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AMD Supports Possible Lower Level DirectX

By - Source: AMD | B 47 comments

AMD responds to talk about DirectX and OpenGL being lower in the software stack.

AMD is currently responding to reports that DirectX and OpenGL may allow low-level hardware access. An AMD rep says that the company supports and celebrates a direction for game development that is aligned with AMD’s vision.

The response stems from session descriptions pulled from the DirectX and OpenGl presentations that will take place in GDC 2014. According to one session on Direct3D, presenters 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”.

“You asked us to do more,” the DirectX session reads. “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.”

For OpenGL, we have this session description: “Graham Sellers (AMD), Tim Foley (Intel), Cass Everitt (NVIDIA) and John McDonald (NVIDIA) will present high-level concepts available in today's OpenGL implementations that radically reduce driver overhead--by up to 10x or more. The techniques presented will apply to all major vendors and are suitable for use across multiple platforms.”

In a way, AMD’s Mantle has pushed the Khronos group (OpenGL) and Microsoft (DirectX) to take the “lower level” route. However the question is: what will happen to Mantle then? Will developers no longer need Mantle with DirectX and OpenGL hovering at the same level in the software stack?

“AMD would like you to know that it supports and celebrates a direction for game development that is aligned with AMD’s vision of lower-level, ‘closer to the metal’ graphics APIs for PC gaming,” reports an AMD rep. “While industry experts expect this to take some time, developers can immediately leverage efficient API design using Mantle, and AMD is very excited to share the future of our own API with developers at this year’s Game Developers Conference.”

“We’ll be sure to share more news and detail with you closer to GDC,” the rep adds.

What will be interesting to see is where all three will go from here. Will Mantle and DirectX somehow merge ideas so that AMD gamers still get the Mantle benefits when using DirectX to run a game? As AMD points out, we’ll find out more at GDC 2014.

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    jin_mtvt , February 28, 2014 7:09 PM
    YEs it was a ruset that is why Square and Dice worked hard to include it in the next games. AMD is not in a position to "force" Mantle . But if It needs to "merge" with DX or OpenGL or to be used in conjunction so we can all benefit, then so be it! I personally do not care much about their "brands" until WE ( consumer ) reaps benefit from it. So Viva AMD ( because without them we would still be playing under GeForce and Pentium 3's ) and let's hope Mantle will push everyone forward into the next stage .
  • 15 Hide
    cd000 , February 28, 2014 7:41 PM
    Quote:
    OpenGL already provides a mechanism for developers to get just about whatever they want from the hardware.
    Then why don't they use it?
    Quote:
    My issue is that it will be implemented into the next DirectX which is bound to be limited to Windows 9 or 8.1
    But Mantle will not. AMD win.
  • 11 Hide
    David Dewis , February 28, 2014 6:20 PM
    My issue is that it will be implemented into the next DirectX which is bound to be limited to Windows 9 or 8.1
Other Comments
    Display all 47 comments.
  • 11 Hide
    David Dewis , February 28, 2014 6:20 PM
    My issue is that it will be implemented into the next DirectX which is bound to be limited to Windows 9 or 8.1
  • 20 Hide
    jin_mtvt , February 28, 2014 7:09 PM
    YEs it was a ruset that is why Square and Dice worked hard to include it in the next games. AMD is not in a position to "force" Mantle . But if It needs to "merge" with DX or OpenGL or to be used in conjunction so we can all benefit, then so be it! I personally do not care much about their "brands" until WE ( consumer ) reaps benefit from it. So Viva AMD ( because without them we would still be playing under GeForce and Pentium 3's ) and let's hope Mantle will push everyone forward into the next stage .
  • 7 Hide
    Shankovich , February 28, 2014 7:27 PM
    Making lower level accessible is only a first step for Mantle. It'll only get better from here, and considering it's AMD's own for its own chips and architecture, I think it will continue to have a leg up over Direct X and OpenGL in specific areas.
  • 15 Hide
    cd000 , February 28, 2014 7:41 PM
    Quote:
    OpenGL already provides a mechanism for developers to get just about whatever they want from the hardware.
    Then why don't they use it?
    Quote:
    My issue is that it will be implemented into the next DirectX which is bound to be limited to Windows 9 or 8.1
    But Mantle will not. AMD win.
  • 4 Hide
    rdc85 , February 28, 2014 9:11 PM
    IMO AMD will try merge dX and mantle so they will not fight each other....If mantle is open source like they said, i can see that happen....
  • 1 Hide
    tobalaz , February 28, 2014 9:34 PM
    We had lower level access in DOS, Win95 and Win98.MS decided to add extra application and hardware extraction layers in the name of "security" with WinXP. Remember how bad Nvidia and ATI drivers were for close to 2 years when WinXP came out?Remember how games could get the same FPS under OpenGL and DirectX but OpenGL just looked smoother until about half way through XP's life cycle?I'd LOVE to see Mantle stick around and I'd love to see it working in Linux on most of the games in my Steam library.Man I miss 3DFX and Glide something awful. All I can do is hope Mantle is the new Glide.
  • -6 Hide
    Kewlx25 , February 28, 2014 9:36 PM
    Quote:
    The whole Mantle thing was a marketing ruse. OpenGL already provides a mechanism for developers to get just about whatever they want from the hardware.


