Direct3D feature levels

To handle the diversity of video cards in new and existing machines, Microsoft Direct3D 11 introduces the concept of feature levels. This topic discusses Direct3D feature levels.

Each video card implements a certain level of Microsoft DirectX (DX) functionality depending on the graphics processing units (GPUs) installed. In prior versions of Microsoft Direct3D, you could find out the version of Direct3D the video card implemented, and then program your application accordingly.

With Direct3D 11, a new paradigm is introduced called feature levels. A feature level is a well-defined set of GPU functionality. For instance, the 9_1 feature level implements the functionality that was implemented in Microsoft Direct3D 9, which exposes the capabilities of shader models ps_2_x and vs_2_x, while the 11_0 feature level implements the functionality that was implemented in Direct3D 11.

Now when you create a device, you can attempt to create a device for the feature level that you want to request. If the device creation works, that feature level exists, if not, the hardware does not support that feature level. You can either try to recreate a device at a lower feature level or you can choose to exit the application. For more info about creating a device, see the D3D11CreateDevice function.

Using feature levels, you can develop an application for Direct3D 9, Microsoft Direct3D 10, or Direct3D 11, and then run it on 9, 10 or 11 hardware (with some exceptions; for example, new 11 features will not run on an existing 9 card). Here is a couple of other basic properties of feature levels:

  • A GPU that allows a device to be created meets or exceeds the functionality of that feature level.
  • A feature level always includes the functionality of previous or lower feature levels.
  • A feature level does not imply performance, only functionality. Performance is dependent on hardware implementation.
  • Choose a feature level when you create a Direct3D 11 device.

For information about limitations creating nonhardware-type devices on certain feature levels, see Limitations Creating WARP and Reference Devices.

To assist you in deciding what feature level to design with, compare the features for each feature level.

The 10Level9 Reference section lists the differences between how various ID3D11Device and ID3D11DeviceContext methods behave at various 10Level9 feature levels.

Formats of version numbers

There are three formats for Direct3D versions, shader models, and feature levels.

  • Direct3D versions use a period; for example, Direct3D 12.0.
  • Shader models use a period; for example, shader model 5.1.
  • Feature levels use an underscore; for example, feature level 12_0.

Feature support for feature levels 12_1 through 9_3

The following features are available for the feature levels listed. The headings across the top row are Direct3D feature levels. The headings in the left-hand column are features. Also see Footnotes for the tables.

Feature \ Feature Level 12_10 12_00 11_11 11_0 10_1 10_0 9_37
Shader Model (D3D11) 5.02 5.02 5.02 5.02 4.x 4.0 2.0 (4_0_level_9_3) [vs_2_a/ps_2_x]5
Shader Model (D3D12) 5.12 5.12 5.12 5.12 N/A N/A N/A
Tiled resources Tier26 Tier26 Optional Optional No No No
Conservative Rasterization Tier16 Optional Optional No No No No
Rasterizer Order Views Yes Optional Optional No No No No
Min/Max Filters Yes Yes Optional No No No No
Map Default Buffer Optional Optional Optional Optional No No No
Shader Specified Stencil Reference Value Optional Optional Optional No No No No
Typed Unordered Access View Loads 18 formats, more optional 18 formats, more optional 3 formats, more optional 3 formats, more optional No No No
Geometry Shader Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Stream Out Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
DirectCompute / Compute Shader Yes Yes Yes Yes Optional Optional N/A
Feature \ Feature Level 12_10 12_00 11_11 11_0 10_1 10_0 9_37
Hull and Domain Shaders Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
Texture Resource Arrays Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Cubemap Resource Arrays Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
BC4/BC5 Compression Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
BC6H/BC7 Compression Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No
Alpha-to-coverage Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Extended Formats (BGRA, and so on) Yes Yes Yes Yes Optional Optional Yes
10-bit XR High Color Format Yes Yes Yes Yes Optional Optional N/A
Logic Operations (Output Merger) Yes Yes Yes Optional1 Optional1 Optional1 No
Target-independent rasterization Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Multiple render target(MRT) with ForcedSampleCount 1 Yes Yes Yes Optional1 Optional1 Optional1 No
UAV slots 64 64 64 8 1 1 N/A
Feature \ Feature Level 12_10 12_00 11_11 11_0 10_1 10_0 9_37
UAVs at every stage Yes Yes Yes No No No N/A
Max forced sample count for UAV-only rendering 16 16 16 8 N/A N/A N/A
Constant buffer offsetting and partial updates Yes Yes Yes Optional1 Optional1 Optional1 Yes1
16 bits per pixel (bpp) formats Yes Yes Yes Optional1 Optional1 Optional1 Optional1
Max Texture Dimension 16384 16384 16384 16384 8192 8192 4096
Max Cubemap Dimension 16384 16384 16384 16384 8192 8192 4096
Max Volume Extent 2048 2048 2048 2048 2048 2048 256
Max Texture Repeat 16384 16384 16384 16384 8192 8192 8192
Max Anisotropy 16 16 16 16 16 16 16
Max Primitive Count 2^32 – 1 2^32 – 1 2^32 – 1 2^32 – 1 2^32 – 1 2^32 – 1 1048575
Max Vertex Index 2^32 – 1 2^32 – 1 2^32 – 1 2^32 – 1 2^32 – 1 2^32 – 1 1048575
Max Input Slots 32 32 32 32 32 16 16
Simultaneous Render Targets 8 8 8 8 8 8 4
Occlusion Queries Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Feature \ Feature Level 12_10 12_00 11_11 11_0 10_1 10_0 9_37
Separate Alpha Blend Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mirror Once Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Overlapping Vertex Elements Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Independent Write Masks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Instancing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes7
Nonpowers-of-2 conditionally3 No No No No No No Yes
Nonpowers-of-2 unconditionally4 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Feature support for feature levels 9_2 and 9_1

