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Tom's Hardware's AMA With AMD, In Its Entirety

Getting Used To 95 Degrees And A Bit About Mantle

Q. Can you give an indication the performance gain of Mantle? Will it be purely in FPS or will it be visual...i.e. better graphics, more eye candy, and improvements to tress-fx. Is it used in conjunction with D3D or by itself?

A. Mantle can be used to increase raw FPS, or to increase image quality while maintaining the same FPS.  It is a complete and standalone graphics API, meaning Mantle must be capable of coding and rendering all the in-game effects you see today. But Mantle also needs to be sufficiently extensible so that we can collaborate with game studios to create the effects of tomorrow—and it is extensible to do so!

Q. What ever happened to Dave Baumann?

A. [Thracks] He's leading the desktop graphics product management team. He sits about 30 feet away from me. :)

Q. There has been speculation that mantle-like technology is at use in the Xbox One and the PS4. Is this true? Also, it's obvious that AMD must have had some kind of advantage with regard to what they had to offer the Xbox One and PS4. What would you say this advantage is? What do the custom AMD solutions in the consoles offer to help them compete with gaming on a PC from a graphics standpoint?

A. I think your questions will be best answered by this blog we recently published ( Let me pull a relevant quote.

“It’s not that Mantle is the initial language with which developers are writing their games on each platform, as some have surmised; the point of Mantle is that it’s easy to reuse, in whole or in part, the development effort expended on the next-generation consoles when bringing the same game to life on the PC. This is because Mantle allows developers to use the same features and programming techniques they are already utilizing for next-gen game consoles. And while the initial iteration of Mantle is intended specifically for PCs, it has been designed from the beginning to be extensible to other platforms as well.”

With respect to how the custom solutions we've co-engineered with the console vendors helps their devices compete with PCs, that's really a question better answered by them. They know their devices much better than we do. :)

Q. I have read that when people crossfire 2 7990, they encounter issues. My question is: Are dual GPU cards meant to be Crossfired?

A. CrossFire is uniquely capable of running up to 4 simultaneous GPUs. The 7990 can certainly be CFed with a second one. You can also pair 4x 7970s (or 2x 7970 + 7990), or place 4x 290s together.

Q. What is a single tech that AMD is currently working on that you don't feel there is enough buzz about? Something possibly overlooked or overshadowed but to which we should really be paying attention?

A. My favorite is the new implementation of PowerTune on the 290X and 290. There's a lot of doom and gloom around the 95C temperature, because people are used to a world where the product is designed to run as cold as possible... but that's not the world we're living in with these units. The doom and gloom is based on an old viewpoint.

95C is the optimal temperature that allows the board to convert its power consumption into meaningful performance for the user. Every single component on the board is designed to run at that temperature throughout the lifetime of the product.  If you throttle the temperature down below that threshold, then the board must in turn consume less power to respect the new temperature limit. Consuming less power means lowering vcore and engine clock, which means less performance.

You want to take full advantage of product TDP to maximize performance, and that is accomplished with a 95C ideal operating temperature for the 290 and 290X.  Even with a third-party cooling solution, like the Accelero 3 some users have started deploying, the logic of PowerTune will still try to maximize TDP by allowing temperatures to float higher until some other limit is met (voltage, clock, fan RPM, whatever).  It's so bloody smart and it kills me that more people don't fully understand it.

  • jumpmanxt
    Does AMD have an official download link for their cleanup utility? I can't get the link in the article to work (
  • tomfreak
    I is sad.... I ask if Radeon 7790 support TrueAudio or not, my question got passed -.-

    Radeon 7790 is the same chip with 260x.
  • ronch79
    WHy wasn't AMD asked about the future of their CPU division? Do they plan to offer FX SKUs using the Steamroller core? What about Excavator? Any plans to continue making x86 CPUs after Excavator?
  • InvalidError
    11927410 said:
    WHy wasn't AMD asked about the future of their CPU division?
    Because the AMA panel was from the GPU division and deferred CPU-related questions to AMD's upcoming forum and interviews elsewhere. In other words, they probably were not authorized to discuss CPU-related questions.
  • sarinaide
    Nice interview, its eye opening to see how little people in position to know actually knew about AMD and its projects. The automatic knee-jerk reaction is to assume a problem when there is no problem other than the assumption of problems.

  • goodguy713
    well this was pretty informative actually. the temp issue with the 290 and 290x seems like it can be solved just by gaming out side in 30 degree weather.. lol
  • goodguy713
    all joking aside i honestly think I will buy a 290 here soon been waiting for amazon to get more in stock
  • MajinCry
    Gah. Forgot about the AMA. I'd have asked if there would be any performance benefit from wrapping, say, DirectX 9 to Mantle, due to the low-level aspect of the latter.
  • InvalidError
    11928558 said:
    Gah. Forgot about the AMA. I'd have asked if there would be any performance benefit from wrapping, say, DirectX 9 to Mantle, due to the low-level aspect of the latter.
    Sounds like a silly idea to me since the point of Mantle is to bypass DXn's complexity and overhead in the first place by giving programmers lower-level access to the hardware.

    If you make DXn libraries that translate the DXn API to Mantle, you lose pretty much all advantages Mantle is intended to provide since you have to jump through all DXn hoops on top of dealing with Mantle stuff.

    With DXn, you get: Game -> DXn APIs -> driver hardware abstraction layer -> low-level drivers -> hardware
    With Mantle, you get: Game -> Mantle -> low-level drivers -> hardware
    With "Mantlified DXn" you get: Game -> DXn API -> DXn translation layer -> Mantle -> low-level drivers -> hardware

    Converting DXn to Mantle is likely less efficient since it introduces an extra middleware layer that may not be able to execute calls as efficiently as a middleware layer that speaks native hardware language - the hardware abstraction layer has liberties in how to translate DXn calls to hardware that Mantle would not have.
  • joditas
    This is the original version

    I appreciate THG for hosting this but many questions are simply left unanswered. If AMD wants to capture more market share, not just maintain, they need to do better in areas where they are lacking.