    Except OpenGL is about 10x slower, because OpenGL is nearly the same speed as DX11. But hey, if you think 10x slower is fine, you can use a lovely 300mhz CPU instead of a 3ghz.
  • 1 Hide
    Shankovich , February 28, 2014 10:42 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    The whole Mantle thing was a marketing ruse. OpenGL already provides a mechanism for developers to get just about whatever they want from the hardware.
    Except OpenGL is about 10x slower, because OpenGL is nearly the same speed as DX11. But hey, if you think 10x slower is fine, you can use a lovely 300mhz CPU instead of a 3ghz.
    OpenGL can accomplish as much, and more, than Direct X. The reason DirectX is in use so much is because Microsoft is a monopoly plain and simple. The fact that it can use vendor extensions is already a huge plus in its favour. Check this little post out http://blog.wolfire.com/2010/01/Why-you-should-use-OpenGL-and-not-DirectX
  • 2 Hide
    CaptainTom , February 28, 2014 11:08 PM
    I think a lot of fanboys forget that AMD consistently said it would support Nvidia in Mantle. If DirectX and OpenGL both get close to mantle, then they are just doing AMD's job for free...
  • 2 Hide
    jimmysmitty , March 1, 2014 12:34 AM
    Quote:
    We had lower level access in DOS, Win95 and Win98.MS decided to add extra application and hardware extraction layers in the name of "security" with WinXP. Remember how bad Nvidia and ATI drivers were for close to 2 years when WinXP came out?Remember how games could get the same FPS under OpenGL and DirectX but OpenGL just looked smoother until about half way through XP's life cycle?I'd LOVE to see Mantle stick around and I'd love to see it working in Linux on most of the games in my Steam library.Man I miss 3DFX and Glide something awful. All I can do is hope Mantle is the new Glide.


    There is more to it than that. There is also the fact that back then when a game crashed it also could potentially and normally took the OS with it. The API route helps keep that from happening, which is why now you will see a "AMD/NVidia driver stopped working and was recovered" message instead of the system BSoDing and rebooting.

    Not even Mantle has true direct hardware access as it is still a API which the game calls the hardware through and still masks it. It does offer more of a low level access than DirectX or OGL do but it is nothing like it used to be when games could directly access hardware.

    That will never change. Could you imagine the uproar of the people if a game comes out with a bug or glitch that causes constant reboots when launched? Now if a game does that then you know something else is probably wrong such as a bad GPU or bad RAM but if it had direct access figuring that out would be harder.

