Nvidia rolled out its latest Game Ready drivers for GeForce graphics cards on Tuesday. We don’t normally cover the hot-and-heavy world of graphics drivers releases (just keep them updated, okay?), but this one features a notable milestone: Game Ready driver 451.48 is fully DirectX 12 Ultimate compliant, meaning Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 20-series graphics cards are the first hardware to support Microsoft’s next-gen graphics API.

While it’s notable, it’s no surprise. DirectX 12 Ultimate unifies graphics support across PCs and the forthcoming Xbox Series X, rolling in features like an updated version of Microsoft’s DXR ray tracing API, variable rate shading tier 2, mesh shaders, and sampler feedback. Most of those technologies appeared first in Nvidia’s “Turing” graphics cards—the RTX 20-series and GTX 16-series—but haven’t been seen often in games, as they’ve been limited to Nvidia hardware.

Now that they’re enshrined in the new DX12 Ultimate standard across consoles and PC GPUs alike, expect the features to gain more traction. Microsoft calls the unified API “a force multiplier for the entire gaming ecosystem.”

It’s also vindication for Nvidia’s design decisions for its latest graphics card architecture. You can learn more in our Turing GPU deep-dive if you’re curious, and more about these specific features in our coverage of the DirectX 12 Ultimate announcement. They’re nifty stuff.

Future AMD Radeon GPUs will no doubt also support DirectX 12 Ultimate, because the company’s RDNA graphics architecture powers the Xbox One X and ray tracing’s been confirmed for RDNA2 graphics cards launching later this year. Current Radeon offerings lack ray tracing capabilities, however. 

Speaking of the latest APIs, Nvidia’s new driver also rolls out full support for Vulkan 1.2.

Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling, new G-Sync Compatible monitors

That’s not all. Nvidia’s latest Game Ready drivers also let your existing hardware perform new tricks.

A new hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling feature might be even more interesting at the user level than DirectX 12 Ultimate, at least for now. Microsoft added the feature in the Windows 10 2020 May Update (which is also required for DX12 Ultimate), and this driver unlocks Nvidia’s support. Hardware-accelerated GPU scheduling hands VRAM management over to the graphics card itself, rather than having Windows handle the reins.

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