Just a week ahead of its developer conference in San Jose, California, AMD announced that three developers have signed on to use the company's Mantle "metal-level" API: Cloud Imperium Games (Star Citizen), Eidos-Montréal (THIEF), and Oxide Games (Nitrous). AMD's Mantle API will allow these developers to optimize their games for GPUs and APUs based on the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture.
"AMD is proud to play an instrumental role in transforming the world of game development with Mantle," said Ritche Corpus, director of ISV gaming and alliances, AMD. "With the support and close collaboration between AMD and industry-leading game developers like Cloud Imperium, Eidos-Montréal and Oxide, Mantle can maximize optimization for highly anticipated PC titles, bringing an unparalleled gaming experience for players."
Chris Roberts, CEO of Cloud Imperium Games, said that Mantle will allow the Star Citizen team to extract more performance from an AMD Radeon GPU than any other graphics API currently available, such as DirectX and OpenGL. Indeed, AMD boasts that Mantle provides PC game developers the same level of hardware access that console developers experience in SDKs for the Xbox and PlayStation machines. That's definitely a good thing.
"Mantle is vitally important for a game like Star Citizen, which is being designed with the need for massive GPU horsepower," Roberts said. "With Mantle, our team can spend more time achieving our perfect artistic vision, and less time worrying about whether or not today's gaming hardware will be ready to deliver it."
AMD first revealed Mantle back at the end of September, and hinted that the API would make it easier for developers to post their console games to PC, that perhaps games would have the same metal-level optimizations and features across the PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 because the consoles pack GCN-based APUs. However, Microsoft nuked any hope of that, and AMD later backtracked by saying the API was simply for PC game development.
"Mantle lets you use AMD Radeon GPUs the way they are meant to be used, unlocking many new opportunities and increased CPU and GPU performance," said David Anfossi, studio head, Eidos-Montréal. "Because of this, Mantle is one of the most important changes to PC graphics in many years."
Mantle benefits include reducing the CPU overhead to enable nine times more draw calls per second than other APIs. This will provide PC gamers proper multi-tasking scaling on the CPU without the need to handle all the background draw calls required by the older APIs. Other Mantle benefits include leveraging optimization work from next-generation game consoles to PCs and new rendering techniques. Thus with direct access to all GPU features, developers can unlock higher graphics performance on consoles and gaming rigs with GCN-based GPUs.
The first company to support Mantle was Electronic Arts (Frostbite 3 engine). Now three other developers are on the Mantle bandwagon. "AMD's Mantle technology lets us get more out of the hardware than any other solution available," said Dan Baker, co-founder, Oxide Games. "Adding Mantle support to our multi-platform, 64-bit Nitrous engine realizes significant gains in performance on Mantle-enabled hardware without adding enormous development overhead."