AMD Launches GPUOpen Sofware Development Package

AMD’s open source philosophy deserves a great deal of credit especially when you consider the competition utilizes proprietary features as demonstrated by NVIDIA Gameworks. During CES 2016, I had the pleasure of playing Star Wars Battlefront on AMD’s upcoming Polaris architecture. This open ideology is very impressive and showcases that AMD’s future chips are fully functional ahead of their launch. In contrast to this, details about Pascal are almost non-existent barring a few marketing photographs. Today, AMD released a huge blog post about their latest initiative entitled, GPUOpen. Here is a detailed run-down of the project in AMD’s words:

“GPUOpen is composed of two areas: Games & CGI for game graphics and content creation (which is the area I am involved with), and Professional Compute for high-performance GPU computing in professional applications.

GPUOpen is based on three principles:

The first is to provide code and documentation allowing PC developers to exert more control on the GPU. Current and upcoming GCN architectures (such as Polaris) include many features not exposed today in PC graphics APIs, and GPUOpen aims to empower developers with ways to leverage some of those features. In addition to generating quality or performance advantages such access will also enable easier porting from current-generation consoles (XBox One and PlayStation 4) to the PC platform.

The second is a commitment to open source software. The game and graphics development community is an active hub of enthusiastic individuals who believe in the value of sharing knowledge. Full and flexible access to the source of tools, libraries and effects is a key pillar of the GPUOpen philosophy. Only through open source access are developers able to modify, optimize, fix, port and learn from software. The goal? Encouraging innovation and the development of amazing graphics techniques and optimizations in PC games.

The third is a collaborative engagement with the developer community. GPUOpen software is hosted on public source code repositories such as GitHub as a way to enable sharing and collaboration. Engineers from different functions will also regularly write blog posts about various GPU-related topics, game technologies or industry news.”

This is fantastic news for developers and assists the optimization process through open source tools. In theory, the GPUOpen model allows developers free reign to properly understand the hardware and code in a much more efficient manner. Time will tell how popular this endeavour is, but it looks like a really good idea to build a strong relationship between developers and AMD users.

We Wave Good Bye to AMD’s Mantle

AMD had a brief moment with their low-level API Mantle, but it looks like Mantle won’t be a term used for much longer. With DirectX 12 just around the corner and the next generation OpenGL, dubbed Vulcan, there just isn’t any room for it anymore.

Nvidia denied to back it from the start, which isn’t any surprise at all. If AMD created it, they won’t touch it – at least that’s the way it looks to the outside world. DirectX 12 and Vulcan are pretty much doing the same thing, so it would be a waste to continue it for AMD.

That doesn’t mean that they’re completely ceasing the support and AMD will continue to support Mantle for its GCN graphics cards, but they have ceased all further optimizations for future GPUs.

“AMD has confirmed that while they are not outright dropping Mantle support, they have ceased all further Mantle optimization. Of particular note, the Mantle driver has not been optimized at all for GCN 1.2, which includes not just R9 Fury X, but R9 285, R9 380, and the Carrizo APU as well. Mantle titles will probably still work on these products,” Anandtech wrote

GCN 1.2 includes all the new top cards such as the R9 Fury X, R9 285, and R9 380. It is a bit sad to see AMD stopping this development, but it is an understandable decision and it might very well have set the new standards in motions by its pure existence. So it wasn’t for nothing.

Thank You DSOgaming for providing us with this information

AMD R9 290X and Titan X Go Head to Head With DX12

DirectX 12 support has just been added to 3DMark and the results look too good to be true! Delivering performance up to 20x faster than DirectX 11 in certain tests. While Nvidia cards gain a lot from the new API, AMD cards have benefitted from the biggest improvement.

The R9 290X goes head to head with the new flagship Nvidia Titan X, even gaining a small lead in some cases. Looking further back, the 290X pulls a 33% lead on the GTx 980, making DirectX 12 a fantastic upgrade for any gamer with a high-end AMD or Nvidia card.

With DirectX 11, the Titan X and the 290X show some very exciting figures. The Titan X maxed out at an impressive 740 thousand draw calls per second, but a significantly more impressive 13 million, 419 thousand calls with DirectX 12; you don’t need to be Einstein to work out that that’s a huge improvement. The 290X managed 935 thousand and 13 million, 474 thousand in DX11 and DX12 respectively, beating out the Titan X in both respects and even beating out the Mantle API by 8%.

When it comes to the FPS results, we see the GTX 980 scoring 2.75FPS in DX11 and 15.67FPS in DX12, a massive improvement overall. However, that still falls short of the 290X, which clocked up 19.12FPS in DX12, although still short of the 20.88FPS it scored using Mantle.

DirectX 12 shows impressive scaling with extra CPU cores, although performance seems to taper off beyond six cores. Mantle has more significant gains here, being able to take advantage of eight cores. What is interesting is that enabling Hyper-Threading actually seems to hinder performance, DirectX 12 much prefers physical cores to boost performance.

Of course, the thing that’s most important to remember is that these are synthetic benchmarks. They give a nice ballpark idea of how the API can improve performance on these cards, but they’re little indication of real-world gaming and rendering performance. The API’s, drivers and in the case of Windows 10, the operating system that they’re operating on are all still in their infancy. We expect improved performance in the coming months and there’s even a chance that a new driver update could quickly put the Nvidia cards back on the top spot.

What’s great to see is that all the hype about DirectX 12 is finally starting to show some real world figures, and they’re very impressive.

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information.

AMD Mantle Comes to an End

AMD’s Mantle set a lot of things in motion in the gaming industry and now it looks like it is coming to an end, at least in its current form. AMD will continue to back the companies who invested in it and created games for the API, but its usefulness in the current form has come to an end.

DirectX 12 is taking over the job that Mantle does right now and AMD will instead continue down that road as well as help to develop the next generation of OpenGL, called GLnext.

This news comes from an AMD blog post by Raja Koduri that also promises the release of a 450-page programming guide and API reference for Mantle later this month. Finally, we’ll be able to get a closer look at how Mantle works and how it made a difference.

