Intel to use DirectX12 emulation for DX9 titles
Intel Xe and Arc GPUs will rely on DX12 API to emulate DX9 calls.
Intel’s latest graphics architectures will have no native driver support for DirectX9, an ancient, 20-year-old graphics API. Instead, the company will be using a DirectX12 tool called D3D9on12, which is an open-source conversion layer for DX9 API on DX12.
What this essentially means is that modern Intel GPUs will not have dedicated drivers for DX9 API, instead this DX12 conversion layer will act as a device driver interface for DX9. This simplifies the graphics pipeline significantly and development efforts can be put elsewhere.
Does my system with Intel Graphics support DX9?
12th generation Intel processor’s integrated GPU and Arc discrete GPU no longer support D3D9 natively. Applications and games based on DirectX 9 can still work through Microsoft* D3D9On12 interface.
The integrated GPU on 11th generation and older Intel processors supports DX9 natively, but they can be combined with Arc graphics cards. If so, rendering is likely to be handled by the card and not the iGPU (unless the card is disabled). Thus, the system will be using DX9On12 instead of DX9.
Since DirectX is property of and is sustained by Microsoft, troubleshooting of DX9 apps and games issues require promoting any findings to Microsoft Support so they can include the proper fixes in their next update of the operating system and the DirectX APIs.
The use of D3D9On12 mapping layer does not necessarily mean worse experience. The DX9 games are no longer made these days and graphics performance has increased significantly since they were, so there is a good chance such conversion will have minimal performance impact on games. However, this also means that any potential problems, such as graphics glitches or mapping layer not working at all will have to be fixed by Microsoft themselves, not Intel.
Some of the most popular games on Steam, still have DX9 API support. Some may say this is why they are popular in the first place, because they work on nearly all graphics cards. However nearly all of these games have an alternative newer API support which is fully supported by Intel without conversion layers.
Native support for DirectX9 is still available for Intel’s pre-Xe integrated graphics. Intel is now optimizing their Arc GPU drivers for DX12 and DX11 titles.