Microsoft releases Pix DX12 tuning and debugging tool for Windows

For three generations of Xbox consoles, game developers have used Microsoft's Pix tool for graphics performance tuning and debugging. Microsoft says that developers looking to work with its DirectX 12 API have been asking for a similar tool. Now, the company has released a beta version of Pix for Windows 10.

The purpose of Pix is to allow developers to carefully scrutinize the steps of the graphics rendering process. Pix has five primary operating modes that provide data capture of data regarding the GPU, timing, function summary, callgraph, and memory allocation. By using these tools, devs can get a deep and detailed look at the how their applications' graphics rendering is timed, analyse CPU and GPU performance and threading, and obtain detailed information of prime importance for optimization and debugging.

Pix should be useful for just about anyone developing a DirectX 12 game or app. Since this version of Pix is based on the Xbox release, it's likely that the tool will be particularly helpful for those looking to simultaneously develop titles for PC and Xbox. The software is still in beta, so there's a lengthy list of features that Microsoft still wants to add, but it's immediately available for interested folks to download and try out.

Comments closed
    • Klimax
    • 3 years ago

    Good to see standalone PIX coming back. Now all I need is DirectX 11 support and I can get some debugging on non-dev machines done again without installing VS.

    • tipoo
    • 3 years ago

    On one hand, I wonder why it took them 16 years since the original Xbox generation to use it on Windows as well, especially as two of three Xboxes were pretty standard x86 fare. Though maybe it only makes sense for low level APIs like DX12, so maybe that.

    On the other I’m wondering if this is more signaling moving their Xbox brand to become a PC service since the XBO didn’t do to hot and it’ll be hard to recover from, have XBL servers on them, and maybe still make Xbox hardware, but also have “xbox certified PCs” or something to blend the two.

    It would be similar to their mobile strategy in my view, they’re the underdog in marketshare in one area, so they use where they’re the 900 pound gorilla, desktop/laptops, as the wedge in. Didn’t go that great for mobile, but I feel like that’s what they’ll do.

      • CuttinHobo
      • 3 years ago

      I agree. I think it makes sense now that they’re making XBO games available on Windows 10. Every XBO game sold to a PC gamer gives Microsoft profit without having to make back the money lost on that gamer’s console.

      • DancinJack
      • 3 years ago

      read the comments below.

      • meerkt
      • 3 years ago

      PIX was available on Windows also years ago. Maybe since DirectX 9? If so, that might mean 2002. The earlier reference to it I can find quickly is from 2004:
      [url<]https://msdn.microsoft.com/ja-jp/library/cc351147.aspx[/url<]

        • Klimax
        • 3 years ago

        Correct. It was part of DirectX 9 SDK. It ceased to work after update toDirectX debugging layer in Windows 7 and was replaced/incorporated by Visual Studio.

        At its time it was very good and only one of few tools able to really trace execution of DX commands.

      • LostCat
      • 3 years ago

      X1 is still outselling the 360 at the same stage of its life, so ‘not doing too hot’ sounds more like ‘not doing as bad as people seem to think.’

        • tipoo
        • 3 years ago

        True, but there’s a couple of things to look at here. The XBO did ok in America, but that’s about their one stronghold, international presence is pretty low and makes it hard to attract developers from around the world, a self-cycling problem really. And when comparing it to 360 sales, one has to remember early availability issues in the first year or two of the PS3/360s life. The PS4, by contrast, has sold more to date than the PS3 and 360 /combined/ at this time in their lives, indicating the console market has grown (discounting Wii sales), but the XBO hasn’t capitalized on the growth nearly as much.

        I just get a feeling Microsofts signalling lately is making PC and Xbox equal, the Xboxes would just become easy to use hardware, while PCs built to an Xbox spec would become equal citizens, in my imagining. With most exclusives coming to both, cross-buy being a thing, Xbox branding coming to Windows, I can see it happening in a short few years, last step is to bring Xbox Live servers to PC.

          • LostCat
          • 3 years ago

          360 also was a really flaky console leading to some repeat purchases. Sony is most likely riding on MS and Nintendos weaknesses right now but the X1s market resilience is pretty telling that people haven’t given up on it.

          I’m not sure we’ll be having the same conversation after Scorpio. We’ll see. But right now, I’m extremely happy with what MS has been doing.

    • DPete27
    • 3 years ago

    See, MS does care about PC gaming!!!

    Seriously though, three generations of Xbox consoles!?!?! It doesn’t take a genius to think, “hey, you know how we’re providing this debugging tool for game devs to use with console games, wouldn’t it be nice if they could use that familiar UI to debug their PC ports.” Everyone knows devs design games for consoles first, this seems like a no-brainer. What was the go-to for this task prior?

      • DPete27
      • 3 years ago

      I’ll even give them a pass on the 3 console generations, but since the PS4/XB1 are now x86, you’d think MS would’ve released this tool 3 years ago when those consoles launched at the very least.

        • DancinJack
        • 3 years ago

        To be fair, we don’t necessarily know if they didn’t give dev studios access to this before. I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if it’s just been under wraps.

        For instance…. [url<]https://tomtech999.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/debugging-directx-applications-with-pix-for-windows/[/url<]

        • tipoo
        • 3 years ago

        The first xbox was also x86, arguably even more off the shelf than the XBO.

          • Chrispy_
          • 3 years ago

          Which is why I bought a used one a couple of years after launch [i<]specifically[/i<] to run Linux (XBMC).

      • Narishma
      • 3 years ago

      There already was a Windows version of PIX that came with the DirectX SDK. I believe they stopped updating it when they stopped releasing the SDK around 2010.

        • Zoomastigophora
        • 3 years ago

        It got replaced by the Visual Studio Graphics Debugger, but now that’s supposed to be replaced by this new PIX version, or at least supplement it? I have no idea and I’m the target audience for this tool; this is what happens when the Xbox team and the Visual Studio team don’t talk :\

      • tipoo
      • 3 years ago

      Maybe it only benefits a lower level API like DX12, not what they had before with 8-11 at the time.

    • Duct Tape Dude
    • 3 years ago

    That UI is… interesting. I sort of like it actually, despite coming back full circle to Windows 3.1 Gray.

      • NTMBK
      • 3 years ago

      AT LEAST IT DOESN’T SHOUT AT YOU IN ALLCAPS LIKE VS2013

      • Ninjitsu
      • 3 years ago

      It’s a functional UI for functional people.

      • Aquilino
      • 3 years ago

      Unlike the futuristic UI of Windows 10, so full of smooth and slick animations, transparencies and details. Lot’s of them.

      • Klimax
      • 3 years ago

      It looks bit familiar. It is similar to previous version of PIX.

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