The following features are available for the feature levels listed. The headings across the top row are Direct3D feature levels. The headings in the left-hand column are features. Also see Footnotes for the tables.

Feature \ Feature Level 9_2 9_1
Shader Model (D3D11) 2.0 (4_0_level_9_1) 2.0 (4_0_level_9_1)
Shader Model (D3D12) N/A N/A
Tiled resources No No
Conservative Rasterization No No
Rasterizer Order Views No No
Min/Max Filters No No
Map Default Buffer No No
Shader Specified Stencil Reference Value No No
Typed Unordered Access View Loads No No
Geometry Shader No No
Stream Out No No
DirectCompute / Compute Shader N/A N/A
Hull and Domain Shaders No No
Texture Resource Arrays No No
Cubemap Resource Arrays No No
BC4/BC5 Compression No No
Feature \ Feature Level 9_2 9_1
BC6H/BC7 Compression No No
Alpha-to-coverage No No
Extended Formats (BGRA, and so on) Yes Yes
10-bit XR High Color Format N/A N/A
Logic Operations (Output Merger) No No
Target-independent rasterization No No
Multiple render target(MRT) with ForcedSampleCount 1 No No
UAV slots N/A N/A
UAVs at every stage N/A N/A
Max forced sample count for UAV-only rendering N/A N/A
Constant buffer offsetting and partial updates Yes1 Yes1
16 bits per pixel (bpp) formats Optional1 Optional1
Max Texture Dimension 2048 2048
Max Cubemap Dimension 512 512
Max Volume Extent 256 256
Max Texture Repeat 2048 128
Feature \ Feature Level 9_2 9_1
Max Anisotropy 16 2
Max Primitive Count 1048575 65535
Max Vertex Index 1048575 65534
Max Input Slots 16 16
Simultaneous Render Targets 1 1
Occlusion Queries Yes No
Separate Alpha Blend Yes No
Mirror Once Yes No
Overlapping Vertex Elements Yes No
Independent Write Masks No No
Instancing No No
Nonpowers-of-2 conditionally3 Yes Yes
Nonpowers-of-2 unconditionally4 No No

Footnotes for the tables

0 Requires the Direct3D 11.3 or Direct3D 12 runtime.

1 Requires the Direct3D 11.1 runtime.

2 Shader model 5.0 and above can optionally support double-precision shaders, extended double-precision shaders, the SAD4 shader instruction, and partial-precision shaders. To determine the shader model 5.0 options that are available for DirectX 11, call ID3D11Device::CheckFeatureSupport. Some compatibility depends on what hardware you are running on. Shader model 5.1 and above are only supported through the DirectX 12 API, regardless of the feature level that's being used. DirectX 11 only supports up to shader model 5.0. The DirectX 12 API only goes down to feature level 11_0.

3 At feature levels 9_1, 9_2 and 9_3, the display device supports the use of 2-D textures with dimensions that are not powers of two under two conditions. First, only one MIP-map level for each texture can be created, and second, no wrap sampler modes for textures are allowed (that is, the AddressU, AddressV, and AddressW members of D3D11_SAMPLER_DESC cannot be set to D3D11_TEXTURE_ADDRESS_WRAP).

4 At feature levels 10_0, 10_1 and 11_0, the display device unconditionally supports the use of 2-D textures with dimensions that are not powers of two.

5 Vertex Shader 2a with 256 instructions, 32 temporary registers, static flow control of depth 4, dynamic flow control of depth 24, and D3DVS20CAPS_PREDICATION. Pixel Shader 2x with 512 instructions, 32 temporary registers, static flow control of depth 4, dynamic flow control of depth 24, D3DPS20CAPS_ARBITRARYSWIZZLE, D3DPS20CAPS_GRADIENTINSTRUCTIONS, D3DPS20CAPS_PREDICATION, D3DPS20CAPS_NODEPENDENTREADLIMIT, and D3DPS20CAPS_NOTEXINSTRUCTIONLIMIT.

6 Higher tiers optional.

7 For Feature Level 9_3, the only rendering methods supported are Draw, DrawIndexed, and DrawIndexInstanced. Also for Feature Level 9_3, point list rendering is supported only for rendering via Draw.

For details of format support at different hardware feature levels, refer to: