1 2 3 Previous Next

AMD Gaming

357 Posts

WANTED: Experienced RPGers, tabletoppers and fantasy gamers that have grown weary of Wizards and Sorcs hamstrung by silly things like cooldowns, spells per day and expensive reagents. We know you pine for raining Meteor Swarms upon unsuspecting foes like an April Shower. If that sounds appealing to you, then perhaps Lichdom: Battlemage is the game for you.

 

Let me sweeten the deal a little further: Lichdom is optimized for AMD Radeon™ customers with the world’s first implementation of TressFX Hair v2.0, AMD TrueAudio technology, AMD Eyefinity technology, and validation for 4K gaming.1,2 With the power of unlimited magic, you get sweet gameplay. And with the power of AMD Gaming Evolved, you get sweet technology. Let’s dig in!

 

YOU ARE A BADASS

Welcome to the first game where the Mage is an unmitigated badass! With no mana pools or cool-downs, Lichdom: Battlemage throws out all of the classic tropes of playing a Mage. No longer is the character marginalized so that other classes can adventure through the same levels, and finally the true jaw-dropping potential of magic has been realized.

 

Lichdom: Battlemage is a first-person caster that focuses entirely on the Mage. With limitless magical power at your disposal and brutal enemies around every corner, victory hinges on a combination of skill and strategy. You must carefully craft a vast array of spells and learn to cast them in the heat of combat.

The Lichdom: Battlemage spell crafting system offers an enormous range of customization. Every Mage is the product of crafted magic that reflects the individual's play style. Whether you prefer to target your foes from a safe distance, wade into combat and unleash your power at point-blank range, or pit your enemies against each other, endless spell customization lets you become the Mage you want to be.

 

TRESSFX HAIR V2.0

For the complete story on TressFX Hair v2.0, you should read our recent blog that comprehensively explores the technology’s latest developments. However, below I’ve compiled an executive summary of the changes:

  • New functionality to support for grass and fur
  • Continuous levels of details (LODs) are designed to improve performance by dynamically adjusting visual detail as TressFX-enabled objects move towards and away from the player’s POV
  • Improved efficiency with many light sources and shaders via deferred rendering
  • Superior self-shadowing for better depth and texture in the hair
  • Even more robust scalability across GPUs of varying performance envelopes (v.s. TressFX 1.0)
  • Modular code and porting documentation
  • Stretchiness now respects the laws of physics
  • and numerous bug fixes!

 

In general, TressFX 2.0 is a much more detailed, efficient and laws-of-physics-abiding technology than ever before. Awesome!

 

tressfxgryphon.jpg

And it’s double awesome that Lichdom: Battlemage is the very first game to make use of TressFX Hair v2.0. The effect is most prominently utilized on The Gryphon, a companion character to the protagonist. Both the male and female Gryphons feature TressFX, however the effect on the female companion is more pronounced by virtue of her haircut. You encounter The Gryphon early in Lichdom: Battlemage, and re-encounter her or him often throughout the game.

 

AMD TRUEAUDIO TECHNOLOGY

AMD TrueAudio technology is a hardware-level feature found on the AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2, R9 290X, R9 290, R9 285, R7 260X and R7 260 graphics cards. A small block of audio processing hardware is integrated directly into the graphics chips in these products. That audio processing hardware is called a “Digital Signal Processor,” or DSP.

 

blocks.png

A high-level diagram of the Tensilica Xtensa HiFi EP DSP cores and the associated hardware that comprises AMD TrueAudio technology
in an AMD Radeon™ graphics chip.

 

A DSP is specialized silicon dedicated to the task of processing digital signals. Example applications for a DSP include: audio compression, audio filtering, speech processing and recognition, simulating audio environments, creating 3D sound fields and more.

 

DSPs are fully programmable, which allows developers to creatively harness the hardware in ways limited only by their imagination and skill. We are striving with AMD TrueAudio to give game developers a blank canvas for new and never-before-heard audio environments and techniques. We hope that, with time, game developers will do with programmable audio what programmable graphics pipelines did for PC graphics.

 

Best of all, the hardware-accelerated effects of AMD TrueAudio technology are experienced with any old stereo headphones. Your headset or earbuds will do just fine!

 

chain.png

AMD TrueAudio effects are processed and applied as in-game audio is being generated. This allows the user to experience
AMD TrueAudio with plain stereo headphones and any existing sound chip.


AMD TRUEAUDIO IN LICHDOM: BATTLEMAGE

With respect to Lichdom: Battlemage, AMD TrueAudio is utilized to calculate an effect called “convolution reverb.” Convolution reverb is a technique that mathematically simulates the echoes (i.e. reverberation) of a real-life location. This effect is accomplished by recording an “impulse response,” which is a snapshot of the echo characteristics of a real-world location. That impulse response is fed back into software that can recreate that behavior in a PC game.

 

Lichdom: Battlemage uses this technique to make buildings, cathedrals, alleyways and other in-game venues sound quite like they would in real life! In an environment where there are adjacent areas with different echo characteristics and impulse response (example: a cathedral adjacent to a cave and an open space), multiple convolution reverbs must be processed in parallel to create the most realistic sound environment. This effect is automatically enabled when an AMD TrueAudio-capable GPU is configured on the system.

 

You can experience the convolution reverbs for yourself most prominently in the level immediately following the opening tutorial mission. The soaring caverns and claustrophobic tunnels of the second stage make for an exciting and complex acoustic environment.

 

BIG SCREENS

Lichdom: Battlemage has achieved “validated” status for Eyefinity technology 3x1 configurations. This means that the user will enjoy the proper field of view, all menus and HUD elements will be placed correctly, cutscenes will be played without unexpected cropping or stretching, and more.  This is the highest level of compatibility we can award to any game. Additionally, this validation definitely makes Lichdom: Battlemage ready for 4K60 MST and 4K60 SST UltraHD displays!

 

PERFORMANCE

As an AMD Gaming Evolved title, performance on Lichdom: Battlemage solidly offers an advantage to AMD Radeon™ graphics cards. See the benchmarks below for results and recommended graphics settings for your GPU.3

 

Additionally, while the AMD Radeon™ R7 260X and R7 260 are unlisted in our charts, these users should run the game at 1080p with medium quality settings. TressFX Hair v2.0 and anti-aliasing should be disabled. Performance on these graphics cards can be in the mid- to high-30s with these settings.3lichdom_perf1.png

lichdom_perf2.png

lichdom_perf3.png

WRAP-UP

If you have a hankering to be the Mage you always wished you could be, then pick up a copy of Lichdom: Battlemage from Steam today. And as you blast your way through cities and ruins overrun with the occult, take a moment to admire the scenery and the technology—you won’t be disappointed.

 


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Gaming & Desktop Graphics at AMD.

His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only.  Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of

AMD or any of its products is implied.


FOOTNOTES:

  1. AMD TrueAudio technology is offered by select AMD Radeon™ R9 and R7 200 Series GPUs and is designed to improve acoustic realism. Requires enabled game or application. Not all audio equipment supports all audio effects; additional audio equipment may be required for some audio effects. Not all products feature all technologies — check with your component or system manufacturer for specific capabilities.
  2. AMD Eyefinity technology supports multiple monitors on an enabled graphics card. Supported display quantity, type and resolution vary by model and board design; confirm specifications with manufacturer before purchase. To enable more than three displays, or multiple displays from a single output, additional hardware such as DisplayPort™-ready monitors or DisplayPort 1.2 MST-enabled hubs may be required. A maximum of two active adapters is recommended for consumer systems. See www.amd.com/eyefinityfaq for full details.
  3. All resolutions and quality levels described by the performance diagrams were tested by AMD performance labs on the following platform: Intel Core i7-4970X, Asus X79 Sabertooth, 16GB DDR3-1866, Windows 8.1 x64. AMD Catalyst™ revision: 14.7 RC3. NVIDIA driver revision: 340.52 WHQL.

Since introducing TressFX Hair in the smash hit Tomb Raider™ last year, we’ve been diligently working to optimize the technology, enable compatibility with more platforms, and add new features. Today we wanted to take a little bit of your time to tell you about what’s new with TressFX Hair, and where the technology will be going in the near term.

 

Before we dive in, however, a quick primer on the history of TressFX Hair feels warranted to set the stage. TressFX Hair was the world’s first real-time hair physics simulation in a playable game. TressFX brought an end to the era of short hair, fixed hairstyles, helmets and other unseemly workarounds structured to disguise the limited nature of hair technology.

 

In fact, TressFX Hair represented the first occasion that a hair physics technology had ever made an appearance on the PC outside of limited technical demos. AMD and Crystal Dynamics collaborated extensively to develop and optimize the technology for PC gamers, and to give Lara Croft the unabashedly contemporary look she deserved for a new chapter in her story.

 

LEVERAGING AMD RADEON™ GRAPHICS ACROSS PLATFORMS

Over the past year, we at AMD have remarked on more than one occasion that bringing AMD Radeon™ Graphics and AMD APU technologies to life on multiple gaming platforms would pay dividends for gamers. That prediction came true with the remastered Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for Xbox One™ and PS4™. In this revisiting, TressFX Hair made its debut outside of the PC space for the very first time.

tressfx.jpg

“Getting TressFX Hair running on PlayStation® 4 and Xbox One™ benefited from the fact that AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture powers the graphics of these platforms,” said Gary Snethen, Chief Technology Officer of Crystal Dynamics. “We were already familiar with GCN from our collaboration with AMD on Tomb Raider, and that experience was instrumental when it was time to bring TressFX Hair to life on consoles with Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.”

 

Citing the Graphics Core Next architecture2 as the motivation to broaden the audience for TressFX Hair is an important occasion, as it validated in practice the idea that a common architecture makes it easier to share code across the platforms targeted by a development studio. From another perspective, it shows gamers that this cross-platform simplicity enables new headroom to explore in-game effects—effects that may have gone unused in past generations due to insufficient ROI.

 

TALE OF TWO HAIRCUTS
TressFX Hair was certainly impressive from a visual perspective, but less discussed is the operational efficiency that compels appreciation on both technical and philosophical grounds. To put a fine point on that, we wanted to illustrate the actual performance impact of AMD’s TressFX Hair contrasted against NVIDIA’s Hairworks.

 

In the below diagram, we isolated the specific routine that renders these competing hair technologies and plotted the results. The bars indicate the portion of time required, in milliseconds, to render the hair from start to finish within one frame of a user’s total framerate. In this scenario, a lower bar is better as that demonstrates quicker time to completion through more efficient code.

tfx_tr_perf.png

In the diagram, you can see that TressFX Hair exhibits an identically low performance impact on both AMD and NVIDIA hardware at just five milliseconds. Our belief in “doing the work for everyone” with open and modifiable code allowed Tomb Raider’s developer to achieve an efficient implementation regardless of the gamer’s hardware.

 

In contrast, NVIDIA’s Hairworks technology is seven times slower on AMD hardware with no obvious route to achieve cross-vendor optimizations as enabled by open access to TressFX source. As the code for Hairworks cannot be downloaded, analyzed or modified, developers and enthusiasts alike must suffer through unacceptably poor performance on a significant chunk of the industry’s graphics hardware.

 

With TressFX Hair, the value of openly-shared game code is clear.

 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR TRESSFX HAIR?

As Crystal Dynamics worked to bring TressFX to other platforms, we have been busy developing an even newer version of our award-winning hair tech. In November we announced “TressFX 2.0,” an update to the effect that brings several notable changes:

  • New functionality to support for grass and fur
  • Continuous levels of details (LODs) are designed to improve performance by dynamically adjusting visual detail as TressFX-enabled objects move towards and away from the player’s POV
  • Improved efficiency with many light sources and shaders via deferred rendering
  • Superior self-shadowing for better depth and texture in the hair
  • Even more robust scalability across GPUs of varying performance envelopes (vs. TressFX 1.0)
  • Modular code and porting documentation
  • Stretchiness now respects the laws of physics
  • and numerous bug fixes!

 

Starting with grass and fur, implementing realistic physics for these objects is rather similar to hair: treat each strand as a chain, group chains together, and then apply an external force. There is obviously some voodoo at work to make grass and fur behave more like grass and fur, and rather less like long hair, but the principles are so similar that they’re a logical extension to TressFX’s capabilities.

 

In designing TressFX 2.0, we addressed a notable issue in our hair physics simulation: stretchiness. Extreme linear and angular acceleration of a fast-moving or fast-turning character could cause the hair sim to appear unnaturally stretchy. In very rare instances, the physics model could even prevent the hair from ever recovering its original length.

 

While AMD and Crystal Dynamics were largely able to overcome this problem by performing rolling iterations of a “length constraint” system in Tomb Raider, we wanted to fix it permanently and more efficiently. TressFX 2.0 addresses this issue head-on through R&D and the creation of a new General Constraint Formulation, which is designed to be considerably more accurate than the old model at dealing with the forces of acceleration on a head of hair’s global and local (per-strand) level.

Additionally, we overhauled the math behind the aforementioned “chain” structure of hair, grass and fur. We now use the Thomas Algorithm to evaluate the behavior of these objects, and this is notable because the Thomas Algorithm is very efficient and lightweight with respect to GPU number crunching. The end result for you: hair that behaves more realistically.

tressfx_math.png

Behind-the-scenes R&D work for TressFX 2.0; simplifying the TressFX Hair algorithm.

 

Next, we wanted to illustrate the impact self-shadowing (right) has on the texture and depth found in a head of hair

shadowing2.jpg

Finally, we’ll take a look at TressFX 2.0’s LOD levels. As indicated earlier in this blog, a LOD level brings scalable detail to a system of 3D objects. As LOD-enabled objects move away from you, detail is reduced by a system that sustains the apparent quality for the player—you shouldn’t notice a thing if we do our job right! Inversely, when an object moves closer to you, the detail levels are slowly dialed up to maximum in a manner that, again, should be largely imperceptible to the player.

 

The primary benefit of a LOD system is an improvement in overall system performance. With LOD levels, the GPU needn’t render a full-detail head of hair when those details are beyond the visual acuity of the player’s position in the game world.

lod_levels.png

THE FIRST TRESSFX 2.0 GAME

Beyond improvements to the effect, many gamers have asked about the next game to use TressFX Hair, and I’m pleased to say it’s Lichdom: Battlemage! The team at Xaviant is making healthy use of TressFX Hair 2.0, and had this to say about their decision to adopt TressFX:

 

“TressFX Hair is the most impressive advancement in visual fidelity in the past 24 months,” said Michael McCain, CEO and Founder, Xaviant. “TressFX proved that significant leaps in realism are still possible, even in an age where many have expressed skepticism about the very possibility of such a leap occurring. The beauty, simplicity and performance of TressFX—especially compared to its alternatives—made it an obvious choice to augment the commitment to image quality we have for Lichdom.”

 

Lichdom: Battlemage prominently uses TressFX Hair to render the female version of The Gryphon, a companion/aid to the player when a male protagonist is chosen. Her short bob haircut moves and shines just as you would expect real hair to do.

 

 

A MULTI-PLATFORM WORLD

TressFX Hair took the PC gaming world by storm, chiefly because it demonstrated that 3D graphics needn’t be incremental improvements—big and unexpected leaps can still happen! We were (and still are) very proud of that fact.

 

TressFX Hair also demonstrated the power of being transparent with your code when working with game developers. By collaborating so closely with Crystal Dynamics on TressFX Hair, we were able to make the technology efficient for all hardware, quickly incorporate the lessons and feedback from Tomb Raider™ into the 2.0 version TressFX, and make those improvements publicly available in source code form for adoption in games like Lichdom: Battlemage!

 

Finally and excitingly for gamers everywhere, Crystal Dynamics’ decision to adopt TressFX Hair for Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition shows that cross-pollination between PCs and consoles is not only possible, but happening right now and improving the overall experience on all platforms.

 

SUPPORTING RESOURCES

 


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Gaming & Desktop Graphics at AMD.  His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.


FOOTNOTES:

  1. All performance evaluation conducted on the following platform: Intel Core-i7 4960X, ASUS X79 Sabertooth, 16GB DDR3-1866, Windows 8.1 x64. AMD Driver: 14.2 Beta 1.3. NVIDIA Driver: 334.89. Settings: 1920x1080, maximum in-game quality preset.
  2. >Select AMD Radeon graphic cards are based on the GCN Architecture and include its associated features (AMD PowerTune technology, AMD ZeroCore Power technology, PCI Express 3.0, etc.). Not all features are supported by all products—check with your system manufacturer for specific model capabilities.

3399_RADEON30_EMAILBNR_FNL.png

 

AMD and its retail partners would like to thank you for tuning into the #AMD30Live broadcast to celebrate 30 years of graphics and gaming with us! To commemorate the occasion, many of those fine retailers have assembled some killer deals for gamers all over the world. Check the list below and jump on the ones you gotta have!

 

RETAILERTHE DEALNEED IT?
NeweggGet a free SSD when you buy an AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2Get it!
Overclockers.co.ukGet a limited edition metal box Sapphire Radeon™ R9 295X2 and a FREE Superflower 1200W power supplyGet it!
TigerDirectSave up to $250 when you buy a new PSU with an AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2Get it!
NCIXSave up to $200 when you buy a new PSU with an AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2Get it!
NeweggSave up to $225 when you buy a new PSU with an AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2Get it!
CyberPowerPCBuying a rig? Get a free upgrade from an AMD Radeon™ R9 270X 2GB to XFX Radeon™ R9 280 3GBGet it!
iBUYPOWERPCs starting from $589 with a free upgrade to an AMD FX-6300 CPUGet it!
TigerDirectSave big on CPU+GPU bundles featuring AMD Radeon R9 290, R9 270 or R7 250 graphicsGet it!
LDLCGreat deals on an AMD Radeon™ R9 290 and power supply bundle starting at €379.95Get it!
CaseKingSave big when you purchase an XFX brand AMD Radeon™ graphics card and a Leadex power supplyGet it!
CSLGet a complete AMD Radeon™ R9 280X-based gaming PC from just €1099Get it!
UlmartMultiply retailer bonuses by five with the purchase of a Sapphire Radeon™ R9 290XGet it!
DanteGet a great deal on a Sapphire Radeon™ R9 295X2 and a Dell display!Get it!
Flipkart

CHOOSE ONE:
Buy any AMD Radeon™ R9 Series graphics card and get select games free.

Buy any AMD Radeon™ R9 Series GPU and get a chance to win a free gaming headset, mouse, keyboard and mousepad!
Buy any AMD Radeon™ R9 Series GPU and get 20% off any PC game. Offer valid for 90 days.

Get 'em!

As we head into the dog days of summer, EA wants to give thanks to all their loyal players and would  like to do that with a big ol’ AMD Radeon™-filled program called Battlefest! The program kicked off on July 9th, so you should get in on the action immediately after giving the below details a read!

battlefest.png

Here's what you need to know about Battlefest:

  • From July 9th through August 13th, there will be a daily contest called “Battleshots.” EA will ask you to send a screenshot in Battlefield 4™ based on a theme of their choosing. Screenshots get submitted here. Each day, they will crown a winning screenshot that will win an AMD Radeon™ graphics card, a DICE store gift card, and a Battlefield 4™ Premium membership on the platform of your choosing. (See official rules.)
  • Each Friday, the Battlefield™ team will be releasing a free camo unlock for all players.
  • To kick off the program on July 12th-13th there was a double XP weekend!
  • Each week of Battlefest will feature a global community challenge to reach an in-game goal. If the global BF4 community meets the goal, everyone gets a gold Battlepack. The first Community Mission begins July 15 with a challenge to reach 15 million revives by July 20. Good luck, soldiers!
  • Last but not least, the Stunt Video Competition runs July 14 through August 2. We want you to send us your best stunt video that can only be done in Battlefield 4™. The DICE team will pick the top 12 winners and then you, the loyal fans, will vote on the top three winners to receive a screamin’ fast AMD-based PC valued at $3100 US! The nine runners up won’t go home empty-handed, either: each one will receive a high-end AMD Radeon™ GPU. (See official rules.)

That’s it! A month of “thank you” to everyone. Keep your eyes on the Battlefield™ Blog for even more Battlefest prizes and announcements in the weeks ahead!


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Desktop Graphics at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

Two new games, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare and Sniper Elite III, both became available recently. These games have been hotly anticipated, and both offer gameplay that’s novel and engrossing. What’s more, both games benefit from close cooperation with AMD, and Sniper Elite III even joins our Never Settle Forever game bundle program.

 

In Sniper Elite III, the developers’ goal is to faithfully simulate what it’s like to be a real military sniper. That means stealth is paramount, wind and ballistic effects are realistic and you must be careful and deliberate in your moves. Every shot is precious, and the damage done is deconstructed in slow motion to convey the devastation a sniper’s bullet causes. The tension runs high.

 

The experience of playing this game really is unique. For those who prefer sniping to running and gunning, it’s hard to beat. Only seeing the game in action can really make the point. Click here to watch the trailer. (WARNING: This game isn’t for everyone. It’s extremely graphic, and so is the trailer. It’s rated M for mature audiences by the ESRB and 16+ by PEGI).


Sniper Elite III is part of the Never Settle Forever Gold and Silver tiers. Buyers of qualifying AMD Radeon™ graphics cards can get it now.

 

If shredding human anatomy isn’t your thing, don’t despair. Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare combines strategy, tactics and lighthearted fantasy weapons into addictive, fast-paced multiplayer mayhem.

 

Its unique cartoon style sets the mood, but don’t mistake its appearance for a lack of sophistication; it runs on the same powerful Frostbite 3 engine that powers Battlefield 4. Many elements of the multiplayer action will feel familiar to fans of the Battlefield games.

 

Plant mushroom sentries, call in corn strikes or tunnel beneath the lawn for a sneak attack. The action is definitely weird, but that’s part of the series’ long-standing appeal.

 

Rated for players age 10 and above, and making relatively modest demands on hardware, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare is sure to be a hit with a very large number of PC gamers. It’s is one of three titles developed by EA in conjunction with our Gaming Evolved program for this season. Dragon Age Inquisition and Battlefield Hardline will follow.

 

Just in case the arrival of these games doesn’t excite you enough, take note that both also will also support the Mantle API. Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare can be run with Mantle now; Sniper Elite III will have Mantle support activated in an upcoming update. The end result is that games using AMD technology  can get the best possible gameplay experience with these titles, and Mantle will have its already-strong reputation bolstered with two new and popular games added to its portfolio.

 

It spite of the slowdown that usually happens this time of year, there couldn’t be a more exciting time for AMD Gaming Evolved and Never Settle Forever.

 

Happy hunting!

 

Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

Since launching a few months ago, the AMD Gaming Evolved Client is now used by over 8 million gamers around the world. That means that over 8 million gamers are:

 

  • Benefitting from automatic gameplay and progress tracking;
  • Earning Reward Points that can be redeemed for sweepstakes entries, swag and merchandise;
  • Getting access to one-click crowdsourced game setting optimizations for over 200 games;
  • Putting all their games in one place for easy access and maintenance.

 

Today we’re happy to announce some new features that will bring even more gaming excitement to those millions of users. These features are BETA additions to the AMD Gaming Evolved Client. They will be completely polished soon, but in the meantime we invite you to try them out.

 

The first of these features is digital video recording, or DVR. Just like the popular feature many people use with their TVs, the new DVR feature is always recording your gameplay, making up to the last 10 minutes available for replay, saving and sharing. The next time you bust an astounding move, you’ll be able to share it with all your friends. The feature is intended to be left always on, so you never have to worry about forgetting it, and the overhead required to keep it running in the background is minimal. It’s a terrific way of saving and sharing your best moments, including the ones you didn’t plan for.

 

As great as DVR is, sometimes a recording is not what you’re after and only live action will do. For that, we’re happy to announce that Twitch is now integrated into the AMD Gaming Evolved Client. Twitch is the leading platform for live game streaming. Now you can use it to share live gameplay, broadcast tournaments and show your skills to the world, all from within the AMD Gaming Evolved Client.


To top it all off, this newest version of the AMD Gaming Evolved Client (version 3.9) implements some exciting improvements to the user interface, making it easier to use than ever before, and seamlessly integrating the newest features.

 

Remember, the DVR and Twitch streaming features are in beta, so there are still some kinks to work out. But we invite you to try the new features and let us know what you think. We hope you find the new additions as exciting as we do.

 

Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

Since we updated our famous Never Settle Forever game bundle program back in April we’ve been hearing tremendously positive feedback from gamers and the press. To prove that we really never settle, we’re announcing an exciting new game title that have been added to the Radeon™ GOLD and SILVER Reward tiers, as well as one bonus game title that’s available with every AMD Radeon™ R9 Series or R7 Series graphics card purchase (available on all Radeon™ Reward tiers).

 

At the top of the news is the release on June 3 of Murdered: Soul Suspect. Gamers have been able to choose this title as a Never Settle reward for some time, but now that the game has launched those folks who actually chose this title will be receiving their game codes so they can finally download and play this highly anticipated film noir-style thriller1.

 

As well as being a terrific game to play, Murdered: Soul Suspect is also striking to look at. Features like ambient occlusion and depth-of-field increase realism and immersion for gamers. The screenshots below demonstrate how great this game looks. Click them to enlarge.

 

1.jpg

2.jpg

3.jpg

Next up is some equally big news: Sniper Elite™ 3 is joining Never Settle Forever! This game launches on June 27, but gamers can choose it now and get their codes on launch day.

 

Sniper Elite is already an extremely popular series. In this version you continue as American OSS sniper ace Karl Fairburne. Graphics, bullet mechanics and damage effects have all been improved since the last version, which was pretty impressive to begin with. Also getting major attention is the game’s famous X-Ray Killcam: bodies look  more anatomically correct, with new layers for muscle and the circulatory system, and damage physics are dynamically modeled for the first time, making every hit unique. See the X-Ray Killcam demonstrated on a truck engine in the first screenshot below.

5.jpg

6.jpg

11.jpg

 

As if that wasn’t enough, Sniper Elite™ 3 also supports Mantle! That’s because it’s built on Rebellion’s Asura game engine. Rebellion was one of the first developers to commit to supporting Mantle, and Sniper Elite 3 is just the first Asura-powered game that will do so.

 

Finally we have a very special bonus offer for everyone who takes part in Never Settle Forever. When you redeem your Radeon™ Reward, you’ll have the opportunity to get these valuable, AMD-exclusive, in-game items for the popular free-to-play title Dragons and Titans™ as a special bonus:

 

  • An exclusive AMD Gaming Evolved avatar;
  • An arcfury dragon to strike lightning on and generally harass your enemies;
  • A Hades skin pack to make that arcfury look especially furious;
  • A nifty stormcaller trident, handy for electrocuting baddies;
  • An assortment of Tier I runes (ten of them) to enhance your dragon’s battle prowess
  • 5 Epic War Marks for rapid dragon lord advancement;
  • 100 potions for quick health boosts in the heat of battle.

