With AMD now powering all three of the latest gaming consoles, Microsoft Xbox One, Sony PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Wii U, the company is now seizing the opportunity to extend and evolve the gaming developer community by releasing a new API (codenamed Mantle) to directly tap into the hardware capabilities of AMD's GCN-based GPUs (such as the Jaguar-core based AMD Kabini APU) and unleash the full performance potential of the GPU in an efficient manner. Here's the official statement from AMD pertaining to this new initiative:-
Mantle, an AMD initiative to create a new graphics programming model that fully exploits the capabilities of modern GPUs, allows game developers to speak the native language of the AMD Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture, providing a deeper level of hardware optimization no other graphics card manufacturer can match.
As part of this initiative, we have worked with leading game developers to create an API specification and associated graphics driver that enables this model on PCs with GCN-based graphics hardware. Mantle was created in direct response to requests from leading game developers, so interest is very high.
Interestingly, the mantle is also commonly known as the layer below the earth's crust and is associated with volcanism. This is probably why AMD chose Hawaii's Diamond Head Crater location to kick start the GPU14 Tech Day pre-event activities for the media to show off the hidden possibilities of this initiative. Active volcanic activity along the Pacific Rim of Fire have helped create the beautiful islands of Hawaii and likewise, AMD's seeding of the Mantle initiative could result in an explosive growth of game development if majority of the game developers are sold on AMD's idea.
This new low-level programming interface is the crux to tapping the true performance of the AMD GCN GPUs which the Frostbite 3 game engine from EA Games is working to support. In fact, Frostite 3 will render natively with Mantle in Windows without needing to use DirectX 11 when used with compatible AMD Radeon GPUs. A lightweight Mantle driver will allow direct access to the GCN GPU's hardware while developers concerned with hopping aboard this new API can take solace that its compatible with DirectX HLSL (high level shading language) for simplified porting. At the end of the day, Mantle seeks to bridge the differences in developing for PC gaming and console gaming and bring to consumers all sorts of games at a quicker pace:-
EA Games' Battlefield 4 is the first game to support AMD Mantle, but it will still launch normally on October 29th with AMD Mantle support updated in a December update.