  1. AMD will continue to support our trusted partners that have committed to Mantle in future projects, like Battlefield Hardline, with all the resources at our disposal.
  2. Mantle’s definition of “open” must widen. It already has, in fact. This vital effort has replaced our intention to release a public Mantle SDK, and you will learn the facts on Thursday, March 5 at GDC 2015.
  3. Mantle must take on new capabilities and evolve beyond mastery of the draw call. It will continue to serve AMD as a graphics innovation platform available to select partners with custom needs.
    The Mantle SDK also remains available to partners who register in this co-development and evaluation program. However, if you are a developer interested in Mantle “1.0” functionality, we suggest that you focus your attention on DirectX 12 or GLnext.

We’ve already heard what DirectX 12 is capable off, so it’s no surprise that AMD is backing this road. This is going to be an interesting year, there is no doubt about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1lHeLN1UGs

Thanks to AMD for providing us with this information

AMD Has Plans to Optimize Their Drivers for Better CPU Performance

AMD’s GPU drivers aren’t on level with Nvidia’s when it comes to the CPU load created and AMD knows that. They created the Mantle 3D API that is basically just a CPU optimization in disguise, but it might not be all developers that wish to implement it in their games and software.

AMD is fully aware of this and they’re now looking for an engineer to better optimize graphics drivers for CPUs via a new LinkedIn job post. A more CPU-efficient driver across the standard APIs is something AMD could benefit greatly from, and so could all of their users. So let us hope that they find a great talent to take on the task, maybe even you?

Thanks to TechPowerUp for providing us with this information

 

DX12 Can Handle 600K Draw Calls, Increasing AMD GPU Performance by 600%

DirectX 12, due to ship with the forthcoming Microsoft operating system Windows 10, is able to handle 600K draw calls and boost AMD card performance by 600%, according to Stardock CEO Brad Wardell.

The claims come courtesy of The Inner Circle, a group of Xbox One gamers who cover related news, interviews, and rumours associated with their console of choice. The Inner Circle interviewed Wardell on their latest podcast.

Wardell revealed that DX12 can manage 600K draw calls – essentially, the amount of objects that can feature on-screen at one time – comparing it to the meagre 6K draw calls that DX9 could render.

The AMD GPU claim of 600% improved performance is based on an Anandtech benchmark, running Oxide’s Swarm Tech demo on both DX11 and DX12 on an AMD Radeon R9 290X. DX11 ran at 7fps, whereas DX12 ran at 43fps, beating out AMD’s own API, Mantle, which managed 41fps.

Here’s a summary of everything discussed with Wardell, provided by NeoGAF member Livelife (verbatim):

-Anandtech AMD cards 7fps to 43fps running Nitrous engine DX12 engine.
-600% performance increase on AMD cards running full DX12 game engine.
-CPU cores n their performance more important in the future games .
-Directx 12 on Xbox Nov.
-Directx 12 runs better than Mantle on AMD cards.
-Dx9 uses max 6000 draw calls vs 600,000 on dx12.
-Naysayers are eating crow!
-“Marketing chose 40% increase slogan as real gains were too unbelievable for the masses to digest”
-limitless light sources in games.
-1000+ characters AI characters on screen.
-toy story/ lord of the rings graphics no deffered rendering.
-future Xbox cpu bound exclusives DX12 games to have these gains however dx12 games initially 30% gains as they transition from Dx11 to full new dx12 game engines using esram etc
-Not so much games for cross platform games.
-Fable Legends Dx12 game
-AMD/MS has mega DX12 news at GDC.
-Stardock developed Starswarm dx12 demo in 2 months. Starswarm would have similar performance gains on Xbox one i.e 600%. They have something major at GDC in the Microsoft booth.
-Stardock are developing DX12 game engine “Nitrous”. Star Control game will make sense console. They will license it to 3rd parties in future after they release 2 games on Nitrous engine.
-Phil Spencer managing expectations, as in November with DX12 on Xbox….. the games released then won’t look much different then until the new DX 12 game engines.

Source: DSO Gaming

Mantle and DX12 Will Give Major Boost to Multi-GPU Systems, Says AMD

Multi-GPU systems will offer superpowered graphics cards, with the help of Mantle and DirectX 12, according to AMD. The combination of AMD’s Mantle API and Microsoft’s DirectX 12 could allow multi-GPU card to access the full RAM allocation, instead of being split between each GPU.

Robert Hallock, Head of Global Marketing at AMD, discussed the future of multi-GPU cards on Twitter, posting the following text in the form of an image:

In a “normal” graphics API, a system called “alternative-frame rendering” is performed with multi-GPU, In order for this to function properly, both GPUs need a complete copy of what’s going on in the game. Each GPU harbouring a complete copy of the game’s data in RAM is why we don’t get the combined RAM as a large pool. We “must” do this because most APIs don’t give developers sufficiently explicit control to intelligently assign data to each frame buffer.

Mantle is the first graphics API to transcend this behaviour and allow that much-needed explicit control. For example, you could do split-frame rendering with each GPU and its respective framebuffer handling 1/2 the screen. IN this way, the GPUs have extremely minimal information, allowing both GPUs to effectively behave as a single larger/faster GPU with a correspondingly large pool of memory. With Mantle, you could get very fine-grained, and start calling for specific objects to be assigned to each GPU. You have control of the individual GPU, and all functions/resources therein with Mantle.

Ultimately, he [sic] point is that gamers believe that two 4GB cards can’t possibly give you 8GB of useful memory. That may have been true for the last 25 years of PC gaming, but that’s not true with Mantle, and it’s not true with the low-overhead APIs that follow in Mantle’s footsteps.

Hallock gave no indication when AMD plans to implement its Mantle/DirectX 12 combination, but his open discussion on the matter suggests that it is already a work-in-progress.

Source: Bit Tech

New Tool Coming To Benchmark DirectX 12, 11 and Mantle

We saw some impressive figures from Microsoft this week, making huge promises about the performance of DirectX 12. However, you’ll soon be able to test out the new API for yourself on your own hardware.

Futuremark will be adding a new update to their 3DMark suite called “API Overhead Feature Test” that will let you test DirectX 12 against the current DirectX 11, as well as the AMD Mantle API.

“Games make thousands of draw calls per frame, but each one creates performance-limiting overhead for the CPU. APIs with less overhead can handle more draw calls and produce richer visuals. The 3DMark API Overhead feature test is the world’s first independent test for comparing the performance of DirectX 12, Mantle, and DirectX 11. See how many draw calls your PC can handle with each API before the frame rate drops below 30 fps.”

No exact release date just yet, but we do know it will be “coming soon.”

AMD Catalyst Omega Driver Released Early, Then Pulled

On Friday, AMD’s latest GPU driver, the Catalyst Omega, was prematurely released on – then subsequently pulled from – AMD’s website. The early release was presumably accidental, since links to the driver and to a number of tech site articles announcing the news have been deleted. But, while we await it’s (re)release, we have the Catalyst Omega’s impressive specs to pore over.

Catalyst Omega is said to raise high-end GPU performance by up to 19%, and a staggering 29% on APU cards. The new driver boasts a number of additional features, such as Virtual Super Resolution, which renders games at 4K then scales them down to the monitor’s respective resolution, making anti-aliasing obsolete.

Other video features include Fluid Motion to reduce judder and increase interpolation, Contour Removal to remove compression artifacts cleanly, and 1080p Detail Enhancement to scale up and sharpen images for larger monitors.

The treats don’t end there, though, with support for Gaming Evolved client specific features (notably FPS measure and streaming) , TressFX Hair 3.0, OpenCL 2.0, and Mantle game capture. Using EyeInfinity, Catalyst Omega is capable of powering 24 monitor arrays on 4 GPU systems. FreeSync, Alienware Graphics Amplifier, and 5K support is also incorporated.

There is no news yet on when the Catalyst Omega driver will officially be made available.

Source: Gameranx

Dragon Age: Inquisition Specs Revealed, Promises 4K, Mantle and More.

BioWare have been working hard on the latest entry in the massively popular Dragon Age series and with the November 18th release date rapidly approaching, PC gamers have been eager to find out the answer to the age-old question “can I run it?”

BioWare have a good history with PC gamers, so we’re expecting them to put in the extra effort with their game engine to take full advantage of high-end PC gaming hardware, and the developer have promised that they’re fine tuning the game for keyboard and mouse gameplay, as well as all the new things that excite PC gamers these days; such as 4K resolution support and AMD Mantle.

The system requirements look pretty respectable without being too crazy, the now quite old HD 4870 and GeForce 8800 GT should be enough to get you going, although I wouldn’t expect the game to look very good on this level of hardware.

Minimum:

  • OS: Windows 7 or 8.1 64-bit
  • CPU: AMD quad-core CPU @ 2.5 GHz, Intel quad-core CPU @ 2.0 GHz
  • System RAM: 4 GB
  • Graphics CARD: AMD Radeon HD 4870, NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT
  • Graphics Memory: 512 MB
  • Hard Drive: 26 GB
  • DirectX 10

The recommended specifications are a little more high-end, requiring a 2GB R9 270 or GeForce GTX 660 and while I suspect this will be enough to run the game on high settings, 4K resolutions and beyond with maxed out graphics will certainly demand something with a little more grunt and more VRAM.

Recommended:

  • OS: Windows 7 or 8.1 64-bit
  • CPU: AMD six core CPU @ 3.2 GHz, Intel quad-core CPU @ 3.0 GHz
  • System RAM: 8 GB
  • Graphics Card: AMD Radeon HD 7870 or R9 270, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660
  • Graphics Memory: 2 GB
  • Hard Drive: 26 GB
  • DirectX 11

Thank you Origin for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Origin.

Interview: AMD’s Richard Huddy Responds To Criticisms of Mantle

AMD’s Mantle API is an interesting development in the PC Gaming industry, it allows developers to leverage low-overhead designs to improve the performance of their games on AMD hardware. Around a month ago we put AMD’s Mantle to the test in a trio of games and revealed some impressive results: Mantle was capable of boosting average frame-rates on AMD based systems by as much as 42.7%, with the lowest gain still being a healthy 13.6%. In our analysis we came to the conclusion that Mantle is an impressive technology, although we weren’t sure about the future of Mantle and how its criticisms can be addressed. From browsing forums, engaging with our readers and even having discussions with other media outlets I came across numerous criticisms of Mantle. We thought that it would be interesting to hear AMD’s responses to these criticisms because there are certainly a lot of myths that need to be busted and records that need to be set straight with regards to Mantle.

With all that in mind enter Richard Huddy. AMD were kind enough to allow us to quiz Richard Huddy to get his rebuttals of common criticisms of Mantle. For those of you who don’t know who Richard Huddy is, let us briefly introduce him. Richard Huddy is AMD’s “Gaming Scientist” – that’s his current official title since he returned to AMD this year in June. Huddy had previously worked for AMD but departed in 2011 to work for Intel. Richard Huddy is a veteran of the PC graphics industry and he’s had an impact on developing DirectX and a variety of other visual effects as well as influencing Intel’s graphics roadmap. In his professional career so far Huddy has worked for 3DLabs, AMD, ATI, Intel and Nvidia. AMD’s Gaming Scientist has been in and out of the news a fair amount in the last few months, most notably for his public criticism of Nvidia’s Gameworks program. Today we are hoping for a less controversial discussion!

For our interview with Richard Huddy I compiled a list of 6 questions and statements that encapsulated criticisms of Mantle that I had come across fairly frequently. I then pitched these to Richard Huddy for answering, so let’s get stuck straight in and see what Richard Huddy had to say in our interview:

Q1) Mantle only works with AMD hardware, as a result what incentives are there for more game developers to adopt Mantle when Nvidia and Intel have a larger share of the PC graphics market? Evidence of which has been presented by Jon Peddie Research and Steam’s hardware survey several times.

Right now Mantle only works with AMD hardware, yes, that’s true.  But AMD has created what could become the foundation of a new Open Standard.  That means that AMD is considering publishing an open SDK later this year, and at that time it would be up to NVIDIA and Intel (and anyone else who wants to consider this path) to decide whether they want to adopt it.  If they do so, then they should be able to show performance wins like we have done – and that’s good for all PC gamers.