 

9.jpg

Those are some pretty mighty augmentations for a budding dragon lord, and they’re available as a FREE BONUS WITH EVERY RADEON™ REWARD TIER. You can find out more about Titans and Dragons™ here.

 

That brings this Never Settle Forever update to a close, but that doesn’t mean we’re settling! Keep visiting for regular updates on new additions to this sensational program.

 

Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.




FOOTNOTES:


  1. If you selected Murdered: Soul Suspect as an AMD Radeon™ Reward and haven’t received your download instructions yet, please email support@amd4u.com.
jlebo

More Mantle games are on the way

Posted by jlebo Jun 10, 2014

Hello PC gaming fans!

 

With the recent announcement of widespread availability of the entire AMD Radeon™ R9 Series graphics lineup at original suggested list prices, there could hardly be a better time to get your game on with AMD.

 

This week we’re focusing on one of the AMD Radeon R9 Series graphics cards’ most compelling attributes: Mantle API support. Mantle is already enjoying rapid industry adoption, but there are a few recent developments that are once again causing Mantle to make news in the media:

 

  • On March 19 we announced a technology partnership that will add Mantle support to CRYENGINE® — the game engine behind blockbuster titles like Crysis and FarCry.

  • On March 20 Microsoft announced DirectX® 12, the next major evolution of its own game API. This is terrific news because it really draws attention to the value of low-level programming and Mantle’s leading contribution. With DirectX 12 games still over 18 months away and no alternatives in sight for Linux gamers, Mantle’s future looks bright.

  • On April 14 we announced that the upcoming release of Sid Meier’s Civilization®: Beyond Earth will support Mantle. In case you’re not familiar with the series, the current iteration is Civilization V, which, despite being nearly four years old, remains the sixth most played game according to Steam1With Mantle in its arsenal, the next installment could be even bigger.

  • On April 16 we published a Mantle whitepaper, giving developers and enthusiast gamers a deep, technical insight into the technology. Have a look to find out how Mantle delivers such dramatic performance increases.

  • On May 1 we launched the Mantle SDK beta, which made Mantle available to a much greater number and variety of game developers. That should help accelerate the proliferation of Mantle-enabled game titles.

  • On June 9 EA announced that three of its upcoming games would support Mantle: Battlefield Hardline, Dragon Age Inquisition and Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare. Each of these brings new features, maps and gameplay to already-popular franchises. If the results we saw with Mantle in Battlefield 4 are anything to go by, these games should absolutely fly on AMD Radeon™ hardware.

  These are a few of the reasons Mantle remains top-of-mind for developers and game devotees. Here are some examples of what developers have to say: 


  • “Crytek prides itself on enabling CRYENGINE with the latest and most impressive rendering capabilities. By integrating AMD’s new Mantle API, CRYENGINE will gain a dimension of ‘lower level’ hardware access that enables extraordinary efficiency, performance and hardware control.”  Cevat Yerli, Founder, CEO & President of Crytek.

  • "AMD's Mantle will allow us to extract more performance from an AMD Radeon GPU than any other graphics API," Chris Roberts, CEO, Cloud Imperium Games.

  • "Mantle lets you use AMD Radeon GPUs the way they are meant to be used, unlocking many new opportunities and increased CPU and GPU performance. Because of this, Mantle is one of the most important changes to PC graphics in many years." David Anfossi, studio head, Eidos-Montréal.

  • "AMD's Mantle technology lets us get more out of the hardware than any other solution available. Adding Mantle support to our multi-platform, 64-bit Nitrous engine realizes significant gains in performance on Mantle-enabled hardware without adding enormous development overhead." Dan Baker, co-founder, Oxide Games.

There couldn’t be a better time to buy an AMD Radeon™ R9 Series graphics card, all of which include Mantle API support. They are, simply, for gamers who demand the best.

 

 

Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 


1 http://store.steampowered.com/stats/?snr=1_steam_4__110 May 16, 2014

jlebo

Mixed resolution Eyefinity

Posted by jlebo May 30, 2014

While 4K monitors continue to proliferate and, we hope, become more affordable, it’s still hard to beat a multi-monitor setup1. That’s especially true if you already have a monitor or two; combining them and buying one or two HD monitors to make a 3-screen setup can be a more cost effective route to getting way more screen area than a single 4K panel.2

 

Many gamers have made the leap and gone out to buy two HD monitors to flank the one they already have. Now even more gamers can enjoy the benefits from AMD Eyefinity Technology, and everyone can have access to the wider variety of display possibilities Eyefinity offers.

 

The new capability in Eyefinity we’re talking about is support for mixed resolutions, and the easiest way to explain it is with a picture:

 

1.jpg

In the photo above we have an ultra-wide 2560 x 1080 monitor with standard 1080p monitors on either side, giving an expansive, immersive 6.9 megapixels (6400 x 1080) of gaming for about $650 all-in (figuring $150 for an HD monitor and $350 for the wide screen one in the middle of this photo). That’s little more than the cost of one of the cheapest 4K screens. And the upgrade cost can be even lower for gamers who already have one monitor to start with.

 

Less elegant but equally functional arrangements like this 4480 x 1024 setup are possible using pretty much whatever monitors you have laying around.

 

2.jpg

1.png

As you can see, mixing monitors of different resolutions can work great! And mixing monitors of different sizes isn’t any different.

 

The diagram on the right shows what happens when you mix and match different sized monitors: you have a choice. You can shrink the game frame so that it fits within the screen area available, leaving a little extra unused screen hanging off the top or bottom.

 

Alternatively, you can expand the image from edge to edge in every direction, automatically creating ‘hidden’ areas of the picture. The picture’s never stretched or squeezed; it just looks right, thanks to this flexibility. That’s entirely new in the world of mutli-screen PC gaming.

 

This opens up a whole world of new possibilities to gamers, and probably a new lease on life for many a dusty, discarded screen.

 

All AMD Radeon™ R7 Series and R9 Series graphics cards support mixed resolutions. To try it out, you first need to download the latest AMD Catalyst™ Driver. Making it work is a simple one-click setup, so give it a try.

 

If you’ve got an unusual Eyefinity setup, get in touch with us on our Facebook page or @AMDRadeon. We want to see pics of the craziest setups, and we’ll share the best ones!

 

But wait, there’s more!

 

Mixed resolution with AMD Eyefinity Technology isn’t the only thing that’s new in display tech. Also making news is the recent announcement by VESA that Adaptive-Sync will be part of the DisplayPort 1.2a industry standard specification. Close followers know what that means for FreeSync technology developed by AMD.

 

Read the blog on FreeSync here.

