AMD: Mantle Is Proprietary Now, But It Will Become Widely Available to Others

AMD Explains Why Mantle Is Not a New 3dfx Glide

by Anton Shilov
10/03/2013 | 11:20 PM

In a surprising move, Advanced Micro Devices introduced its own low-level application programming interface designed specifically for GCN [graphics core next] architecture of AMD Radeon graphics chips. The company, which has always criticized proprietary technologies, claims that development of Mantle API was inevitability and claims that eventually it may become an industry-standard.

 

“I think at this stage it makes sense for us to develop Mantle, at least in its current form, because nobody knows our hardware at the lowest level best than we do. So for us to have to do that for alternative graphics hardware [would be] almost impossible,” said Ritche Corpus, AMD’s director of software alliances and developer relations, in an interview with VR-Zone web-site.

Mantle, a cross-platform application programming interface (that will only support Windows operating system initially) designed specifically for graphics processing units based on graphics core next (GCN) architecture, presenting a deeper level of hardware optimization. Being low-level API, Mantle can bypass all the bottlenecks modern PC/API architectures; according to AMD, Mantle enables nine times more draw calls per second than DirectX and OpenGL thanks to lower CPU overhead. AMD and EA/DICE announced a Mantle renderer for the forthcoming Battlefield 4 game in December, 2013. Mantle will be detailed further at the AMD Developer Summit, APU13, taking place in November.

Two main purposes of Mantle are to speed up game performance on AMD hardware and possibly introduce exclusive visual effects. 3dfx Glide, proprietary API by 3dfx, served the same purposes over a decade ago, back in the 1990s. Nonetheless, AMD does not seem to want to compare Mantle to Glide. Moreover, AMD hopes that eventually Mantle will be an industrial standard.

“The plan is, long term, once we have developed Mantle into a state where it’s stable and in a state where it can be shared openly [we will make it available]. The long term plan is to share and create the spec and SDK and make it widely available. Our thinking is: there’s nothing that says that someone else could develop their own version of Mantle and mirror what we’ve done in how to access the lower levels of their own silicon. I think what it does is it forges the way, the easiest way,” explained Mr. Corpus.

It is interesting to note that Mantle was generally a joint project between AMD and game developer DICE (a subsidiary of Electronic Arts). The first fruits of Mantle will be renderer for Battlefield 4 as well as renderers for other Frostbite 3 engine-based titles (new Command and Conquer, Need for Speed Rivals, etc.).

“Mantle is truly a collaboration and I’ll tell you [DICE’s Johan Andersson] was at the forefront of that at the very beginning. A lot of the feedback on the development of Mantle came from him. We also solicited feedback from a lot of other partners that we haven’t announced yet. At this stage, Battlefield 4 and FrostBite 3 are the closest to deliver something today. I think, as I mentioned before, the goal would be to provide the spec and SDK publicly,” said Mr. Corpus.