There’s a lot of news coming out of AMD’s ongoing APU13 event in San Jose. Johan Andersson of DICE just finished his presentation, where he discussed Mantle in great length. Johansson said that creating the Mantle version of Battlefield 4 took about two extra months of work, and is targeted for release in late December 2013.
One interesting anecdote is that the Mantle version’s core renderer is closer to that used on the PS4 version than the PC version, which supports rumors that Mantle itself works in a way that is similar to one of the consoles. Linux development would benefit greatly from this, since according to Johansson, Mantle is “significantly easier” to build an efficient renderer with compared to OpenGL.
While Johansson didn’t specify performance gains, there are reports that other developers are being more upfront about gains, and Thief 2 developer Jorjen Katsman mentioned a reduction in API overhead from 40% with DirectX 11 to around 8% with Mantle. He added that it’s “not unrealistic that you’d get 20% additional GPU performance” with Mantle. [source].
Because Frostbyte 3 has become EA’s base engine for game development, Mantle will be supported on 15 other games that are currently under development. In most cases, these games should support the API out of the box.
One thing that Johansson discussed that is causing a lot of waves in the industry is that Mantle isn’t permanently tied to GCN architecture, and that if they wanted, other GPU vendors could develop a version that works with their own hardware.
According to Andersson, extensions could be added to the API that would work on “today’s modern GPUs” (presumably this means from Intel and Nvidia) and could become the industry standard. If other hardware could get the same overhead reduction from 40% to 8%, I can’t see them ignoring this.
As I have mentioned, the biggest opportunity for Steam Machines would have been to work with AMD on a version of Mantle that works with their hardware. I assumed this would have meant having to be tied to AMD hardware, but this no longer seems to be the case. A SteamOS version of Mantle with a low level hardware API would make it more console-like than ever. It should be interesting to see if other vendors pick up on this opportunity.