We already have  somewhere in the region of 70 registered developers actively working with Mantle (7 with publicly-announced or released projects, so it’s pretty clear that Mantle is very attractive to the PC development community.  That number of 70 is up very significantly from forty in May.  And remember that Microsoft announced DirectX® 12 in March this year – so it’s clear that developers see good reason to move to Mantle.  Indeed our momentum with Mantle is only increasing – and the simple reason is that it helps solve developers’ problems.  Developers want to unlock the potential of the hardware – and Mantle lets them do exactly that.

The publicly announced titles for 2014 include:-  Battlefield 4, Thief, Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare, Dragon Age Inquisition, Civilization Beyond Earth, Battlefield 4 Hardline.  There have also been announcements by Crytek that they are including support in Cryengine and Oxide Games said they’re doing the same with their Nitrous Engine.

Q2) Mantle can act as a stepping stone from DirectX 11 to DirectX 12, as AMD’s whitepaper explains, but what incentives are there for game developers to use Mantle as a stepping stone when they can just miss it out altogether and go straight to DirectX 12?

I guess the incentives for jumping to Mantle comes in several guises…

(1)    It’s a handy stepping stone to DirectX 12.

(2)    It’s possible to address the many millions of gamers using AMD hardware right now, rather than waiting for a new version of DirectX which is not scheduled to ship until the end of 2015.

(3)    Any extra features in AMD hardware now, or in the future, will be accessible through Mantle now or in a future version.

Q3) “Mantle will lose out to DirectX 12 simply because Intel, Nvidia and other game developers have more reason to trust Microsoft than AMD”. What is your response to that?

Well, I guess you must be underestimating how much trust AMD has right now.  The large number of active developers is a clear indication that games developers see Mantle as a great solution to some of their important problems.  You might want to talk to some of the publicly disclosed advocates of Mantle.  They can explain their position themselves, and it’s clear that there is a great deal of passionate support for Mantle.

We can see exactly that, in Oxide Games blog about the next generation of API’s where Dan Baker answers the question in his blog (http://www.oxidegames.com/2014/05/21/next-generation-graphics-apis/). “Does D3D12 mitigate the need for Mantle? Not at all. Though it is difficult to deteminre without more complete information on D3D12, our expectation is that Mantle will have the edge of D3D12 in terms of CPU performance. This is because that GCN architecture by AMD is the most general of all the current GPU’s and therefore the driver needs to do a bit less”

We have also seen similar from Kevin Floyer-Lea from Rebellion in his interview with dsogaming.com – “The bottom line is that we’ll support and use whichever APIs give our players the best performance. D3D12 is definitely a step in the right direction in that regard. As it currently stands there is no reason to see why D3D12 and Mantle can’t co-exist – especially if it turns out that D3D12 is limited to newer versions of Windows. If nothing else Mantle is establishing the importance of low-level, minimal APIs, for which we’re very thankful.”

Q4) “With Mantle AMD undercut Microsoft, AMD just wanted to be the first to produce a low-overhead API”. How far would you agree with this?

I think I’d put this very differently.  AMD didn’t “undercut” Microsoft, instead AMD lead the way in bringing low level APIs into the 21st Century.

Q5) “Mantle cannot succeed overall without getting traction in the console market”. Is this true?

We have already validated the initial success and future outlook for Mantle with support for Crytek, Thief, Battlefield 4, and the more than 70 or so active developers now supporting Mantle. I’ll give you two more numbers to demonstrate the success of Mantle.

Number one – we have (as I mentioned)somewhere in the region of seventy active registered developers.  I think that’s clear proof of traction if you want it.

Number two – we expect to have more games published in Mantle’s first year than there were games published using DirectX 11 in its first year.  That’s amazing.  As you mention AMD is not the only player in the PC graphics market – but we are clearly having an impact that’s simply astonishing.

Q6) “The creation of Mantle was a selfish move designed to reduce the importance of the CPU in gaming with the ultimate goal of making AMD CPUs more competitive with Intel CPUs.” Does this have any substance?

No, this has no substance.

Having Mantle is a public spirited move that allows games developers to fully expose the potential of any hardware which runs Mantle.  When we publish the full SDK that will means that Mantle will allow Intel and NVIDIA to fully expose any untapped potential in their hardware too  Mantle is all about solving developers’ problems.  I find it hard to see how giving games players a better experience on our hardware can be seen as selfish.  It’s the developers and the players who benefit.

Reducing the importance of the CPU in gaming is a direction that must be considered.. AMD’s idea was so good, that we’re seeing others take a similar path as they’ve realised that doubling down on the GPU as the sole arbiter of gaming performance is a great idea for gamers.

Before Mantle it was often the case that DirectX 11 or OpenGL based games would have artificial bottlenecks in them which meant that the full potential of the platform was under-utilized.  Mantle does a great job of removing those bottlenecks and allowing the games developer to deliver everything the platform is capable of…  It’s a win for developers and it’s a win for games players..  What’s not to like?

So there you have it: AMD’s Richard Huddy has certainly done a good job at robustly defending some criticisms of AMD’s Mantle API. There are probably many more questions about Mantle that remain unanswered but we certainly think this has been a good start. We’d like to say a big thank to AMD’s Richard Huddy for taking the time to rebut criticisms of Mantle that we presented him with in this interview.

Edit: AMD’s Richard Huddy also wanted us to mention the fact that AMD will continue to support all modern Windows operating systems with its Mantle API: notably Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. As we’ve written before DirectX 12 is likely to be a Windows 9 exclusive.

We’d be very interested to hear what you, our readers, think about Mantle in general. Furthermore, has this interview made you see criticisms of Mantle differently? Do you think the criticisms were adequately rebutted? Are there any other criticisms you think we should have addressed? Please do let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Nvidia Speak Their Mind About Mantle

In a recent podcast from MaximumPC, Nvidia finally spoke out about AMD’s Mantle and best we can tell, they couldn’t care less about it. Nvidia Engineer Tom Petersen and Senior Director of Engineering Rev Lebaradian were on hand to discuss the topic and according to them, there are no big benefits from using it (mantle).

What is interesting is here at eTeknix know for a fact there are tangible benefits to using Mantle, but Nvidia may just be down playing the gains to save their own asses, especially given that they’ll be pegging their performance gains on DirectX12, which is likely capable of rendering Mantle obsolete.

