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Intel approached AMD about access to Mantle

Mark Hachman | June 24, 2014
Intel has approached AMD about access to its game-boosting Mantle technology, an AMD executive said Friday.

"At the time of the initial Mantle announcement, we were already investigating rendering overhead based on game developer feedback," an Intel spokesman said in an email. "Our hope was to build consensus on potential approaches to reduce overhead with additional data.  We have publicly asked them to share the spec with us several times as part of examination of potential ways to improve APIs and increase efficiencies. At this point though we believe that DirectX 12 and ongoing work with other industry bodies and OS vendors will address the issues that game developers have noted."

In a separate email, the Intel spokesman said that it had been working with the Khronos Group and with Microsoft to ensure that future APIs target "a wide range of graphics hardware".

"Our belief is that software developers will prioritize their investments by bringing their great games and user experiences to all platforms using non-proprietary/open solutions; and whilst we all experiment, we hope that these experiments are used primarily to drive better standards and improve the graphics industry for everyone," the Intel spokesman said.

Mantle's roadmap
But back to Mantle. Huddy previously told PCWorld that AMD would bring its Mantle technology to Linux and to Steam boxes, the Linux-based gaming devices spearheaded by Valve Software. Naturally, AMD will continue to evolve the Mantle technology, Huddy said.

The Mantle drivers are part of AMD's Catalyst software, a wrapper for AMD's software drivers. Huddy described Catalyst as "a little long in the tooth," and said his understanding was that AMD planned to "rev it" with a new update soon.

For now, Mantle's focus is on improving the frame rates of games that tap into it, an easy way to sell AMD's performance to the numbers-obsessed world of gamers and benchmarking sites. That doesn't preclude AMD spending resources to improve the graphical quality, though.

"Our very first iteration has primarily focused on a performance differentiation, but we do know with that extra performance we can spend it on extra [image] quality," Huddy said. 

Likewise, AMD has prioritized its relationship with game developers and the engines that drive them, not the professional graphics space, Huddy said. But he added that his focus on games left him unaware of whether or not AMD was having similar conversations in the professional graphics space--one of the priorities for AMD's chief executive, Rory Read. 

"I would think that a workstation app developer who has looked at any care at what we have done with Mantle so far would realize that there is a pretty significant benefit" with Mantle, he said.

Mantle hasn't even officially launched yet. But with companies already taking sides, low-level APIs could become the battleground of the next few years.


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