    Quote:
    OpenGL can accomplish as much, and more, than Direct X. The reason DirectX is in use so much is because Microsoft is a monopoly plain and simple. The fact that it can use vendor extensions is already a huge plus in its favour. Check this little post out http://blog.wolfire.com/2010/01/Why-you-should-use-Open...


    Here is how I have always and always will see it. Microsoft will retain the majority of PC market share as will DirectX. The main reason is support. You pay for a license of Windows and you get patch support along with technical support.

    The biggest problem with things like OpenGL is that they may not update it to support some of the newest features. Microsoft will always be updating DirectX because of the consoles and because they want to keep that grip on gaming as it is very profitable.

    As for the article, it is pretty old and honestly the guy is full of it. Both OGL and DX have mostly the same capabilities and both are working on future capabilities. It is up to the company developing the game to decide if they want to jump on DX or OGL. Problem with OGL is driver support is still lacking. To this day I have to actually copy a certain version of the AMD OGL driver into a folder for Doom 3 or RAGE to work properly while with any DX game I just play it.

    As for the Mantle/DX merge, it wont. What most likely will happen is DirectX will have their version as will OpenGL and Mantle will disappear or become something else. Microsoft and the guys behind OGL have been around for a long time doing this, I think they wont have an issue.

    Square Enix and DICE obviously had some incentive from AMD to do Mantle. Right now Mantle has a very small market share as it only runs on a handful of GPUs (GCN only) so it is not a massive selling point. And with the price inflation for said GCN cards, they wont sell enough.

    Either way I think it is great that Mantle did what AMD wanted and pushed MS and OGL to add support for it. I wouldn't mind a slight performance boost. I just hope it gets better for high end CPUs as right now there isn't much incentive to use Mantle over DDX if you have a high end CPU.
  • 5 Hide
    Jaroslav Jandek , March 1, 2014 1:47 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    OpenGL already provides a mechanism for developers to get just about whatever they want from the hardware.
    Then why don't they use it?
    We do. Also, OpenGL can be as low level as possible via OpenGL extensions (there have even been rumors about Mantle extensions for OpenGL). The problem is that not all GPUs support all features. So legacy and platform concerns are a BIG problem. Also a reason why a lot of game devs use third party game engines - they provide another layer of abstraction above various API implementations and allow them to support multiple platforms easily.

    With all the good things said about OpenGL, I am mostly using DirectX myself. And the reason for that has nothing to do with performance. DirectX has better documentation, better drivers, better (and available sooner - eg. vertex buffers) features, better debugging, better tools and better support (=> more stable apps with less man-hour investment). Another thing was that in the past, OpenGL was simply bad - like the GLSL (OpenGL shading language) - the stuff of nightmares (it's OK now).

    All these points are also applicable to Mantle with one addition - in its current state, it only supports a small fraction of the market (and I do not really expect any changes in that regard in the near future). Furthermore, Mantle does not even compete with Direct3D nor OpenGL - in fact it can't, because it does not (and is not going to, AFAIK) support older HW. It is more like a complementary API - something you implement in addition to OpenGL or Direct3D (a lot of devs simply can't afford to allocate man hours for this).
  • 1 Hide
    tomfreak , March 1, 2014 2:15 AM
    isnt a few weeks ago Nvidia fans said Mantle is useless?
  • 1 Hide
    qlum , March 1, 2014 4:29 AM
    I still think mantle will be there after these platforms get more close to metal as mantle is more flexible and in the current age of big game engines that rule a lot of games a cryengine, unity, or Unreal can just support the tech and be done with it in a general sense, I think Mantle will always have some edge as it is more flexible and would work better with amd, it may just end up being a niche for certain special uses but still I doubt we will be seeing it go away anytime soon.
  • 0 Hide
    genz , March 1, 2014 4:52 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    OpenGL already provides a mechanism for developers to get just about whatever they want from the hardware.
    Then why don't they use it?
    We do. Also, OpenGL can be as low level as possible via OpenGL extensions (there have even been rumors about Mantle extensions for OpenGL). The problem is that not all GPUs support all features. So legacy and platform concerns are a BIG problem. Also a reason why a lot of game devs use third party game engines - they provide another layer of abstraction above various API implementations and allow them to support multiple platforms easily.