 

 


Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

  1. AMD Eyefinity technology supports multiple monitors on an enabled graphics card. Supported display quantity, type and resolution vary by model and board design; confirm specifications with manufacturer before purchase. To enable more than three displays, or multiple displays from a single output, additional hardware such as DisplayPort™-ready monitors or DisplayPort 1.2 MST-enabled hubs may be required.  A maximum of two active adapters is recommended for consumer systems. See www.amd.com/eyefinityfaq for full details.
  2. The starting price for a 4K monitor is currently USD $600. Source: http://lifehacker.com/samsungs-crazy-cheap-4k-monitor-is-even-cheaper-than-us-1576830629
jlebo

4K gaming

Posted by jlebo May 30, 2014

We recently published a blog about AMD Eyefinity Technology, which gives gamers the ability to combine multiple monitors to expand their gaming area. One of the areas we touched on was the economic argument in favor of a multiple-monitor setup over 4K1.

 

But economics aren’t the only potential consideration, and 4K monitors are getting more affordable all the time. It’s a subjective thing, but one thing’s for sure: for some gamers, only the ultra-sharp, crisp-as-a-winter-morning, eye-dazzling luminosity of 4K will do.

 

We can’t really blame them, but if you haven’t seen 4K for yourself there’s a decent chance you don’t get the fascination. That’s going to change in 3.. 2.. 1..

 

3.jpg4.jpg

The screen captures of Tomb Raider above show 1080p first then 4K below2.  The insets are actual size. The hardware, system settings and game detail settings have not changed. Notice the extra sharpness and detail, as well as improved aliasing in the 4K picture. Lines are crisper, textures are sharper and jaggies are reduced. This is the kind of image quality 4K helps make possible. It’s unquestionably a major breakthrough in the quest toward photo-realistic PC games.

 

And take a look at these shots below, showing a scene in Thief™ loaded with fine detail (the first image is 1080p, the second is 4K).

 

5.jpg7.jpg

The extra sharpness afforded by the higher pixel density of 4K is especially obvious in the detailed rug on the floor. And check out the sharpness of the items in the foreground of these Battlefield™ 4 screenshots when played in 4K (the first image is 1080p, the second is 4K):

8.jpg9.jpg

 

When you see images like these, it starts to become clear why some gamers are so eager to shell out the required premium for a 4K panel.

 

We couldn’t be happier for them. They’re the reason we created the AMD Radeon™ R9 290 Series  graphics cards, each one of which has at least 4GB of memory for an exceptional 4K experience .

 

It may still be early days for 4K, but its time is definitely coming. Now, quite literally, you can see why.

 

 


Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

FOOTNOTES:

 

  1. Requires 4K display and content. Supported resolution varies by GPU model and board design; confirm specifications with manufacturer before purchase.
  2. All of the screenshots in this blog were taken with the same system, which included an i7-4960X CPU, an AMD Radeon™ R9 290X graphics card, ultra high detail settings.
rhallock

What is Project FreeSync?

Posted by rhallock May 29, 2014

accompanying-photo.jpg

Take a look at this photo. See that horizontal break halfway down?1 That break is called a “screen tear.” You’d never tolerate it in your still photographs, but screen tears are a constant torment for PC gamers. They come and go in a flash, but that’s enough to annoy.

 

Vertical synchronization, or v-sync, is the traditional solution to screen tearing, but it introduces its own problems. Project FreeSync helps solve tearing without those problems or the use of proprietary technology. Project FreeSync what gamers have been waiting for, but its benefits go beyond gaming.

 

MEET PROJECT FREESYNC

Computer monitors are refreshed at a constant rate, usually 60 times per second. On the other hand, game framerates are sporadic: the computer draws frames as fast as it can, and that varies constantly. Meanwhile, normal video content plays back at a steady rate, usually 23.976 frames per second.

As you can see, your content and your monitor are never in complete sync. That’s what causes the screen to "tear:" the monitor is being fed a new frame before it’s finished drawing the last one. For a variety of reasons, games are the worst offender.

 

Traditionally, we solve the gaming problem with vertical synchronization, or v-sync. When v-sync is on, the computer lets the monitor set the pace. The PC delivers frames only at intervals that fit the monitor’s refresh rate exactly; the content and monitor are now synced and the tears are gone.

But there’s a catch: when the game action picks up and your PC's framerate dips, the monitor may not receive a new frame from the GPU in time for its next refresh, so the monitor displays the current frame a second time. Where you might have had a tear in the picture with a higher framerate, now you have stuttering or lag. It's a short lag, but it's obvious and intolerable to many gamers. There are even ways to alleviate the stuttering with v-sync, but these methods introduce "input lag," or a delay between the time the player moves the mouse and the movement appears on-screen. These scenarios demonstrate a traditional wisdom that every attempt to fix the basic problem of "tearing" introduces problems of its own.

 

But there is a solution that upends traditional wisdom: allow the monitor's refresh rate to vary (e.g. 9-60 times per second), and let that refresh rate be controlled by and synchronized to the graphics card. That very ability was proposed by AMD to VESA, the standards body that oversees the DisplayPort specification. Our proposal was accepted and integrated into the DisplayPort 1.2a specification as a feature going by the name of "DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync."


Thanks to AMD's help, monitors that support the DisplayPort Adaptive-Sync specificationand there will be a lot of themwill feature dynamic refresh rates. To actually utilize the features of such a monitor, however, you need a graphics card and a graphics driver that can leverage the Adaptive-Sync feature to manage how the content and monitor are synchronized.

Project FreeSync is AMD's name for the complete solution: a compatible AMD Radeon™ graphics card, an enabled AMD Catalyst™ graphics driver, and an Adaptive-Sync-aware display. Together, these three pieces will abolish tearing, eliminate stuttering, and greatly reduce input latency.

 


Jay Lebo is a Product Marketing Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

FOOTNOTES:

1. This image is a simulation.

Mantle has consistently proven itself in a number of games and engines, to the extent that low-overhead APIs were one of the hottest topics at the 2014 Game Developer Conference. Microsoft announced DirectX® 12, a “console-like” iteration of their famous API that promises to streamline development and address programming overhead. Others talked low-overhead OpenGL™, and the practices that might need to be adopted to get there.

 

It’s important to highlight that AMD was an essential voice in both of these discussions, and the chronology plainly demonstrates that Mantle has been highly influential to both the theme and the existence of these discussions. Naturally, we are 100% behind any decision that provides the benefits of low-overhead game development accessible to more gamers and developers.

 

As DirectX® 12 games sits about 20 months away by Microsoft’s estimation (“holiday 2015”), there exists a long  period of time from today where game developers must prepare their studios for a future when all major graphics APIs seek to extract the same sort of benefits that Mantle has pioneered. As the industry’s only proven low-overhead API for PC graphics, Mantle stands ready and waiting to address that gap.

 

Beyond that point, we expect DirectX® 12 to be every bit the robust and powerful solution Microsoft has promised it will be. We know that because we, too, are a member of the consortium Microsoft assembled to help shape this and every other version of their API since the 1990s.

