Graphics APIs to develop video games

Graphics APIs to develop video games
Graphics APIs to develop video games


Bloomua /

The sectors that create products based around technology have had a place of battle marked on their agendas for a long time: mobiles. One such sector is that of video games, which finds a place for its business on the most intimate of user devices. Both Apple and Google are involved in a continuous process of launches, improvements and alliances related to graphics APIs for games: Metal in iOS and Vulkan as an Android partner. Moreover, Apple and Google compete with Microsoft and other graphics developers.

In mid 2014, Apple launched the iOS 8 mobile operating system, which included 4,000 APIs designed for developers to create new apps. OS included two development brands, HealthKit and HomeKit, and Metal, a graphics API that promised on its release to squeeze the most out of the A7 processor in apple devices. Apples’ new graphics API has its own framework called MetalKit.

Until the arrival of this new generation, graphics APIs were not prepared for efficient management of data for it to be rendered, which includes a series of sub-processes related to calls between the graphics processing unit (GPU) and the central unit processing (CPU). This causes the CPU to consume more time and energy, elements that could be used to enhance graphics, special effects and 3D animation in a video game. Metal and Vulkan improve this.

Metal, total control of the device

Metal provides a single unified programming interface and a language for parallel work in both graphics and data computation. This allows both processes to be integrated more effectively without needing to use several APIs simultaneously and separately. Control of the device’s hardware is total, which allows overload to be decreased despite the fact that the number of request to improve graphics and effects grows a lot.

Metal offers some important features for developers:

– An interface with low overload: Metal allows “hidden” bottlenecks, as they are called in the API documentation, to be removed. The idea is to have more direct control over the graphics processing unit (GPU) to meet a greater number of requests from the CPU without causing more overloading.

– Memory and resource management. The outcome is that less overloading allows a greater number of calls and requests to be made to the GPU from the device’s CPU. This translates into enhanced graphics performance: more objects on screen without needing to take CPU to the limit. 

– Integrated support for graphics and calculation operations. Metal uses the same data structures and resources for both graphics and calculation operations. Metal’s framework allows resources to be shared between the execution time interface, calculation functions and graphics shaders (procedures allowing game developers to manipulate not only lighting and shading, but also the creation of effects and animations).

– Precompiled Shaders.

Android turns to Vulkan to combat Apple

Vulkan, a graphics API developed by Khronos, is based on an open standard to gain in efficiency and performance, both in graphics and data computation, responding to the demands of new graphics processing units. As with Metal, Vulkan is designed to facilitate organized GPU data consumption in the rendering process. This is what makes it possible to have special effects and high quality 3D animation.

Outstanding features of Vulkan:

– Direct control over GPU functioning, which facilitates a reduction in overloading and improved graphics performance.

– Multi-threading technology. Allows several threads to be run in parallel on a single processor. The final goal is to improve general performance.

– Used in several types of device: mobiles, desktop, consoles, etc.

– Layered architecture.

– Simpler drivers. Lower overloading.

– ASTC free texture compression system. Reduces memory and bandwidth consumption for graphics texture processing.

– Debugging and robustness in running secure code


DirectX 12, the Microsoft graphics API

DirectX 12 is the latest version of Microsoft’s DirectX graphics API. The application programming interface that handles the aspects visual in all devices with Windows operating systems, particularly Windows 10. Above all, it is an API focusing on graphics development for video games, not only for the desktop, but also for other Seattle company products, such as mobiles and consoles.

Some of the key features of this new API:

– One of the improvements in DirectX 12 compared to DirectX 11 is its 3D graphics system. Direct3D 12 offers low level hardware abstraction, allowing developers to simplify the whole process of adapting code to the different hardware on which their product will be run. The new Microsoft API achieves this by permitting more direct access to hardware functions.

– A total re-configuration of the graphics management.

– Optimization of the process of calls from the GPU to the CPU. Bottlenecks are eliminated, resulting in a greater number of objects on screen when a user plays a video game. Performance improves because the CPU responds quickly to commands from the graphics processing unit

– The DirectX 12 multi-adapter. Makes it easier for developers to split processing between the main GPU and the CPU’s integrated graphics. The heaviest graphics parts are included in the GPU processing tasks, but other, simpler processes are performed in parallel by the CPU. Evidently, this improves performance.

– The DirectX 12 API is compatible with previous versions, such as DirectX 11


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