    With all the good things said about OpenGL, I am mostly using DirectX myself. And the reason for that has nothing to do with performance. DirectX has better documentation, better drivers, better (and available sooner - eg. vertex buffers) features, better debugging, better tools and better support (=> more stable apps with less man-hour investment). Another thing was that in the past, OpenGL was simply bad - like the GLSL (OpenGL shading language) - the stuff of nightmares (it's OK now).

    All these points are also applicable to Mantle with one addition - in its current state, it only supports a small fraction of the market (and I do not really expect any changes in that regard in the near future). Furthermore, Mantle does not even compete with Direct3D nor OpenGL - in fact it can't, because it does not (and is not going to, AFAIK) support older HW. It is more like a complementary API - something you implement in addition to OpenGL or Direct3D (a lot of devs simply can't afford to allocate man hours for this).


    I that direct call causes an unhandled exception what will happen? Will the PC BSOD? Because if not, that's not close enough to the metal. OGL plugins are still nested within OGL, it's kind of like saying that because I can write bits of C code in .NET, that .NET is suddenly capable of programs that are faster than your competitor hat is using C and ASM.

    Remember Mantle is not just talking to the driver, it's talking to the driver in the hardware's own language, and no translation has to be done at all.
  • -4 Hide
    megamanxtreme , March 1, 2014 5:04 AM
    Bunch of suck-ups.When Google created Chrome, Firefox talked like they welcomed competition. Yet, when Microsoft updated IE, Firefox is like "Oh, HELL NO!"If Microsoft does this, AMD welcomes competition. Yet, if NVIDIA does this, AMD will be like, "Oh, HELL NO!"Competition is competition and it shouldn't be welcomed regardless because it can end up like Intel vs AMD on the processors.
  • -2 Hide
    Lessthannil , March 1, 2014 6:15 AM
    People are once again being debbie downers about DirectX. Nevermind that. The real victory here is that OpenGL is being improved.
  • 1 Hide
    ddpruitt , March 1, 2014 9:05 AM
    It appears that most people don't understand what DirectX is really for. It provides an abstraction from the hardware that way devs don't have to deal with all the idiosyncrasies a varies hardware combinations have. When was the last time you opened a file and had to provide a sector number along with the drive commands to write the individual sectors? Same thing with Directx. It also provides a number of high level functions not offered in the hardware, like drawing a box for instance. OpenGL is also an abstraction that not as well maintained as DirectX. Programming closer to the hardware, like Mantle, requires that you really know what your doing and means your spending resources on low-level programming that might be put to better use elsewhere.
  • 0 Hide
    bhnkop , March 1, 2014 9:30 AM
    good
  • 0 Hide
    Haravikk , March 1, 2014 9:42 AM
    I have kind of mixed feelings about this idea of low-level DirectX and OpenGL to be honest. I definitely think there's good reason to restructure graphics APIs with modern GPU features in mind, and to cut the cruft that leaves them to become CPU bound, however at the same time we need to avoid anything becoming too GPU dependent.In an ideal world we'd get an all new version of OpenGL built solely around different types of shader program, with a form of scripting language that is designed to run on the GPU itself (where possible), leaving the CPU entirely out of the equation for most typical engine tasks (loading geometries, textures etc. and drawing them), except of course for the initial setup, and for feeding in new data such viewpoint, triggering new sets of shaders, geometries etc. Basically leaving your on-GPU engine to just draw as efficiently as possible, while the CPU only worries about letting it know when what it's drawing needs to change.
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