 

When DirectX® 12 lands in late 2015, millions of AMD Radeon™ products based on the GCN Architecture will be compatible on day one. Thanks to Mantle and our presence in the console space, AMD will also stand alone with a graphics architecture that has received years of attention from developers working with low-overhead graphics APIs.

 

Above all, Mantle will present developers with a powerful shortcut to DirectX® 12, as the lingual similarities between APIs will make it easy to port a Mantle-based render backend to a DirectX® 12-based one if needed or desired. In addition, Mantle developers that made the bold decision to support our historic API will be well-educated on the design principles DirectX® 12 also promises to leverage. Finally, we will ensure that tomorrow’s game engines have an easy time of supporting a Mantle render backend, just as talented devs are comfortable with supporting multiple backends today to better address the needs of gamers.

 

port_times.PNG.png

 

IN CONCLUSION

Over the last seven months, we have been quite transparent about the origins of Mantle rooted in requests from developers, the problems we hope to solve with Mantle, and the effect it has had on this incredible industry. In our communications, even within this very blog, we’ve also been open and honest about the nature of our data and the areas we’re still actively addressing to make Mantle an even better solution for problems in game development. And today, we’ve shared with you our vision for the future of graphics, along with Mantle’s place in that future.

 

We heartily welcome discussion and analysis of the nature of Mantle in ways that comprehensively and accurately consider both CPU-bound and GPU-bound scenarios. We also invite inquisitive and philosophical investigation into why Mantle’s adoption has been so rapid, why Mantle is gaining traction amongst the largest and most experienced development studios, and how Mantle has shaped the direction of the graphics industry as a whole.

 

Whatever the future ultimately holds, we at AMD are simply proud the industry is joining us in making faster hardware through smarter software. That was our prime philosophy since the day game developers came to us—as they did each hardware vendor—asking us for a better way. We’re glad others respect that philosophy, too, and we can’t wait to put our GPUs to work in support of that mission wherever it may go.


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Desktop Graphics at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

rhallock

The performance of Mantle

Posted by rhallock May 28, 2014

Mantle is an API made in service to the game development industry, optimized to handle the performance challenges most often encountered by developers. A key challenge for these developers is engine performance that has been constrained by poor multi-core scaling or processing overhead, particularly in scenes with a large number of objects.

 

The performance benefits of Mantle are very important to industry titans like DICE and Crytek. Figures 1 and 2 reflect the efficiency gains that have captured their attention.


mantle_in_thief.png

FIGURE 1: The performance of the Mantle graphics API is extracting untapped performance from existing hardware by removing bottlenecks in CPU-bound scenarios.

 

Figure 1 shows the built-in benchmark mode for Thief, which is designed to deliberately pressure systems with a high number of draw calls including characters, weather, carts, stalls, reflections, complex shadowing and many more objects.

 

Behind the scenes, each object represents a “draw call,” or a moment in time when the CPU and GPU must communicate to put something on the screen for your enjoyment. Historically, the quantity of draw calls—the image quality and detail provided to you—has reached a software limit before the hardware limit. The money you are investing in powerful hardware has been hamstrung by software inefficiencies!

 

Mantle is specifically designed to address this case by significantly raising the draw call limit by up to 900%.1 While increasing the draw call limit does not necessarily yield an equivalent jump in FPS, the data in figure 1 certainly demonstrates big performance gains can be achieved when you allow for better parallelization.

 

HARDCORE GAMERS: A LOOK AT MANTLE & MULTI-GPU

Moving on to multi-GPU platforms, we enter into an area where hardware has been even more constrained by software, as limited multithreading capabilities must now be stretched thin across two graphics cards hungry to get data and do work—even at 1600p!

 

Visiting the “Angry Sea” mission in Battlefield 4™ with this configuration demonstrates a large performance delta between DirectX® 11 and Mantle, even when one of those graphics cards is using a driver allegedly tuned to improve performance by reducing driver overhead in DirectX® 11.


mantle_mgpu.png

FIGURE 2: The data reveals that Mantle better equips a processor to feed a hungry dual-GPU configuration than DirectX® 11.

 

We would be remiss if we didn’t put a fine point on this and remind you that this performance disparity represents a squandering of the money you invested in your hardware. Mantle isn’t just a way to increase detail or performance--it’s a return on your investment as a gamer.


ON THE TOPIC OF ROI

Another interesting trend arises from the data, in that the low-overhead benefits of Mantle are evidently unlocking the true performance of processors across the board, allowing contenders at very different prices to churn out approximately equal performance regardless of their retail cost. The importance of this trend, when extrapolated to an industry now focused on low-overhead APIs, cannot be understated.

 

mantle_cpu_prices.png
FIGURE 3: The AMD FX-8350 is $850.99 less expensive than the Intel Core-i7 4960X, but it’s faster in Thief, a game equipped with the Mantle graphics API.2

 

Consider the implications of a new landscape where the budgetary choices you make for your PC have been democratized by software that totally deemphasizes the importance of your processor decision (and, by extension, the corresponding motherboard).

 

What would that do to the cost of your system when low-overhead APIs like Mantle become the norm? Would you purchase a less costly CPU and a more powerful graphics card instead? Would you simply reduce the cost of your system, perhaps by several hundred dollars? Little has been discussed on this topic, but we invite you to consider it in greater detail in your communities and articles.

 


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Desktop Graphics at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.


FOOTNOTES:

  1. Testing performed at AMD Labs by isolating API CPU performance.  “Draw” defined as the minimum unique entity that can be rendered by an API draw command and a typical unique state associated with it.  Mantle performed an average draw of 0.36 microseconds over two CPU threads.  DirectX 11 performed an average draw of 3.89 microseconds over a single API thread and a single driver thread.  Mantle results discounted by 20% for conservatism (i.e. 3.89/0.36/1.2 = 9.00).    Test configuration:    Intel Core 2 CPU X9650 at 3GHz, 4 GB of PC2-6400 RAM, AMD Radeon HD 7970 video card with 3 GB VRAM. [MAN-36]
  2. Pricing data obtained from Newegg.com on 05 May, 2014. Intel Core i7-4960X ($1049.99). AMD FX-8350 ($199.99).

We’ve said much about Mantle’s goals and merits of late, but now it’s time to listen directly to the brilliant people who are actually in the business of making games.

 

Dan Baker, a partner at Oxide Games and the former graphics lead for Sid Meier’s Civilization® V, knows a thing or two about driver overhead and graphics APIs. In an interview conducted by MaximumPC regarding their Mantle-enabled “Nitrous” engine, he explained that Mantle is a cure for an industry that is in need of greater parallelization.

 

[…]APIs are still designed in this functional threading model where you have a series of processes that pass work back and forth to each other. The idea is that you have say, one thread for rendering, one thread for audio, one thread for gameplay, etc. This is really not a scalable way to build things,” Baker said.

