AMD will be talking more about the future of Mantle at GDC later this week, which is all for the best because their latest statement about the graphics API is quite vague.
Mantle is, of course, AMD’s alternative API (application program interface) to DirectX. It’s already been used alongside DirectX in games like Thief and Sniper Elite 3, at times offering improved frame-rates to those with AMD graphics cards based on the Graphics Core Next architecture. Future releases like Star Citizen had signed up to use it too.
Unfortunately, Mantle’s future isn’t sounding too hot. Particularly in this section of AMD’s latest statement: “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.”
Telling developers to switch to a different API is probably not something you do if you’re about to announce a brave, new future for your own project.
The general tone of much of the rest of the piece is focused on how AMD laid some groundwork for improved efficiency in other APIs (DirectX 12, OpenGL Next) through their push for Mantle. Again, it reads like a bit of an obituary.
However, there are also sentences like these ones: “Mantle’s definition of “open” must widen. It already has, in fact. This vital effort has replaced our intention to release a public Mantle SDK, and you will learn the facts on Thursday, March 5 at GDC 2015.” Believe in Mantle and … Mantle will believe in you? I don’t know.
We’ll find out for sure (hopefully) on Thursday, but my impression is that Mantle will live on through other projects like OpenGL Next. Indeed, an interview at TechReport from last year already confirmed that AMD were giving OpenGL Next’s Khronos Group “unfettered access to Mantle.”