AMD’s Mantle might be the only API currently fighting the good fight for gamers to get more performance out of their hardware but it appears that AMD has done what it originally set out to do and at a much quicker pace as well – it’s woken up the slumbering DirectX and OpenGL giants to start looking at how to optimise performance for modern hardware, particularly now that Mantle shows that it’s possible to run a Radeon R9 290X on a lowly Intel Core i3 processor and not bottleneck it hugely.
At the upcoming Game Developer’s Conference taking place in San Francisco in March 2014, AMD, Microsoft, Intel and Nvidia will all be sitting down for a chat about driver overhead and unlocking higher performance.
Given that the alignment between consoles and desktop computers is closer now than it’s ever been before, sharing ideas, concepts and technology is a first step into bringing the two markets closer together and allowing them to build each other up. Console developers work with a very different set of issues to PC developers and sharing this information is a good way to improve performance on the PC platform, traditionally dogged down by poor drivers and bad software.
Speaking for Microsoft, Development Manager for Windows Graphics, Anuj Gosalia will be talking about DirectX’s history on the PC platform and will be detailing new ways to bring up performance on the API which has been baked into Windows operating systems for eons and is currently the dominant platform to code against.
“For nearly 20 years, DirectX has been the platform used by game developers to create the fastest, most visually impressive games on the planet,” Gosalia writes in the description for the session. “However, you asked us to do more. You asked us to bring you even closer to the metal and to do so on an unparalleled assortment of 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.”
Later on in the conference, Development Lead for Windows Graphics, Max McMullen will be talking about changes to Direct3D itself in order to expose more power in a wide range of hardware. McMullen’s session will likely focus on the same things that Mantle improves on, which is reducing single-threaded driver overhead which reduces the efficiency of processors on non-Intel platforms and weaker processors.
“In this session we will discuss future improvements in Direct3D that will allow developers an unprecedented level of hardware control and reduced CPU rendering overhead across a broad ecosystem of hardware,” writes McMullen. “If you use cutting-edge 3D graphics in your games, middleware, or engines and want to efficiently build rich and immersive visuals, you don’t want to miss this talk.”
Lastly, the sleeping beast that is OpenGL will have it’s first official crack at doing the same job as Mantle, only better. Nvidia OpenGL engineer Cass Everitt, Intel advanced rendering technology team leader Tim Foley, Nvidia senior software engineer John McDonald and AMD senior manager and software architect Graham Sellers will all be sharing the same stage to talk about advances in OpenGL and how to approach zero driver overhead for DirectX’s biggest competitor.
Here’s the interesting thing, though – Mantle had to be created by AMD and took two years to complete. DirectX still has to be tweaked to allow for higher performance and less bloat. OpenGL, on the other hand, has been able to do what Mantle was purpose-designed for, for years. Its an exciting time to be a PC gamer, innit?