Read back data via a buffer

To read back data from the GPU (for example, to capture a screen shot), you use a readback heap. This technique is related to Uploading texture data via a buffer, with a few differences.

  • To read back data, you create a heap with the D3D12_HEAP_TYPE set to D3D12_HEAP_TYPE_READBACK, instead of D3D12_HEAP_TYPE_UPLOAD.
  • You use a fence to detect when the GPU completes processing a frame (when it is done writing data into your output buffer). This is important, because the ID3D12Resource::Map method doesn't synchronize with the GPU (conversely, the Direct3D 11 equivalent does synchronize). Direct3D 12 Map calls behave as if you called the Direct3D 11 equivalent with the NO_OVERWRITE flag.
  • After the data is ready (including any necessary resource barrier), call ID3D12Resource::Map to make the readback data visible to the CPU.

Code example

The code example below shows the general outline of the process of reading back data from the GPU to the CPU via a buffer.


// The output buffer (created below) is on a default heap, so only the GPU can access it.

D3D12_HEAP_PROPERTIES defaultHeapProperties{ CD3DX12_HEAP_PROPERTIES(D3D12_HEAP_TYPE_DEFAULT) };
D3D12_RESOURCE_DESC outputBufferDesc{ CD3DX12_RESOURCE_DESC::Buffer(outputBufferSize, D3D12_RESOURCE_FLAG_ALLOW_UNORDERED_ACCESS) };
winrt::com_ptr<::ID3D12Resource> outputBuffer;
winrt::check_hresult(d3d12Device->CreateCommittedResource(
    &defaultHeapProperties,
    D3D12_HEAP_FLAG_NONE,
    &outputBufferDesc,
    D3D12_RESOURCE_STATE_COPY_DEST,
    nullptr,
    __uuidof(outputBuffer),
    outputBuffer.put_void()));

// The readback buffer (created below) is on a readback heap, so that the CPU can access it.

D3D12_HEAP_PROPERTIES readbackHeapProperties{ CD3DX12_HEAP_PROPERTIES(D3D12_HEAP_TYPE_READBACK) };
D3D12_RESOURCE_DESC readbackBufferDesc{ CD3DX12_RESOURCE_DESC::Buffer(outputBufferSize) };
winrt::com_ptr<::ID3D12Resource> readbackBuffer;
winrt::check_hresult(d3d12Device->CreateCommittedResource(
    &readbackHeapProperties,
    D3D12_HEAP_FLAG_NONE,
    &readbackBufferDesc,
    D3D12_RESOURCE_STATE_COPY_DEST,
    nullptr,
    __uuidof(readbackBuffer),
    readbackBuffer.put_void()));

{
    D3D12_RESOURCE_BARRIER outputBufferResourceBarrier
    {
        CD3DX12_RESOURCE_BARRIER::Transition(
            outputBuffer.get(),
            D3D12_RESOURCE_STATE_COPY_DEST,
            D3D12_RESOURCE_STATE_COPY_SOURCE)
    };
    commandList->ResourceBarrier(1, &outputBufferResourceBarrier);
}

commandList->CopyResource(readbackBuffer.get(), outputBuffer.get());

// Code goes here to close, execute (and optionally reset) the command list, and also
// to use a fence to wait for the command queue.

// The code below assumes that the GPU wrote FLOATs to the buffer.

D3D12_RANGE readbackBufferRange{ 0, outputBufferSize };
FLOAT * pReadbackBufferData{};
winrt::check_hresult(
    readbackBuffer->Map
    (
        0,
        &readbackBufferRange,
        reinterpret_cast<void**>(&pReadbackBufferData)
    )
);

// Code goes here to access the data via pReadbackBufferData.

D3D12_RANGE emptyRange{ 0, 0 };
readbackBuffer->Unmap
(
    0,
    &emptyRange
);