AMD’s Mantle API has shown that its “closer to metal” features allow for significant performance improvements, especially when using a slower CPU. OpenGL has had these features for a long time, but developers don’t seem interested in using it. Instead, they use the APIs for each console, and port the PC version over to DirectX. Or, if AMD can convince them, they use Mantle. But for how long?
Several quotes from the introductions of presentations that will take place at this year’s GDC hint at DirectX getting features similar to Mantle and OpenGL, which allow for low level hardware access:
“For nearly 20 years, DirectX has been the platform used by game developers to create the fastest, most visually impressive games on the planet.
However, you asked us to do more. 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.”
“Driver overhead has been a frustrating reality for game developers for the entire life of the PC game industry. On desktop systems, driver overhead can decrease frame rate, while on mobile devices driver overhead is more insidious–robbing both battery life and frame rate. In this unprecedented sponsored session, 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. Additionally, they will demonstrate practical demos of the techniques in action in an extensible, open source comparison framework.”
Those quotes are from DirectX: Evolving Microsoft’s Graphics Platform, which will be hosted by Anuj Gosalia, Development Manager for Windows Graphics.
Here’s another quote, from Max McMcullen, Development Lead for Windows Graphics. In his presentation titled “Direct3D Futures,” he says
Come learn how future changes to Direct3D will enable next generation games to run faster than ever before!
In this session we 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.
If you use cutting-edge 3D graphics in your games, middleware, or engines and want to efficiently build rich and immersive visuals, you don’t want to miss this talk.
PC developers seem to prefer using DirectX, despite its high overhead compared to OpenGL and now Mantle. Just when AMD was trying to get Mantle off the ground, this happens. While this may be unfortunate for AMD, the end result is that all gamers will benefit, whether using AMD, Nvidia, or even Intel graphics.