“We don’t know much about Mantle, we are not part of Mantle. And clearly if they see value there they should go for it. And if they can convince game developers to go for it, go for it. It’s not an Nvidia thing. The key thing is to develop great technologies that deliver benefits to gamers. Now in the case of Mantle it’s not so clear to me that there is a lot of obvious benefits there.”

“It’s possible to pull performance out of DirectX, we’re approving that, and so you can argue that maybe it’s not a good idea to put extra effort into yet another API that does the same thing essentially. Feature wise there is nothing more.”

“DX12 is coming and a lot of the features, the benefits of having a lower level API (the extra calls and stuff), it’s going to be in DX12.”

From what we’ve seen, Mantle can really pull a lot of benefits for slower hardware, although if you’ve got a GTX 780Ti or R9 290X powered system, gaining a few FPS is hardly going to be noticeable for you anyway. Ball is in your court Nvidia, time to stop talking and get your API in line, then we’ll see if Mantle really is a waste of time.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/aG2kIUerD4c[/youtube]

Thank you MaximumPC for providing us with this information.

Testing AMD’s Mantle: Battlefield 4, Thief and PvZ Garden Warfare

Introduction


“Mantle is Game Changing” is AMD’s tagline for their newest low-overhead API. Mantle has been in the news constantly since AMD publicly released the concept on September 26th last year in their public live stream. The biggest claim to fame of this new low-overhead API is its use in EA’s Battlefield 4 blockbuster and the support it has from EA’s famous FrostBite 3 Engine. However, what is all the fuss about? How does Mantle actually perform in practice? Why should you even care about it? These are questions we are hoping to address today.

What’s Mantle all about?

So we’ve briefly introduced Mantle as a “thing” but at a basic technical level, what is Mantle? Mantle is an API, or application programming interface, that reduces the level of CPU workload required during gaming. Mantle does this by offloading tasks traditionally done by the CPU to the GPU and by simplifying the communication between the two. Compared to DirectX, Mantle uses less CPU capacity for communication between a video game and its graphics card resources, as such CPU bottlenecks can be reduced or removed by using the Mantle API. In short Mantle is an attempt to bring “console-like” optimisations to the desktop PC platform.

Who can make use of Mantle?

The AMD Mantle API is currently only supported on AMD GCN products: that’s 28nm HD 7000 or Rx 2xx series graphics cards and Kaveri APUs at the time of writing. For Mantle to work the game must be programmed in the Mantle API. This is the main reason why AMD is working so hard to push its API among game developers; it cannot go anywhere without developer adoption. The Mantle API is currently in the closed beta stage, but upon release it will be fully open source and made available to all game developers, hardware vendors and industry figures.

What games does Mantle support?

Mantle is supported by a range of top-tier game titles, as of writing these are:

  • Battlefield 4
  • Battlefield Hardline
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare
  • Civilization: Beyond Earth
  • Star Citizen
  • Thief
  • Sniper Elite III

Mantle is supported by the Nitrous, Frostbite 3 and CRYENGINE game engines meaning the potential is there to expand it to many more game titles in the future that use those engines. The only three games on that list that are currently available to buy right now, with Mantle support working right now, are Battlefield 4, Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare and Thief. So you guessed it….today we are putting those three to the test.

Full details of game support can be found on AMD’s regularly updated list right here.

Why is Mantle important?

Mantle is important because it is the first significant attempt by anyone in the PC industry to dramatically reduce overhead on a graphics API. Although not specifically confirmed by Microsoft, Mantle has been one of the influential driving forces behind DirectX 12. DirectX 12 has been announced by Microsoft but is still in development. DirectX 12 will be Microsoft’s successor to DirectX 11.x and will also be a low-overhead API like Mantle. AMD claims Mantle will be easily “portable” between DX11 and DX12 so anyone who develops for Mantle now will be able to easily move to the next DirectX when it is released. As such Mantle is not an attempt to undercut the DirectX 12 API, but an attempt to fast track the development and adoption of low-overhead APIs.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0oz-EonmBw[/youtube]

GTA V For PC May Get Mantle Support

According to a new report the upcoming PC title by Rockstar Games, Grand Theft Auto V, will be coming to the PC platform with AMD Mantle API support. Apparently Mantle support has been agreed for GTA V, but is still yet to be formally announced by either AMD or Rockstar Games. AMD getting Mantle support with GTA V could be a huge win for AMD on the PC platform given the popularity of the game. The Mantle support could be a great win for gamers too given how CPU demanding GTA IV was. This could be a perfect opportunity for AMD to gain an edge over its competition while the Mantle API is still in its closed beta form.

The source also details other upcoming Mantle supported titles such as Sims 4, Star Citizen, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Star Wars: Battlefront, Homefront: The Revolution, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Sleeping Dogs: Triad Wars. Check the full list of released, unreleased confirmed and unreleased pending mantle titles at the source below.

Source: Videocardz.com

Image #1 courtesy of Rockstar Games, image #2 courtesy of AMD

Locked Kaveri A10-7800 Launched, Features 512 GCN Cores and 65W TDP

AMD has reportedly launched its locked Kaveri APU, the A10-7800, having it show similar specs as the A10-7850K. The only noticeable difference between the latter is that the A10-7800 has its cores locked, having its main advantage seen in the 65W TDP, 30W less than the A10-7850K and A10-7700K.

The A10-7800 is based on the Kaveri architecture, featuring the series’ full shader count as well as the Radeon R7 series architecture, having full 512 GCN 2.0 core count. In terms of CPU performance, the A10-7800 features Steamroller cores divided into two blocks, having support for both AMD’s Mantle API as well as DirectX 11.2 and support for DDR3-1866 MHz. The APU is shown to be clocked at 3.5 GHz, boasting it to 3.9 GHz during Turbo, in addition to the 720 MHz clock GPU-wise.

Comparing with the A10-7850K, the A10-7800 appears to feature a 200 MHz boost on base clock and 100 MHz boost during Turbo, while having its locked cores compensate with the 30W TDP difference. Even so, the chip is a valuable piece for casual gaming, having AMD’s Mantle support to give it a kick as well. Aside from the latter, the price is said to be more attractive, having it set somewhere between $140 and $150.

