Intel has officially removed native DX9 support from its Arc and 12th Gen graphics hardware. Now you might be wondering where that leaves older games in your library that still use the old API. There is nothing to fear, Intel is not doing away with DX9 support entirely, rather it is differentiating bug testing and support for Microsoft and its D3D9On12 emulation layer.
Intel is ditching its native DX9 driver and will fall back on Microsoft’s D3D9On12 (opens in a new tab) mapping layer when needed. This layer essentially takes the DX9 commands and translates them into DX12 commands, thereby eliminating a large number of driver optimizations that Intel would have needed to build itself.
Think of it similarly to how Valve’s Proton compatibility layer converts DirectX commands into Vulkan API commands, so you can play games on the Steam Deck. (opens in a new tab) much simpler.
“Intel 12th Gen processor integrated GPU and discrete Arc GPU no longer natively support D3D9”, a support page on the Intel website (opens in a new tab) says (via Tom’s Hardware (opens in a new tab)). DirectX 9 based applications and games can still work through the Microsoft* D3D9On12″ interface.
This should work in Intel’s favor, as the company has admitted that it is struggling with APIs that are older than the latest DX12 and Vulkan APIs on its latest Arc GPUs.
“It’s going to be a labor of love forever to make DX11 titles better and better. And DX9 too,” says Intel’s Tom Peterson. “But then Vulkan and DX12 titles, in general, are going to be more optimized for Intel GPUs as we start to get a bigger footprint.”
With this compatibility layer from Microsoft, Intel can ditch efforts on DX9 titles and instead draw on Microsoft’s expertise with its own API to optimize these games.
“Since DirectX is owned and supported by Microsoft, troubleshooting DX9 apps and games requires forwarding any findings to Microsoft Support so they can include the appropriate fixes in their next update of the DirectX operating system and APIs.” Intel says.
Intel still needs to figure out DX11 support though, and that’s by far the most important piece of the Arc driver puzzle that Intel needs to figure out. Many popular and modern games still rely on the DX11 API, so getting it to work with Arc will be a key to the success he hopes to achieve.