I think I’m going AMD on my next upgrade…

AMD's Mantle API promises big gains over DirectX

I think I’m going AMD on my next upgrade…

Ok so my next video card upgrade will actually be some time from now, so who knows what the state of things will be then. But I do have to say, this new Mantle API has me a fair bit excited. It’s also got me a fair bit cautious as well.

Wait Ken, what are you talking about, what’s a Mantle API?!

AMD Mantle APIMantle is AMD’s new video game API, think DirectX, which is from Microsoft. This is the software that handles all the draw calls of what to put up on your screen.

Supposedly, Mantle can give a 45% performance boost over DirectX, the example here being Battlefield 4. Those are some big numbers, and why many gamers are excited by this announcement.

But is there really anything to be excited about?

AMD Mantle on FrostbiteGames these days are coded to work, and to optimize the usage of, DirectX. Every PC uses DirectX, it’s very platform agnostic, which is a good thing. Mantle would change that.

I’m assuming that AMD would continue supporting DirectX with their video cards. I would think you’d have to, because it is the standard. But let’s say a developer wanted that 45% performance boost, and come on, who wouldn’t?! They’d more or less have to code two different versions of their game, not to mention the console versions as well.

It may not be that drastic, but there’s certain to be some extra work involved. It’s at least like how we had a transitional period where many games were still supporting DirectX 9, but then had all these DirectX 10 features on top as well.

How about a nice, direct visual comparison?

Well Stardock has a tech demo out showing just what they’re doing with this Mantle API. The difference when they switch to the Nvidia hardware is HUGE.

Now here, the Nvidia hardware kept up by just turning off motion blur. And really, why do we really want motion blur anyways? But just think then, what kind of frame rates the AMD hardware could be getting with that useless motion blur turned off as well.

DICE is also going to be pushing out a patch for Battlefield 4 to give it Mantle support later this month, so it will be very interesting to get some real world comparisons.

Final Thoughts

All in all, the news about this Mantle API sounds promising. But I always prefer to take a wait and see approach to this kind of thing. I’m not going to rush out and get an AMD video card today. If the performance gains are for real though, you can bet my next system build will be AMD based.

One thing I haven’t heard anything about though, would Nvidia ever even be able to use this API for their video cards? I’m a little worried about fragmentation and ending up with a situation where we have two standards. We’ll just have to wait and see I suppose.

Check out this interview with AMD’s Robert Hallock.

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