Microsoft Releases 3D Debugging Tool For DirectX 12

Any graphics programmer worth their salt is familiar with Microsoft’s “PIX”. No, not the photo app of the same name (by the same company, no less), but the comprehensive Direct3D debugging tool that allows a developer to break down their rendering pipeline frame by frame. The utility has now been updated for DirectX 12, but it comes with a great many caveats.

As you can imagine, dissecting a 3D application as it’s running — especially a high-end video game — is somewhat demanding and as a result, the new PIX requires a meaty, up-to-date machine.

Here are the requirements, according to Microsoft:

  • Windows 10 build 14393 (Anniversary Update, aka RS1) with latest updates
  • 32 GB RAM
  • A Direct3D 12 GPU with the latest available graphics drivers. PIX will not work correctly with older drivers!
  • AMD driver >= 21.19.411.0 (17.1.1)
  • Intel driver >=
  • NVIDIA 970 or better with driver >= Note that NVIDIA’s support for GPU shader instruction disassembly requires a DLL.

So, if you’re just casually interested in debugging 3D games, you might want to reconsider. However, if you have a system that meets these specifications, well, there are a few more details you should know.

For one, it’s designed specifically for Direct3D 12, so if you were hoping to crack open an app using Direct3D 9 or 11 (we don’t talk about 10), you’re out of luck. It also only works with 64-bit executables, though considering the target audience, I doubt this will be a problem.

Currently, the new PIX is considered a beta, so Microsoft is looking for feedback on its functionality, as well as bug reports. If you’re interested, you can find more details on the MSDN blog.

Introducing PIX on Windows [MSDN]

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