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of WCCFTech

EA Adds AMD Mantle Support To Three New Game Titles

AMD recently announced that it will be partnering with EA to bring Mantle to new game titles. AMD already works with EA to bring Mantle to titles such as Battlefield 4 but in the near future AMD and EA will also be cooperating to bring Mantle to Battlefield Hardline, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. All three titles are powered by EA’s Frostbite 3 engine which incidentally also powers Battlefield 4. Those three games now mean that the Mantle API is supported by more than 40 games.

AMD’s Mantle API continues to pick up speed with its adoption. AMD’s Mantle has had some notable successes of late such as being supported by the CryEngine in March (the same engine used by most Crytek games and featured in some Far Cry titles) and being supported by the upcoming Civilization: Beyond Earth title. Despite Microsoft’s announcement of an equivalent low-level API back in late March, DirectX 12, AMD’s Mantle has continued to receive extended attention from game developers.

Source: AMD PR

Image courtesy of eTeknix

AMD Attacks Nvidia’s Gameworks, Claims Secret Contracts Are Anti-AMD

AMD’s Graphics Executive Richard Huddy is a well respected figure in the industry. Huddy has worked for ATI, AMD, Nvidia, Intel and is now back at AMD. He is also considered one of the pioneers of the DirectX API so it’s fair to say that his opinion matters. Huddy had some pretty critical things to say about Nvidia’s Gameworks program, claiming that Nvidia are using exclusivity contracts with game developers, hidden by NDAs, to disadvantage AMD. Furthermore, he claims he has evidence from various independent software vendors that those NDA-bound contracts are the reason why many game developers, particularly those in the Gameworks program, cannot work with AMD to optimise the game engines for AMD hardware. The most recent example of this is obviously the whole saga of AMD graphics cards running WatchDogs poorly.

Huddy thinks Gameworks is bad news for the industry because it is closed source, game developers receive code from Nvidia in a pre-compiled DLL forms whereas with Mantle the entire code is open source for game developers. Huddy claims the idea of using pre-compiled DLLs is a foreign idea to the games industry and is significantly more inefficient than allowing game developers build what they want from the ground up with the source code of an API. The heart of the concern is that Nvidia-written DLLs are being used for games that consumers with AMD graphics cards will play, as well as games that review sites will use to benchmark AMD hardware. All in all Nvidia’s Gameworks program is accused of locking down and fragmenting the gaming industry. It would be interesting to hear Nvidia go on record and rebut some of AMD’s claims.

What are your opinions on Nvidia Gameworks?

Source: MaximumPC

Image courtesy of Nvidia

Intel Approached AMD About Access To Mantle

According to an AMD executive, Richard Huddy, Intel has approached the company about getting access to AMD’s Mantle technology. Intel has confirmed that it made such a request but did so for “experimental” purposes. Intel claims it remains committed to “open standards” like Microsoft’s DirectX API. AMD refused Intel’s request on the basis that Mantle is still in its closed beta stages, AMD will open up the Mantle API when version 1.0 is completed. the public release is expected before the end of this year and AMD’s Huddy said that Intel will be able to access it once that happens. AMD is hoping its Mantle API will be able to make some ground in the market before Microsoft’s DirectX 12 API starts to seep into new game releases from 2015. Intel’s full statement was as follows:

“At the time of the initial Mantle announcement, we were already investigating rendering overhead based on game developer feedback,” an Intel spokesman said in an email. “Our hope was to build consensus on potential approaches to reduce overhead with additional data. We have publicly asked them to share the spec with us several times as part of examination of potential ways to improve APIs and increase efficiencies. At this point though we believe that DirectX 12 and ongoing work with other industry bodies and OS vendors will address the issues that game developers have noted.”

Source: PCWorld

Image courtesy of AMD

AMD Hints at Steam OS / Linux Release of Their Mantle API

AMD have fired some shots over at the Nvidia team with a recent statement on their blog. They imply that AMD will be working with Linux much sooner than Nvidia will see any benefit of their latest DirectX 12 API, giving AMD an upper hand as Linux gains strength, especially in light of the Linux based SteamOS.

SteamOS and Mantle are a perfect pairing, as the lightweight OS and the to-the-metal nature of the API could offer tangible performance gains for gamers. This is also true of DirectX 12, but with Mantle having been put into practice much sooner than the new Microsoft DirectX 12, it certainly gives AMD a head start, not to mention it could be as much as 18 months before we see DirectX 12 implemented into AAA titles, Mantle is already here.

“On March 20 Microsoft announced DirectX® 12, the next major evolution of its own game API. This is terrific news because it really draws attention to the value of low-level programming and Mantle’s leading contribution. With DirectX 12 games still over 18 months away and no alternatives in sight for Linux gamers, Mantle’s future looks bright” said AMD on their blog.

The important part to takeaway from that is “no alternatives in sight for Linux gamers, Mantle’s future looks bright.” AMD are practically spelling it out here, they’re working on Linux and it could be what it really takes to push Linux towards being a more fully fledged gaming platform. Either way, it doesn’t sound like we’ll have to wait too long to find out more.

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information.

 

AMD Has Added Sniper Elite III To Its Never Settle Forever Bundle Gold and Silver Tiers

The Never Settle Forever Bundle has been a big attraction for gamers, having big AAA, AA and even Indie titles up for grabs to any user purchasing a select AMD graphics cards or gamers using the AMD Gaming Evolved app, through which they can exchange points for sweepstake tickets in order to win games and other products offered.

This time, AMD has added one of the most awaited AAA titles, Sniper Elite III, to its Silver and Gold tiers. For those who are unaware of how the tiers work, AMD has three types of tiers available. The Gold tier, having the ability to choose up to 3 games, is given to owners of the Radeon R9 295X2 / 290 and 280 models, while Radeon R7 260 and R9 270 owners will receive a Silver tier, granting them access to two game titles. Even owners of the Radon R5 250 and R7 240 will be grated access to a Bronze tier, however this will not include the Sniper Elite III title in the game selection menu.

Alternatively, AMD Gaming Evolved users can purchase up to 15 sweepstake entry tickets per draw, having the Gold tier priced at 200 Points per entry and the Silver tier tagged at 100 Points per entry. To be noted is that the bundles change from time to time, with even more great game titles being added to them. This time, Sniper Elite III enters the stage in the Gold and Silver tiers.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjguP56ig_o[/youtube]

The title is said to take advantage of AMD’s Mantle API, dropping a lot of CPU load, ending in making the game playable even on entry-level AMD Radeon graphics solutions such as the ones found on the A-series Kaveri APUs. Sniper Elite III is said to have up to 12 player slots in terms of multiplayer sessions,where gamers can enjoy a tense adversarial multiplayer experience having up to five unique multiplayer modes, and 2 player co-op campaign modes, having an additional two collaborative co-op modes named Overwatch and Survival.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information
Images and video courtesy of Guru3D

AMD Demonstrates Mantle Can Be Easily Ported To DirectX 12

This may not be news in the traditional sense of the term, but I know this will be news to a lot of people. The guys over at WCCFTech have been doing a bit of digging around in the Mantle White Papers and Mantle presentations AMD have produced and they stumbled across a section specifically focused on explaining the process of porting Mantle to DirectX 12. Many people have criticised AMD for Mantle, calling it a “backhand” move and accusing them of trying to undercut Microsoft’s DirectX for their own personal gain, and latest development goes a fair way to contradict that argument. AMD does not see Mantle as a competitor to DirectX 12 and this is to be expected because AMD has no reason to try and compete with Microsoft’s DirectX 12 as developers will always pick Microsoft’s offering due to a variety of reasons (because of Microsoft’s reputation, because of Microsoft’s more advanced knowledge of the Windows OS, because of Microsoft’s involvement in consoles, because siding with AMD would be bias against Nvidia and so on). Not only that AMD has a significant vested interest in the success of DirectX 12, if it does well AMD does well in the PC gaming space, if it does badly AMD loses too. AMD is showing that the Mantle API acts as a “powerful shortcut” to DirectX 12 as we wait for it to be finished and released by Microsoft. In this sense AMD is basically saying developers should switch to Mantle from DirectX 11 and use Mantle until DirectX 12 comes out and then they can easily port over their games to that. This enables game developers to get the benefits of a low-level API now, and begin complex porting processes now, so that when DirectX 12 comes out in the future all the hard work is done and they can just make a fairly easy port.

However, the flip side to the Mantle argument is obviously: why bother? As a developer it is surely easy to port from DirectX 11 to DirectX 12 than it is to port from DirectX 11 to Mantle to DirectX 12. AMD is still going to have a very hard time encouraging a mass uptake of Mantle by constructing it as a stepping stone route. Not to mention that many developers will be tentative to make the move to DirectX 12 (let alone Mantle then DirectX 12) on the basis that no one wants to be an early adopter of a new API when it is buggy, has problems and is in its infancy In fact this is probably one of AMD’s assumptions that if they can get everyone to use Mantle as a “stepping stone”, by the time DirectX 12 comes out many game developers will not want to make another API migration so may delay it and end up staying on Mantle for a lot longer than expected, thus allowing AMD to pedestal the achievements of the Mantle API.

What are your opinions on the relationship between AMD’s Mantle and Microsoft’s DirectX 12?

Source: AMD #1 #2, Via: WCCFTech

Image courtesy of AMD

AMD Unleash The Catalyst 14.4 Release Candidate

The latest release candidate for AMD’s catalyst driver has been released, bringing the graphics driver software up to version 14.4. With the new update we can expect improved support for the latest card in the AMD gang, the Radeon R9 295X2, full Open GL 4.4 support and a few tweaks and fixes to Crossfire, Mantle and a various gaming titles.

With the Radeon R9 295X2 now available, we expect AMD will be making a lot of tweaks and improvements towards that cards improvements over the coming weeks and months given that its the new flagship card and first drivers hardly ever do a new GPU justice. Of course the flagship range is one thing, but 14.4 RC drivers offer support all the way back to the HD 5000 range.

Crysis 3, Far Cry 3, Annon 2080, Titanfall and Metro: Last Light all get improved Crossfire support, and those who like to tap into the multiscreen goodness of Eyefinity and 4K will be happy to hear of fixes for 3 x 1 mode on 4K panels, with other general improvements to clean up stuttering in some applications with mid-resolutions and V-Sync via Eyefinity.

Battlefield 4 has been giving a few tweaks in Mantle, fixing performance slowdown when task switching and fuzzy images when playing in rotated SLS resolution on A10 Kaveri systems.

AMD Catalyst 14.4 is available right here.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information.

Move Over Mantle! It’s Time For Microsoft To Party

AMD have been stirring up the world of PC gaming in a massive way recently, the launch of their Mantle API is one of the biggest changes to how game engines can access the hardware of a GPU in many years. Designed to run on Radeon graphics cards, as well as their new Kaveri APUs, Mantle allows games developers to have their software/games work more closely with the graphics hardware, allowing for better performance when compared with current solutions such as DirectX.

But wait, there’s more! Microsoft were hardly about to take this one lying down and this latest development that Microsoft have their own API updates in the works is likely the reason behind them not allowing Mantle to be used on the Radeon hardware in the Xbox One.

The new API from Microsoft for the Xbox One is known as Direct3D 11.X, and at Microsoft will be speaking at the upcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC), where they will be discussing “DirectX: Evolving Microsoft’s Graphics Platform.” The first big hint that Microsoft are going to follow suit and give AMD a run for their money, and the real winner here of course will be the consumer, because who doesn’t love the ideal of getting more performance from their graphics hardware!

“You also asked us for better tools so that you can squeeze every last drop of performance out of your PC, tablet, phone and console. Come learn our plans to deliver,” Microsoft said.

This move from Microsoft is to help reduce the API overhead on the GPU side of things to as close to zero as possible, freeing up more power for rendering and other tasks, if you thought Mantle was hot, then you ain’t seen nothing yet, especially now that there will be some extra competition on the market.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information.

Thief Mantle API Support Delayed Until First Patch In March, Brings TrueAudio as Well

There have been rumors about Thief getting Mantle support, and it appears that Edios Montreal has finally made it official. However, players are not to expect AMD’s Mantle API at launch. Edios Montreal has confirmed that Thief will be launched only with DirectX support.

