Up until recently, the future of DirectX has been kept well wrapped by Microsoft, but this is set to change. Through a series of teasers on the DirectX blog and Twitter, Microsoft has confirmed that a new version of DirectX - DirectX 12 to be specific - will be unveiled at the Game Developer's Conference (GDC) on March 20, just two weeks from today.
The logos of Intel, Nvidia and AMD on Microsoft's teaser site suggest all three major graphics vendors have been collaborating with the company on the new API. Qualcomm is also listed, which may mean DirectX 12 will be supported by their GPUs in their upcoming ARM-based SoCs, although other ARM vendors (including ARM themselves) weren't shown.
Previously, sessions at GDC revealed a smidgen of information on what DirectX 12 will bring. It appears the updated API will get "even closer to the metal and to do so on an unparalleled assortment of hardware", expanding on what AMD has achieved with their low-level Mantle API. Developers also look like they'll be getting "an unprecedented level of hardware control and reduced CPU rendering overhead", which will help to squeeze every last drop of performance out of graphics hardware.
The last major update to DirectX came in 2009 alongside the launch of Windows 7, when DirectX 11 was launched. The current version, DirectX 11.2, is exclusive to Windows 8.1 and was launched in October of last year. Microsoft typically launches new versions of DirectX alongside major operating system upgrades, so we may see DirectX 12 included with Windows 9 some time in 2015.
To support DirectX 12, new GPU hardware will be required, just has been the case with previous versions of DirectX. It's interesting to note that the Xbox One supports up to DirectX 11.2, but may be quickly superseded at an API level with the launch of DirectX 12, as the existing hardware likely won't support the new API.