Mantle: AMD’s Shot to Take Control of the GPU Market

In September AMD announced Mantle, their low-level graphics API. If you’re an AMD fan like me, than this is the news you’ve been waiting for from AMD. This is what we currently know about the subject:

 

Mantle is a low-level graphics API

Unlike OpenGL or Direct3D, Mantle is focused more on AMD’s GCN graphics cards and getting the most performance possible out of them. AMD says that Mantle is not locked down to just their cards, but I highly doubt NVidia will be adopting this architecture anytime soon.

 

AMD is using this to bridge the gap between consoles and PCs

Given that AMD designed the APU’s in all three of the next gen consoles and is desperately trying to win back appeal on the PC side from NVidia, this new API was specifically designed to bridge that gap between consoles and computers by making it easier for game designers to program for their games. This is because,  in theory, they know that most people will be using some kind of GCN architecture when playing games.

 

Oxide’s Nitrous engine and EA’s Frostbite 3 engine support Mantle

Oxide, made up of mostly former Civ. V developers, and EA stating that all Nitrous and Frostbite 3 games will support Mantle is a huge deal. EA is arguably one of the biggest publishers of games on both the PC and consoles, so when they make statements like that you can bet that NVidia is listening. This also goes to show how much they believe in Mantle as an API – that it will not just fragment the market more but instead really make their games shine on platforms that implement Mantle over DirectX or OpenGL.

 

Battlefield 4, Star Citizen, and Thief are confirmed, with more games being promised soon

Finally, we have a few games confirmed to either support Mantle or to gain support for it soon. Possibly the biggest is Battlefield 4, which reportedly will run on Mantle natively instead of on DirectX when paired with a GCN GPU. Star Citizen and Thief are both reported to support Mantle, and with every Frostbite 3 game having support you can start to see that this new API is picking up some steam.

 

AMD’s Mantle is shaping up to be very promising, and with more and more game studios jumping on board every day it seems as though AMD has started to lay the foundation to bringing themselves back to the top of the GPU wars. I have been a huge AMD fan for as long as I can remember, and if they can deliver on their promise and Mantle really does boost GPU performance, then I will definitely be looking into buying a pair of R9 290’s to replace my aging pair of HD 6970’s.

 

If you want to know more about Mantle, AnandTech has a great article about it here.

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