 

“In situations where you have a shared L3 cache, you also create contention from all the different processes running, since they all access completely different memory. The industry continues to move to a job-based setup, where we have lots of tiny jobs that run asynchronously. This can now scale to a large number of CPUs, and we can fill up most of the previously unused time where one of the processors isn't doing something.”


On the topic of driver overhead, Baker’s insights were also particularly enlightening, noting that his team has been “completely limited in what [they] could do by driver overhead problems.” With Mantle, however, his team rapidly discovered that Mantle is such an elegant solution that it “dwarfs” the Direct3D 11 performance they could achieve in their engine with any hardware vendor.

 

The team at Firaxis, authors of the upcoming Civilization: Beyond Earth, unequivocally voiced the same opinion in a recent blog on Mantle: “Simply put, Mantle is the most advanced and powerful graphics API in existence.  It provides essentially the same feature set as DX11 or OpenGL, and does so at considerably lower runtime cost.”


For game developers, who live and breathe time-to-market pressures on their titles, Mantle has an added benefit. Mantle is their only opportunity to spend less time “tricking the system” to overcome software limitations, and more time getting on with the business of designing cool stuff for gamers. Our development partners have praised Mantle for reducing developmental complexity, which cannot always be said for API extensions or laborious code optimization efforts.

 

A notable proponent of this philosophy is Chris Roberts, CEO of Cloud Imperium Games and the brains behind Kickstarter sensation “Star Citizen.” In announcing support for Mantle, he noted that the API was key for achieving his vision without fighting the software to get there.

 

"AMD's Mantle will allow us to extract more performance from an AMD Radeon GPU than any other graphics API," Roberts said. "Mantle is vitally important for a game like Star Citizen, which is being designed with the need for massive GPU horsepower. With Mantle, our team can spend more time achieving our perfect artistic vision, and less time worrying about whether or not today’s gaming hardware will be ready to deliver it."


Firaxis also had something to say on this topic, noting that Mantle’s thinner abstraction layer empowers them to make better-informed game development decisions.

 

“The Mantle API is able to be backed by a very small, simple driver, which is thus considerably faster,” Firaxis said in their blog.  “It also means that this work, which must still be done, is done by someone with considerably more information.  Because the engine knows exactly what it will do and how it will do it, it is able to make design decisions that drivers could not.”


Dan Baker has a related philosophy, noting in his opening remarks (figure 1) at GDC14 that Mantle addresses fundamental development challenges that cannot addressed by a retrofit of an existing API.

 

mantle_retrofit.png

FIGURE 1: Dan Baker of Oxide Games said it plainly when he presented this slide at the 2014 Game Developer Conference: you can’t retrofit old APIs.


Baker continued this line of thinking in a recent blog, saying: “[…] many of the most experienced developers, Oxide included, had for years advocated a lighter, simpler API that did the absolute minimum that it could get away with. We believed we needed a teardown of the entire API rather than some modifications of current APIs.”

 

Johan Andersson, technical director of the Frostbite engine at DICE, has also praised Mantle for making development easier. That was the central theme of his keynote presentation at the APU13 developer conference late last year, which opened with exactly that sentiment (figure 2).

 

mantle_johan.png

FIGURE 2: An opening slide from Johan Andersson's keynote presentation at the AMD APU13 developer conference.


In review, it is evident that Mantle is addressing a clear need within the industry to reimagine or reinvent the graphics API, and to flush out tired problems that have long stifled game development. Together, AMD and top game developers are collaborating not only to undertake that effort, but to share the results widely throughout the gaming industry so that gamers of every stripe might ultimately benefit.

 

 


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Desktop Graphics at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

rhallock

Mantle 101

Posted by rhallock May 28, 2014

In the six months since Mantle’s January launch, it has quickly grown to be incredibly successful: seven game developers have pledged support, four game engines have adopted and 20+ games will be Mantle-based. Within those figures, Crytek and AMD recently announced Mantle support in Cryengine, and AMD joined forces with 2K Games to bring Mantle support to Sid Meier’s Civilization®: Beyond Earth™. In addition, this month marked the start of the private beta program for the Mantle SDK, which boasts another 40 developers committed to exploring the benefits of our revolutionary API.

 

With all this momentum for Mantle, we thought it would be a good time to look forwards, backwards and sideways at Mantle to give a comprehensive view of  how and why it has achieved overwhelming industry praise. Let’s start, however, by looking at how Mantle reclaims lost performance for gamers.

 

With a basic implementation, Mantle was designed to improve performance in scenarios where the CPU is the limiting factor (so-called “CPU-bound” cases). CPU-bound scenarios are commonplace in gaming, as existing APIs are laden with heavy validation overhead, and have difficulty scaling out to multiple CPU cores. By addressing these problems, games developed with Mantle improve the experience for the majority of global PC gamers that have entry-level and mid-range processors.

 

Mantle achieves this through:

  • Low-overhead validation and processing of API commands
  • Explicit command buffer control
  • Close to linear performance scaling from reordering command buffers onto multiple CPU cores
  • Reduced runtime shader compilation overhead

 

Mantle is also designed to improve situations where high resolutions and “maximum detail” settings are used, although to a somewhat lesser degree, as thess settings tax GPU resources in a way that is more difficult to improve at the API level (so-called “GPU-bound” scenarios). While Mantle provides some built-in features to improve GPU-bound performance, gains in these cases are largely dependent on how well Mantle features and optimizations are being utilized by the developer. Some of those features include:

 

  • Reduction of command buffers submissions
  • Explicit control of resource compression, expands and synchronizations
  • Asynchronous DMA queue for data uploads independent from the graphics engine
  • Asynchronous compute queue for overlapping of compute and graphics workloads
  • Data formats optimizations via flexible buffer/image access
  • Advanced Anti-Aliasing features for MSAA/EQAA optimizations

 

For even more detail, we recently published our first whitepaper on Mantle. This 11-page brief contains essential technical information on the form and function of the Mantle graphics API. In addition, you might also read these recent blogs by Oxide Games and developer Josh Barczak, which detail some specific and significant ways Mantle is improving their development experience.

 

Altogether, these mechanisms have proven unquestionably attractive for a legion of game developers, to the extent that the first-year adoption rate for the Mantle API is projected to exceed the adoption rate of DirectX® 11 (see fig. 1 below).

 

api_adoption.PNG.png

FIGURE 1 - Industry interest in a picture: the number of games in development with Mantle support through Q1 2015.

 

We’re thrilled to see so many industry luminaries in active development with Mantle in its beta phase, as these studios have a vested interest in making the ideal, high-performance API for PC graphics. Throughout this process, we are discovering new opportunities to reduce inefficiency, and we’re evolving how we make better use of the technologies we have on-hand today.

 

As the famous lyrics go: “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

 


Robert Hallock does Technical Communications for Desktop Graphics at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

 

FOOTNOTES:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_games_with_DirectX_10_support
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_games_with_DirectX_10_support
  3. AMD internal estimates

Filter Blog

By date:
By tag: