Interview with AMD's Matt Skynner about Mantle and new Radeon cards

More backround about AMD's GPU14 introductions



At last week's GPU14 Tech Days Hardware.Info interviewed Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's graphics business unit. He's responsible for all AMD GPUs. We discussed the new Mantle API and the newly announced graphics cards.

Hardware.Info: “Two of the main announcements during the GPU14 are Mantle and TrueAudio. What they have in common is that both technologies are only compatible with specific AMD graphics cards. What impact will this have on the PC ecosystem, which tends to have open standards?”

Skynner: “Mantle is one of the components of the Unified Gaming Strategy we announced earlier this year during GDC. AMD wants to be at the forefront of all forms of gaming: consoles, PC gaming, cloud gaming, and so. Since the next generation consoles all run on AMD GPUs, GCN (ed: Graphics Core Next) and therefore Mantle are already a standard.

With Mantle we want to bring the PC and consoles closer together. On consoles developers have been able to program much closer to the hardware since the beginning, and for years game developers have been asking for a PC equivalent. It was the developers reaching out to AMD, not the other way around. Mantle will enable developers to work with PCs in a console-like manner.”

Hardware.Info: “The introduction of Mantle reminds us of when 3DFX came out with its own API called Glide. It lost the battle against open APIs such as DirectX and OpenGL.”

Skynner: “The times we're in now can't be compared to when Glide was introduced. At that time, there was no such thing as standard game engines. Each game would have its own engine programmed directly to the API. Unreal didn't exist, much less the Unreal engine. Today most games use engines, and a number of popular ones such as Frostbite are used for the majority of modern games.

And because Mantle is integrated into Frostbite 3, the technology will be used in many games in the years to come. If other engines choose to support Mantle as well, things can move fast.”

Hardware.Info: “But why should other engines include Mantle? Since Mantle works with Graphics Core Next, it's not compatible with Nvidia or Intel GPUs. Or will consoles also have Mantle?”

Skynner: “We're currently only talking about Mantle on PC, at this time we can't say anything about consoles. But it's clear that exactly that combination of consoles and PC would be a big advantage of Mantle. The majority of games developed today are 'console first', first developed for consoles and then ported to PC. Mantle will make it much easier for developers to port games to the PC.”

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