Ultimate in Gaming

Gears showcases DX12 Ultimate with true cross-platform VRS support

It’s been an exciting past few months, with several major players in the industry shipping titles with DirectX 12 Ultimate support or announcing their plans to do just that.

One of these studios was The Coalition, who brought VRS (Variable Rate Shading) Tier 2 support to both Gears 5 and Gears Tactics across the full gamut of DX12U-capable devices.

Their VRS implementation allowed them to see huge performance wins – up to 14% – with only a small amount of dev work and no noticeable impact on visual quality.

And because of the unprecedented alignment of DX12 Ultimate, it was easy for them to bring this to every DX12U machine, from the Xbox Series X|S to supported AMD and NVIDIA hardware on PC.

The Coalition also wrote an awesome guest blog about integrating VRS support into their engine. Check it out here.


Gaming PC OEMs love and embrace DirectX 12 Ultimate at CES

At this year’s first-ever, all-digital Consumer Electronics Show (CES), we got a glimpse of exciting innovations in PC gaming, with Microsoft’s device partners announcing new Windows hardware and software for all kinds of gamers. We’re excited that our partners are embracing graphics cards that fully support DirectX 12 Ultimate in their flagship gaming PCs.


Graphics Feature Adoption

Native ARM64 Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom now available for preview!

Adobe released betas of native ARM64 Photoshop and Lightroom for Windows! This is exciting because many creative pros can now use Surface Pro X and other ultra-portable ARM devices as their daily drivers AND because these apps leverage our new OpenGL and OpenCL-on-12 mapping layers.


Coming next

Now that we have reviewed the past quarter, what’s coming next?

Graphics going big at Game Stack Live

On April 20-21, Graphics’ DirectX Developer Day and Game Stack Live will combine to create the year’s most impactful live event for game developers! Xbox will broadcast recorded sessions and game developers will be able to interact live with Microsoft experts. The Graphics team and partners will bring in 11 talks to reveal how DirectX helps developers embrace the new generation of gaming graphics, DirectStorage, Auto HDR, Shader Model 6.6, and PIX improvements. You can register for the event at


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