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Supported Configurations For The Compute Shader

The DirectX 11 compute shader ships with DirectX 11. It will be available on Windows Vista and other Microsoft OS platforms beyond Windows Vista.

A core subset of compute shader features is offered on recent DirectX 10-class hardware so that developers can start to create DirectX 11 Compute Shader applications now using a hardware accelerated development platform. The following table lists the shader features that DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 hardware support. Note that a “group” is the name for a collection of threads operating in the same instance of the Compute Shader.


DirectX 10 Hardware

DirectX 11 Hardware

Number of 32-bit shared registers



Shared register access

Private write / shared read

Fully indexed

Maximum group dimensions

(768, 768, 1)

(1024, 1024, 64)

Maximum group threads



Atomic operators


Full set

Double precision


Check feature





Target Applications For The Compute Shader

Many applications can benefit from the compute shader technology. The following list describes several such applications, ordered by similarity to current Direct3D applications that are implemented today.

  • Photo and imaging
    Although most imaging tasks are similar enough to graphics that Direct3D is a good solution, some operations such as FFT benefit substantially from the random-access I/O capabilities of the compute shader.

  • Video
    Video compression and encoding are difficult to accomplish without random access I/O. The compute shader enables many key algorithms used in video encoding that simply were not feasible previously. Currently, applications typically use fixed-function cores to decode video. The compute shader adds a teraflop of flexible computing power, which enables applications to perform many additional tasks in real time instead. Such tasks include super-resolution scaling, fast noise removal, and de-ringing.

  • Advanced rendering
    A-Buffer OIT, real-time radiosity/GI

  • Search, sort, and query
    Databases often handle large numbers of small records that data-parallel programming can target efficiently. Many search, sort, and query algorithms can easily be parallelized at a fine-grained level. Some of them benefit from processing models that do not enforce ordering of results, which is the case for datasets that will be sorted later.

  • Technical and Scientific
    Academic researchers who required increased performance were the first to program graphics processors for applications beyond 3-D rendering. Scientific and technical computing can benefit greatly by using the compute shader, especially when single-precision math is often used.

  • Cryptography
    Since the release of Direct3D 10, GPUs have supported internal computations on integer data types. Combined with the new flexibility of the compute shader, integer arithmetic enables client PCs to treat their GPU as an encryption/decryption accelerator and enables server-clustered PCs to process large data sets.


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Windows 7 & Direct3D 10


Desktop Windows Manager (DWM)
DirectX 10-Level-9


Remote Rendering
Direct2D API


Direct3D 11 Introduction
Compute Shader


New DirectX 11 Features For The Compute Shader
   - Explicit Thread Dispatch
   - Random Access I/O (Scatter)
   - Interthread Communications That Use Locally Shared Registers
   - Ability To Read And Sample DirectX Data Objects
   - Atomic Operators On Shared Memory Locations


Supported Configurations For The Compute Shader
Target Applications For The Compute Shader


3D Graphics Improvements In Direct3D 11
   - Use of multiple CPU cores
   - Tessellation
   - High-level shading language
   - Cross-platform development with the XBox 360 platform


Additional Direct3D 11 Features
   - Improved Texture Compression
   - Shader Model 5.0
   - Stream Output Flexibility
   - Depth Buffer Capabilities


Multi-GPU Support
   - Homogenous Configurations
   - Heterogenous Configurations


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Multi-GPU & Aero Glass
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