However, a match stipulated to be released in March will bring Mantle support, as well as TrueAudio. This will make Thief the first game to use dedicated DSP found on GNC 1.1-based graphics cards like the Radeon R9 290, R9 290X, R7 260 and R7 260X. The TrueAudio technology is designed to shift advanced audio processing from the CPU to the GPU’s DSP, giving both better performance and more immersive audio experiences.

“We confident this patch will ensure the best and fastest Thief experience for AMD Radeon customers”. Edios Montreal stated. “We’re sorry we couldn’t bring this to you sooner – although we will use this time to bring you the very best experience possible and will let you know when the patch is ready.”

Edios was known to become partners with AMD to make Thief a Mantle-supported title back in November. Other games announcing support for Mantle API consist of Star Citizen and Sniper Elite 3, while EA’s Battlefield 4 already received the update a while ago.

Thank you Tech Spot for providing us with this information

Battlefield 4 Experiencing Washed-Out Textures In AMD’s Mantle

Mantle is reportedly creating washed-out graphics in EA’s Battlefield 4 title. Have you noticed it? No? Well, it’s probably because the elements affected by Mantle are the sky and background props.

WCCF has taken a notice in this matter as well, and as far as anyone can see, it might be a Post Processing issue at hand. It can be fixed easily (although we must assume that testing was made with the Mantle API before launch, to what extent is visible in the images below), though it takes time in figuring out a fix that will not generate other problems afterwards. It is worth pointing out, before everyone goes on talking about its flaws like they are experts in this matter, that the Mantle feature is in its early stages, and it will take some time and tweaking before it will be properly tune to work on all hardware and games.

There aren’t any other issues present, as far as anyone can see, however AMD is apparently aware of the issue and is in process of releasing newer drivers with more fixes and tweaks, eventually support for other AMD graphics cards as well. There is also a possibility that users might be facing other issues with the Mantle API compared to DirectX, however nothing can be fixed with one go, especially nothing this complex. Users are also complaining about crashes on the Star Swarm Demo benchmark, having AMD already working on a fix for that.

All in all, Mantle is still in its early stages and all major fixes are bound to be fixed as soon as it gets out of the Beta stages. Until then, we will just have to wait and get along with whatever issues might occur, as nothing in terms of software is perfect and a lot of work needs to be done before achieving something stable and enjoyable.

Thank you WCCF for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of WCCF

Mantle Officially Launched For Battlefield 4 While Catalyst 14.1 Rolls Out To The Public

AMD is finally ready to unveil the Mantle API to the public, along with new patches and drivers enabling the low-level API released today. To add more fuel on the already burning flame, AMD has finally released the Catalyst 14.1 beta drivers to the public as well, and can be downloaded from here.

At 4 AM EST, gamers were able to download a Mantle-enabled patch for Battlefield 4 through EA’s Origin service. At this stage, Battlefield 4 is the only full game that supports Mantle, although Oxide Games Mantle-enabled ‘StarSwarm’ demo is available through Steam for gamers that want to further evaluate Mantle performance on their systems. Another Mantle-enabled title, Thief, will be released in February.

AMD states that the API is “primarily designed to improve performance in scenarios where the CPU is the limiting factor”. Mantle makes “less of an impact” in GPU-bound situations, although the API does have “some built-in features to improve GPU-bound performance […] gains in these cases are largely dependent on how well Mantle features and optimizations are being utilized by the developer.”

The things to bear in mind here are, fist of all, that this is the initial release of Mantle, and AMD says the API will continue to evolve and improve in the months ahead. There’s a strong possibility AMD and their game partners will be able to squeeze more out of the API as it improves. Secondly, Mantle, like a number of AMD launches recently, is geared towards giving a better PC gaming experience to those on lower-end hardware. A performance kick for those with extremely fast CPUs and GPUs isn’t hugely important, whereas a 40% performance boost on slower hardware could be the difference between a playable and unplayable game.

Thank you Tech Spot for providing us with this information

AMD 14.11 Beta Driver Gets Released To The Press, First Impressions Revealed

Reports are that AMD has finally released the Catalyst 14.1 beta to the press. The driver is said to bring along the first release of Mantle, AMD’s ambitious 3D graphics API to rival Direct3D and OpenGL. The Catalyst 14.1 beta is said to enable the 3D renderer option in Battlefield 4, which lets you choose between DirectX 11.1 and Mantle.

TechPowerUp apparently gave it a try and they reported that the first ‘impressions’ about AMD’s mantle were nothing close to amazing. The difference between Mantle and non-Mantle systems is currently not noticeable on a Radeon R9 290 graphics card, having all settings set to 1920 x 1080 resolution, Ultra details and 4x MSAA on Battlefield 4. It is reported that the game runs smooth and well over 60 on both Mantle and non-Mantle settings. However, TechPowerUp point out that owners of a Radeon R9 270X will see a significant increase having the same settings applied, whereas on non-Mantle specs, the game’s FPS would drop below 60 FPS. Also, the driver is reported not to be optimized for any of the Graphics CoreNext (GCN) based GPUs other than Radeon R9 290 series, R9 260X, and A-Series “Kaveri” APUs.

TechPowerUp’s specs were as following: 8 GB of DCh DDR3-1333 memory, an AMD 990FX motherboard (ASUS M5A99FX-PRO R2.0, 2201 BIOS, UEFI mode); Windows 8.1 64-bit, and of course, a Radeon R9 290 (BIOS: 015.042.000.000.003747). The game settings are said to be 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution, disabled V-Sync, “Ultra” preset, HBAO, and 4x MSAA. We used the “PerfOverlay.FrameFileLogEnable 1” console command to spit out CSV files with frame-times in ms.

A 167-second playthrough on the single-player campaign chapter “Fishing in Baku,” was performed with the above specs, first being a non-Mantle test. An average frame-time of 16.26 ms, which works out to 61.5 fps. For Mantle, the same 167-second mark was performed, and the average frame-time was 14.45 ms, which works out to 69.2 fps. Overall, a 12.5 percent performance uplift was recorded. It is not much, but given the driver is still a Beta and still not optimized for anything other than the R9 290 series and R29X (if the optimization is final for those as well), we can see the 319% increase stated by AMD in the future.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information