Last week was a big week for the tech giants AMD, as they made several announcements on new things to come. The one you most likely heard about was their new range of GPU’s (graphical processing units), the R7 and R9 series, with the R9 290X being their new high-end beast of a card; but this is only the tip of the ice berg.
Mantle – this, announced last Wednesday (25-09-13) at AMD’s conference in Hawaii, is what has gotten gamers and game developers alike really going crazy, as they see the bright, dazzling light of an already shiny tunnel. Mantle is an API that is specifically written for AMD GPU’s at a very low-level, meaning that developers will be able to make the most of absolutely everything available to them.
Currently developers use either OpenGL or Direct X11, usually the latter, which allow them to write code that can be easily ported to different platforms. DX11 is known for a it’s amazing compatibility but is far too bloated with stuff you just don’t need for certain architectures and because of this, that there is a bottleneck on the amount of calls that can made from the GPU, which doesn’t occur on consoles.
When you write code for a console, say the Xbox 360 for example, you can write the code to specifically utilize all of the hardware inside because you know exactly what the hardware is going to be as every console is the same. This reduces the effect of the bottleneck drastically. So although consoles may not have amazing GPU’s inside them, they can still produce graphics similar to that of a high-end one, simply because they can make more calls to it. What Mantle will do, is bring this efficiency to PC’s.
When I first heard this announcement my immediate thought was that it was an amazing idea, but it’s the developers that will be the problem. They have 3 choices:
- Don’t develop for Mantle
- Only develop for Mantle
- Spend more time and money developing in DX11/OpenGL and Mantle
Obviously we would prefer either of the last two, but this means either alienating anybody not using compatible AMD GPU’s or spending more money, two things that developers might not be so happy about.
PLOT TWIST – Mantle has been developed at the “request of the developers!” so we know that at least, some developers are going to make the most of this. Though I do still think that there will need to be some sort of incentive to get people using Mantle API over DX11.
What really needs to happen to kick this off is one big, well-known title to demonstrate its power and the rest will follow by developing for it too.
Microsoft and Sony are going to be pretty hostile towards this as this new idea coupled with Valve’s Steam Machine team working with AMD could put the new first time console miles ahead of the Xbox One and PS4 at a fraction of the price.
Stay tuned for more information on AMD and Valve’s other amazing announcements!