Microsoft has developed a new API to simplify super-resolution encoding in PC games. The company’s DirectSR, developed with hardware partners Nvidia, AMD and Intel, will provide a more streamlined tunnel for developers to tap into the companies’ three different approaches to graphics scaling in Windows games.

The company describes DirectSR as enabling “seamless Super Resolution (SR) integration” for Windows games. “DirectSR is the missing link developers have been waiting for as they approach SR integration, delivering a smoother, more efficient experience that scales across hardware,” Microsoft program manager Joshua Tucker wrote in a company blog post.

Super resolution is a technology that improves the visual quality of games without putting too much pressure on the graphics card. It runs games internally at a lower resolution, but uses machine learning (and other tricks) to increase the resolution of what you see on the screen. The result is sharper graphics with only minimal additional demand on the GPU.

A side-by-side (split screen) example of a PC game

Nvidia demo of a Need for Speed ​​​​Unbound screen with and without DLSS (Super Resolution) enabled. (Nvidia)

Microsoft says the DirectSR API opens the door to super-resolution from “multiple vendors” through a “common set of inputs and outputs.” Tucker writes that a single code path will enable a “variety of solutions” across the companies’ three (otherwise different) responses to super-resolution: Nvidia’s DLSS, AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), and Intel’s XeSS.

The SR solutions of the three GPU vendors differ. Powered by Nvidia’s AI DLSS appears to work best, but requires an Nvidia graphics card. AMD’s FidelityFX is more flexible, supporting competitors’ hardware in addition to its own, while Intel’s XeSS offers AI scaling for Intel hardware while providing limited support for non-Intel GPUs.

Earlier this month, X (Twitter) user @PhantomofEarth noticed AI-powered Auto Super Resolution setting in Windows Insider Preview build (24H2). While it hasn’t been confirmed that it’s the same thing, it sounds like it. The tweak will allow you to “Use Al to make supported games smoother with enhanced detail.” The preview version offers a choice to use a universal / automatic scaling approach or one for each game. Initially speculates to be a rival super-resolution feature from Microsoft, it now appears that “Automatic Super-Resolution” may turn out to be a consumer-oriented version of the DirectSR API.

Microsoft says DirectSR will arrive for developers “soon” in a public preview of the Agility SDK (a component of DirectX 12). If you’re a PC game developer, the company plans to go into more detail about the new API in its DirectX State of the Union on March 21 at GDC.