AMD puts Mantle 1.0 out to pasture

March 3, 2015 // 11:43 a.m.

Tags: #api #direct3d #directx #directx-12 #glnext #mantle #raja-koduri #vulkan

AMD has advised developers interested in its low-level Mantle application programming interface (API) to shift their efforts to DirectX 12 and the Khronos Group's Vulkan APIs, all-but retiring the API as it exists today.

AMD introduced Mantle in September 2013, and while there were some delays and hiccoughs in bringing the low-latency API to market it enjoyed considerable support in its first year: EA patched support in to Battlefield 4 while companies including Cloud Imperium, Eidos, Oxide, Crytek and Rebellion Entertainment all confirmed they would either develop games with Mantle in mind or release patches to add Mantle support post-launch. With Mantle, the promise went, games would run more smoothly, be able to make better use of the graphics hardware in a system, and reduce CPU load. In future generations of the API, AMD has even promised an end to the RAM-halving in multi-GPU systems.

Mantle has its competition, however. Many of the advantages promised by AMD's API are also expected to make an appearance in Direct3D 12, the latest entry in Microsoft's proprietary DirectX API family, later this year. Today, the Khronos Group - of which AMD is a member - also announced Vulkan, another low-latency API designed for near-bare-metal access and again offering many of the advantages promised by Mantle. With DirectX 12 and Vulkan both offering cross-vendor support to AMD's Mantle exclusivity, developers are naturally concentrating more on these than Mantle - with AMD's blessing.

'Today we are especially thoughtful about Mantle’s future. In the approaching era of DirectX 12 and the Next-Generation OpenGL Initiative [now Vulkan], AMD is helping to develop two incredibly powerful APIs that leverage many capabilities of the award-winning Graphics Core Next (GCN) Architecture,' explained AMD's Raja Koduri in a blog post published late last night. 'AMD’s game development partners have similarly started to shift their focus, so it follows that 2015 will be a transitional year for Mantle.' That transition, it seems, being a functional retirement.

Koduri has claimed that AMD willl 'continue to support our trusted partners that have committed to Mantle in future projects, like Battlefield Hardline, with all the resources at our disposal.' Koduri has also pledged to further open the standard, which will now become fully open in place of the planned release of a public yet proprietary software development kit (SDK) beginning with the public release of a 450-page programming guide and API reference this month.

The biggest surprise of Koduri's post, however, comes in the admission that Mantle as it exists today is to be replaced by its rivals. 'If you are a developer interested in Mantle "1.0" functionality, we suggest that you focus your attention on DirectX 12 or GLnext [Vulkan],' Koduri warned, and while the company has pledged to continue to evolve Mantle and support existing Mantle customers it is now positioning the API as for 'select partners with custom needs' rather than the industry as a whole.
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