Using Descriptors Directly in the Root Signature

Applications can put descriptors directly in the root signature to avoid having to go through a descriptor heap. These descriptors take a lot of space in the root signature (see the root signature limits section), so applications have to use them sparingly.

An example usage would be to place a CBV that is changing per draw in the root layout so that descriptor heap space doesn't have to be allocated by the application per draw (and save pointing a descriptor table at the new location in the descriptor heap). By putting something in the root signature, the application is merely handing the versioning responsibility to the driver, but this is infrastructure that they already have.

For rendering that uses extremely few resources, descriptor table / heap use may not be needed at all if all the needed descriptors can be placed directly in the root signature.

The only types of descriptors supported in the root signature are CBVs and SRV/UAVs of buffer resources, where the SRV/UAV format contains only 32 bit FLOAT/UINT/SINT components. There is no format conversion. UAVs in the root cannot have counters associated with them. Descriptors in the root signature appear each as individual separate descriptors - they cannot be dynamically indexed.

struct SceneData
   uint foo;
   float bar[2];
   int moo;
ConstantBuffer<SceneData> mySceneData : register(b6);

In the above example, mySceneData cannot be declared as an array, as in cbuffer mySceneData[2] if it is going to be mapped onto a descriptor in the root signature, since indexing across descriptors is not supported in the root signature. The application can define separate individual constant buffers and define them each as a separate entry in the root signature if desired. Note that within mySceneData above, there is an array bar[2]. Dynamic indexing within the constant buffer is valid - a descriptor in the root signature behaves just like the same descriptor would behave if accessed through a descriptor heap. This is in contrast with inlining constants directly in the root signature, which also appears like a constant buffer except with the constraint that dynamic indexing within the inlined constants is not permitted, so bar[2] would not be allowed there.

The following APIs (from the ID3D12GraphicsCommandList interface) are for setting descriptors directly on the root signature:


There is no concept of a "root descriptor array" in Direct3D 12. Descriptor arrays are only supported in descriptor heaps.


Root Signatures