AMD changes the direction its low-level graphics API Mantle is heading towards, now that DirectX 12 and glNext have been announced.
Back in 2013, AMD has unveiled the Mantle low-level Graphics API, sparking the conversation on low-level Graphical APIs, their use and performance benefits. It ended up being used in a number of AAA games, including Battlefield 4, Thief, Dragon Age: Inquisition and integrated in Crytek's engine. It also was the instigator that pushed Microsoft's development of DX12 along, and it's one of the main reasons why this year at GDC, we have talks of DirectX 12 and glNext, both low-level APIs.
With DirectX 12 and Khronos' glNext announced, Mantle's future is put into questioning, or at least its potential of becoming an open API. A post over on AMD's gaming blog written by Robert Hallock has announced a 450-programming guide and API reference page for Mantle will be made available this month, while the full-access version, its "1.0" form is at the end of its life.
"The Mantle SDK also remains available to partners who register in this co-development and evaluation program. However, if you are a developer interested in Mantle "1.0" functionality, we suggest that you focus your attention on DirectX® 12 or GLnext." the blog post reads.
What does it mean for Mantle thought? AMD has stated that five game-engines and 10-AAA titles currently support Mantle 1.0 in its Closed-Beta. Its greatest benefits: reduced CPU usage from low-level command buffer transmission, and improved draw-call are features DX12 and glNext sport. Since key features from the API are currently present in glNext/DirectX 12, there's little to nothing AMD can bring new to the table. It will release the specificationss for Mantle 1.0, AMD continue to mantain the closed-beta program with its partners, but cancel the Mantle SDK.
What will happen to the API is not yet known. It could be a private-label API for developers who want key features that are not available on DirectX and openGL, or be used as a test-bed for new features. This week, AMD had two announcements to make: the first was the disclosure of Mantle's status, while the second one is expected to be made later on the 5th.
Lastly, from a consumer perspective, Mantle isn't dead yet. It's still present in AMDs drivers, and applications using it will continue to work. There are still many a Mantle enable title expected to be released (every upcoming Frostbite game, for example). Still, what happens post 2015 though - after DirectX 12 and glNext are released - is still a mistery, since developers capable of working with Mantle will find similar features from DX12 once it will be ready.