Carmack: Microsoft, Sony May Be Hostile to AMD's Mantle

On Wednesday, after AMD revealed its new "Hawaii" GPUs and Mantle API, id Software co-founder and Oculus VR CTO John Carmack took to Twitter to express his thoughts on the new API. He admitted that the company has some interesting opportunities with Mantle given AMD's "dual console wins," (getting APUs into the Xbox One and PlayStation 4) but he doubts Microsoft and Sony will be very helpful in AMD's united gaming campaign.

"Considering the boost Mantle could give to a steambox, MS and Sony may wind up being downright hostile to it," he said. "I don't know the details, but it is pitched as a console level hardware access for the PC from AMD."

For old-school PC gamers, AMD's Mantle API may sound a little familiar. A little company named 3DFX created the Glide API for its Voodoo GPUs, allowing developers like John Carmack to directly access the chip's hardware features. This seemingly brought the original Quake to life despite OpenGL's capabilities, but the industry eventually adopted OpenGL as the default and then Microsoft's DirectX when it matured.

Like Glide, AMD's Mantle API grants developers low-level access to the native language of the Graphics Core Next architecture. OpenGL and DirectX are considered high-level access that provides broad (generic) optimizations across a number of GPUs. However, the benefits of developing a console are two-fold: there's only one hardware set per vendor and direct low-level access to the hardware. AMD's Mantle attempts to do the same on the GPU front in PCs at the very least.

DICE's Frostbite 3 is reportedly the first game engine to use AMD's API, and will first appear in Battlefield 4 this December as an update. Given that the GPU cores in the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are based on the Graphics Core Next architecture, it will be interesting to see if the console versions receive this update as well. If Carmack is right, Sony and Microsoft may do whatever it takes to separate their versions from the PC counterpart.

Valve's Steam Machines will be provided by hardware partners, and will likely allow owners to easily upgrade components when needed. Unlike consoles that are locked into one hardware set, these gaming rigs can have a mix-match of components. Nvidia has already officially revealed its involvement with the SteamOS development, and AMD mentioned that it supports Valve's Steam Machines initiative as well.

"I didn't even think about that -- yes, that would help the steam box a lot with AAA content," Carmack said, referring to using the Mantle API with Steam Machines solutions.

AMD said it will reveal more about the Mantle API in November during its Developer Summit 2013 conference.

  • brucek2
    Even without a hardware-level API, PCs have already had significantly more graphics power than consoles for the past several years. It hasn't caused any significant upheaval so far, I don't see why it would now.
  • ltdementhial
    Im not the smartes person about all the things that are happening right now whit new consoles, Steam and its mounstral plattaform etc, but if i were AMD i would talk to the Game Studios NOT Microsoft or Sony, i would push Mantle among them so the games get better optimization, after having the studios in the pocket i would then go with MS and Sony even Valve.

    After that Mantle isn't closed. that way maybe AMD can be crowned king of the consoles sector and have a good income in future years.

    We are watching something so awesome, a company trying to get gaming more equitative. this isn't about whats better or who has the biggest profit is about making gaming both and console and on pc better.
  • dimar
    A separate gaming OS on a separate partition would be awesome.
  • DRosencraft
    It's not as though AMD can just flat out ignore Sony and Microsoft, since they're all financially tied together for at least this console cycle. And AMD clearly didn't have a lot of concern since they went ahead and announced this step anyway. Ultimately it's not huge game changer. It could help a little, but to make an impact with the PC gaming industry you would need for many developers to adopt to it. Further, if you are using Nvidia, this sounds like just another useless stunt since it won't help anything for you. The idea from Valve for a gaming focused OS holds a little more potential I would imagine. After all, there has never been anything stopping Nvidia, AMD, or whoever from just giving developers more access to the architecture anyway, without all this fuss.
  • yannigr
    Question: Is there a chance Mantle to be on consoles and Windows only? I don't know if it is something that it doesn't care about which OS you are running but I bet AMD can keep, if it can, Mantle away from SteamOS and Linux if necessary. They can still improve their drivers keeping Mantle out of Linux. That way consoles and PCs running windows will have an advantage over Linux.
  • Amdlova
    I still love GLIDE! In my brain i see the 3dfx running The best time in my life! 3dfx voodo 2 12mb!
  • hannibal
    Sli and Mantle are basically graphic monopoly staff... Bad for competition, good for performance (if you happen to have the right hardware, bad if not happen to have...)
    I allmost hope that it will be implemented in console envinronment, but not so sure in PC world...
    I have been usin ATI / AMD for some time because they have offered the best bang for the buck in those times I was configuring my PC. But still don't hope it to have an monopoly (as I don't want the Intel or Nvidia to have it either!) Monopoly is allways bad to customers in long run.
  • John Pombrio
    There is a reason why bare metal programming died out long ago. It takes a lot more work to basically rewrite all the functions that are built into DirectX. No one has bothered to try yet another programming layer in years. Yes, you gain a few frames per second but you have to write different code for each platform you are using. Just not worth the bother.
  • Shin-san
    "I still love GLIDE! In my brain i see the 3dfx running The best time in my life! 3dfx voodo 2 12mb! "

    How did programmers like it? Also, it was proprietary, and an upcoming API called OpenGL started to take off. Apparently Direct3D's advantage was that "it just worked". GPUs and CPUs have grown to where low-level might not be as advantageous unless you are an engine maker like the UE3 or the Cryengine
  • InvalidError
    11623767 said:
    but if i were AMD i would talk to the Game Studios NOT Microsoft or Sony, i would push Mantle among them so the games get better optimization, after having the studios in the pocket i would then go with MS and Sony even Valve.
    Before AMD can get (console) developers to jump on Mantle, AMD has to convince Microsoft and Sony to add Mantle to XBOne and PS4 since Sony and Microsoft are the ones who dictate what APIs, drivers, etc. are in their respective consoles and which ones aren't.