A wrapper is a common name for a technology used to transparently replace calls made to one graphics API with calls made to another. This can be used to run software on systems they were not designed for, such as running old PC games made for 3Dfx Glide graphics card on modern Windows 10 systems, or running modern Windows-only DirectX 11 games on Linux. A wrapper often takes the form of a shared library that replaces the original, though it can also be a standalone interceptor. Wrappers aren't needed for OpenGL since its APIs don't require much translation. Despite this, a wrapper was created for it anyway.
To understand why wrappers are needed for older games, it's important to understand that during the 90s the graphics card market for IBM PCs and compatibles was in its infancy, and Direct3D wasn't an automatic choice for developers. Some games were often designed for 3Dfx's Glide API so that it would run with their Voodoo card. With 3dfx going bankrupt however, support for Glide didn't stay around and the API was made open-source, but NVIDIA and AMD never incorporated it into their drivers. A wrapper is now needed to play these games with hardware acceleration, or if we're lucky the game gets a port to other APIs instead.
Even games using older versions of DirectDraw or Direct3D might benefit from wrappers. Since they can have compatibility or rendering issues on modern systems. Wrappers also enable various overrides and enhancements, such as the use of third-party tools like ReShade, to enhance or improve the gaming experience.
|nGlide||2.10||Glide||Vulkan, Direct3D 9||✗||✓||✓|
|dgVoodoo 2||2.72||Glide, DirectX 1-9||Direct3D 11, Direct3D 12||✗||✓||✓|
|WineD3D||6.0.1 (Linux, macOS)
|DirectX 1-11||Vulkan, OpenGL||✓||✓||✓|
|GLRage||r10||ATI 3D Rage||OpenGL||✓||✗||TBD|
Currently the best Glide wrapper, but it's closed-source. All three public API versions are supported; 2.11, 2.60 and 3.10, and it reads them using Direct3D 9. Vulkan output was added in 2.0, which allows it to work under Linux using Wine 2.10.0 and newer. nGlide also supports high resolution modes. See the compatibility list.
Despite the name, dgVoodoo 2 reimplements more than Glide. It replaces multiple APIs; Glide 2.11, 2.45, 3.1, 3.1 Napalm, all versions of DirectDraw and Direct3D up to version 7, Direct3D 8.1, and Direct3D 9. This wrapper outputs Direct3D 11 with different device types as wrapping output such as hardware or software rendering.
Wine is a compatibility layer for Linux and macOS. On its own, Wine works pretty well for running older DirectX games. Some forks allow Wine's built-in reimplementations to run under Windows.
A free replacement for ddraw.dll outputting OpenGL. It's designed to overcome driver bugs, mainly in Windows Vista and beyond. It adds various rendering enhancements such as display scaling and filtering options. DXGL also supports Direct3D 7, however it's currently under development and doesn't work with many programs.
2000's and later APIs
If you want to run modern Windows games on another OS you will likely need one of these wrappers. Usually you don't have to download these separatly as they come packaged into compatibility layers like Proton, Wine or CrossOver. Some wrappers can also be used on Windows to improve compatibility or stability for games using older Direct3D or OpenGL versions.
|WineD3D||6.0.1 (Linux, macOS)
|Gallium Nine||git||Direct3D 9||Linux Calls||✓||✓||~ WIP|
|d3d8to9||git||Direct3D 8||Direct3D 9||✓||✓||✗|
|DXUP||git||Direct3D 9-10||Direct3D 11||✓||✗||✗|
- A fork for Direct3D 9, originally created when DXVK was designed for Direct3D 10 and 11. Was merged back into the main project in version 1.5.
A work-in-progress Direct3D 12 to Vulkan wrapper created for Wine by Valve.
Has an internal graphics API wrapper for Direct3D 1-11 using OpenGL. It works mostly well for older games, but is slower and has more bugs than newer wrappers using Vulkan, such as DXVK. It's possible to use Wine's wrapper in Windows using different forks.
An open-source implementation of the Direct3D 9 library. Gallium Nine is different since it uses calls native to Linux as opposed to another graphics API like Vulkan. This allows applications to run at near-native speeds. The catch is that it relies on Gallium, Linux's open source 3D renderer, and any driver that doesn't use Gallium is less likely to work (such as NVIDIA's proprietary drivers).
A Direct3D 9 wrapper that outputs to Vulkan.
- State of Direct3D 9-12 translation layers by DXVK author YoRHa-2B (2019-04-02)
- Compatibility layers - Allows software written for one operating system to run on a different OS.