Some of you guys can probably remember Voodoo Glide API from 3Dfx in the good old days? Back then 3Dfx created their own API as they could not accomplish with DirectX what they needed it to do. Over time DirectX has become the primary API yet a way too extensive API mostly focused on compatibility as wide as possible. As you have learned, AMD these days is injecting their processors and APUs in game consoles as well, including pending ones. The biggest complaint from game developers is that they have to develop games for consoles and then port it back to PC, which is a very time consuming and resourceful thing to do for any company. It eats away chunks of money from budgets they really do not want to spend. Keep that in the back of your mind.
AMD now introduces Mantle. Mantle could be best described as a graphics API similar to OpenGL or DirectX but without the extensive overhead, basically to make life easier for programmers. Mantle is AMD's own DX HLSL compatible API in which game developers can address with GPU with much less overhead way more quickly. Next to that by using Mantle, developers can open up the GPU completely and gain the maximum out of it.
As such Mantle is a very big thing for AMD, the Frostbite engine is going to support it, we heard rumors about CryEngine and imagining that the Unreal engine will support it as well. If that happens then a big chunk of upcoming games could be Mantle compatible.
Mantle’s low-level API, paired with Mantle graphics drivers, grants developers direct access to AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) GPU hardware features, which allegedly allows developers to achieve a far higher level of hardware-optimized performance than is possible with OpenGL and DirectX. In fact, AMD claims Mantle can issue nine times as many draw calls per second as those “high-level,” non-hardware-specific APIs. That’s a major leap in performance.
AMD suggests that this will be:
A major performance improvement over the current generation
Add many new graphics features to enable game developers
Triggers large investments in game engine technology
Project mantle is in Beta stages, but during a GPU 14 Tech Days presentation, an announcement was made that Frostbite 3 would have support for Mantle. The first game running on Frostbite 3 to benefit from Mantle will be Battlefield 4 which will get a patch in December that will activate the Mantle support. We can't wait to see how it runs. But now think back to consoles, how easy would it be to get a game supported on all platforms huh ? And hey, Mantle takes advantage of AMD’s unique position as the graphics provider for the Wii U, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 consoles, oh and PCs of course.
This could be a very big thing for the PC platform, but there's always a 'but'; see the good thing here is that this WILL enable faster performance whilst getting the most out of the graphics processors. The bad thing is that the developers still need to code the games for NVIDIA and Intel on DX anyway, so as promising as this seems in the end it could boil down towards more work for the developers, not less.
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