Mantle, the new API from AMD and DICE is set to replace DirectX for AMD users – at least in Battlefield 4 and other Frostbite 3 games. It was meant to be released via patch last year, but that patch has been delayed to some time later this month. The wait might be worth it; it reportedly increases performance by up to 45%.
Screenshots leaked from a presentation at CES suggest that performance in Battlefield 4 could increase by as much as 45% – at least, when paired with a Kaveri APU. Mantle is intended to give developers better low-level access to AMD GCN hardware, similar to the way that developers are afforded that access on consoles, extracting much better performance from analogous chipsets. It’ll also make porting games between PC and new-gen consoles quicker and easier.
Regarding the delay, AMD told Polygon earlier last year:
“After much consideration, the decision was made to delay the Mantle patch for Battlefield 4. AMD continues to support DICE on the public introduction of Mantle, and we are tremendously excited about the coming release for Battlefield 4! We are now targeting a January release and will have more information to share in the New Year.”
Do you think AMD’s claims are genuine, and that users of its cards – like the very, very tempting R9 290X – could see far greater performance from games over NVidia gamers? I don’t – and here’s why.
I really don’t think the adoption of Mantle is going to be all that large in the very near future. For now, the fact that everything runs on DirectX makes development a little easier, and the introduction of new API’s means developers, who already have to tweak their PC games to make them run on all manner of hardware, will have to work twice as hard doing so. For the sake of compatibility, developers have to support DirectX by default, and if the Linux-based SteamOS gains any really traction, it means developers will have to include OpenGL support as well.
Throw in Mantle, and you have 3 wholly different API’s that need supporting and testing on a wide range of hardware, and you can understand why some developers prefer to stick to consoles, which have a base and uniform structure. In some nightmarish future, NVidia could even construct its own low-level access API, adding a fourth in to the mix.
It would be a return to the sort of compatibility issues we had to deal with in the early part of this century and the advent of PC 3D gaming; some games were made to support 3DFX’s Glide, with others opting for OpenGL, and others still adopting the then new Direct3D necessitating things like Glide Wrappers and all sorts of external software just to get things working.
It all sounds like far, far too much of a headache.
Last Updated: January 7, 2014