Stands for "Windows Display Driver Model." WDDM is a display driver architecture introduced with Windows Vista. It improves graphics performance over the previous Windows XP architecture by more fully utilizing a computer's GPU to render system graphics.
When Microsoft released the Vista operating system at the beginning of 2007, dedicated graphics processors (or GPUs) had become standard computer components. Additionally, GPU performance was increasing by a much faster rate than CPUs. Therefore, software developers needed an efficient way to "offload" as much graphics processing from the CPU to the GPU as possible. This lead Microsoft to rewrite the graphics driver system during the development of Windows Vista. The more efficient WDDM graphics architecture was the result.
One of the biggest benefits of the WDDM architecture is that it supports GPU multitasking. This allows Windows users to run multiple graphics intensive applications at the same time. It also simplifies graphics programming, making it easier for 3D game developers to take fully advantage of a system's GPU. Additionally, the WDDM offers improved stability by detecting when the driver hangs and restarting the display driver instead of requiring a full system restart.
While the WDDM architecture was introduced with Windows Vista, it is also used by newer versions of the Windows operating systems, such as Windows 7 and Windows 8. Windows 7 includes WDDM 1.1, while Windows 8 includes WDDM 1.2. These updates include improvements designed to support new graphics processing capabilities offered by modern GPUs.
NOTE: WDDM may also be referred to as WVDDM or "Windows Vista Display Driver Model." However, this term is not commonly used since WDDM is now used by newer versions of Windows.
Updated: April 3, 2013