With the annual Game Developer Conference taking place next month in San Francisco, the session catalogs for the conference are finally being published and it looks like we may be in for some interesting news on the API front. Word comes via the Tech Report and regular contributor SH SOTN that 3 different low level API sessions have popped up in the session catalog thus far. These sessions are covering both Direct3D and OpenGL, and feature the 4 major contributors for PC graphics APIs: Microsoft, AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel.

The session descriptions only offer a limited amount of information on their respective contents, so we don’t know whether anything here is a hard product announcement or whether it’s being presented for software research & development purposes, but at a minimum it would give us an idea into what both Microsoft and the OpenGL hardware members are looking into as far as API efficiency is concerned. The subject has become an item of significant interest over the past couple of years, first with AMD’s general clamoring for low level APIs, and more recently with the launch of their Mantle API. And with the console space now generally aligned with the PC space (x86 CPUs + D3D11 GPUs), now is apparently as good a time as any to put together a low level API that can reach into the PC space.

With GDC taking place next month we’ll know soon enough just what Microsoft and its hardware partners are planning. In the meantime let’s take a quick look at the 3 sessions.

DirectX: Evolving Microsoft's Graphics Platform

Presented by: Microsoft; Anuj Gosalia, Development Manager, Windows Graphics

For nearly 20 years, DirectX has been the platform used by game developers to create the fastest, most visually impressive games on the planet.

However, you asked us to do more. You asked us to bring you even closer to the metal and to do so on an unparalleled assortment of hardware. You also asked us for better tools so that you can squeeze every last drop of performance out of your PC, tablet, phone and console.

Come learn our plans to deliver.

Direct3D Futures

Presented by: Microsoft; Max McMullen, Development Lead, Windows Graphics

Come learn how future changes to Direct3D will enable next generation games to run faster than ever before!

In this session we will discuss future improvements in Direct3D that will allow developers an unprecedented level of hardware control and reduced CPU rendering overhead across a broad ecosystem of hardware.

If you use cutting-edge 3D graphics in your games, middleware, or engines and want to efficiently build rich and immersive visuals, you don't want to miss this talk.

Approaching Zero Driver Overhead in OpenGL

Presented By: NVIDIA; Cass Everitt, OpenGL Engineer, NVIDIA; Tim Foley, Advanced Rendering Technology Team Lead, Intel; John McDonald,  Senior Software Engineer, NVIDIA; Graham Sellers,  Senior Manager and Software Architect, AMD

Driver overhead has been a frustrating reality for game developers for the entire life of the PC game industry. On desktop systems, driver overhead can decrease frame rate, while on mobile devices driver overhead is more insidious--robbing both battery life and frame rate. In this unprecedented sponsored session, Graham Sellers (AMD), Tim Foley (Intel), Cass Everitt (NVIDIA) and John McDonald (NVIDIA) will present high-level concepts available in today's OpenGL implementations that radically reduce driver overhead--by up to 10x or more. The techniques presented will apply to all major vendors and are suitable for use across multiple platforms. Additionally, they will demonstrate practical demos of the techniques in action in an extensible, open source comparison framework.

Source: SH SOTN (via the Tech Report)

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  • przemo_li - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Where did You seen HLSL in OpenGL ? O.O

    No. Mantle is not OGL. OGL REQUIRE big bad ass GPU driver that handle all the traffic to the monolithic GPU. Mantle is about spliting that GPU into separate execution units, and trimming down that driver to be as thin as possible (game/app will have to do the job of GPU driver, but some already do it)
  • SleepyFE - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    I said modified!!
    They may not have started from scratch.
  • chizow - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    Spot on.
  • Sushisamurai - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Didn't they already cover this in a pipeline story? Nvidia and intel are able to access mantle (if not now then in future plans, don't recall exactly)... For an undisclosed fee. With the over guys hoping on the bandwagon, they'll compete directly with AMD's low level offerings and take a piece of that low level licence fee pie
  • chizow - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Don't think there was a pipeline story about it, just a lot of noncommittal back and forth depending on whom you asked, and when.

    AMD said Mantle was proprietary and would remain so for the foreseeable future, but maybe long-term someone could write low level API for their own hardware (lol ya think?)
    “The plan is, long term, once we have developed Mantle into a state where it’s stable and in a state where it can be shared openly [we will make it available]. The long term plan is to share and create the spec and SDK and make it widely available. Our thinking is: there’s nothing that says that someone else could develop their own version of Mantle and mirror what we’ve done in how to access the lower levels of their own silicon. I think what it does is it forges the way, the easiest way,” explained Mr. Corpus."

    And Johan Andersson in one of his many AMD-funded speaking engagements had a slide saying anyone could theoretically support Mantle (again, write their own low-level API for their own hardware), trying to back away from the whole proprietary stigma that AMD has criticized repeatedly over the years.

    It's just lip service so that AMD didn't sound hypocritical, and to help improve media/PR image of Mantle and it's chance for adoption. Looks like it doesn't really matter now though, if given a choice between supporting low-level DX extensions or supporting Mantle, it's really going to be a no-brainer for IHVs (Nvidia/Intel) and ISVs (game devs), especially when the XB1 code should be a near seamless port after MS brings the XB1 DX11.x enhancements they mention to the PC.
  • chizow - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    Mantle is pointless, and now Microsoft has just reaffirmed this reality. Another vendor-specific API on a platform with already 2 established APIs that support all vendors is clearly unnecessary and pointless. Mantle will end up a footnote in PC gaming history, nothing more. Maybe it had a hand in forcing Microsoft to act, maybe not, but in the end it will fall by the wayside.
  • przemo_li - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    4 months ago, MS asked DIRECTLY about future of DX could only talk about future of TOOLS surrounding DX.

    Progress is astounding if You ask me.
  • chizow - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Huh? No, they explicitly said they were planning to bring the low level, lightweight DX runtime from the XB1 to the PC:

    "We’re also working with our ISV and IHV partners on future efforts, including bringing the lightweight runtime and tooling capabilities of the Xbox One Direct3D implementation to Windows, and identifying the next generation of advanced 3D graphics technologies."
  • przemo_li - Friday, February 28, 2014 - link

    This is after mantle.

    I'm talking about a bit earlier period. When AMD (as usual) was making fuss about lack of innovation in DX (even OGL is super set of DX11.1 now). And MS had no comments.

    But if You read carefully that text, than again You will see how little change there is for API itself. MS would not even force Tiled Resources and other such stuff onto Nvidia/AMD/Intel and just left it as "may support" bits.

    DX (And OpenGL to some extend, though, Khronos have better way to announce what should be in the next gen hw), lack clear vision of what should land in next gen hw, which would be supported by all GPUs. DX12 instead of DX11.3...
    (And MS do have incentive to stick to the DX11 for a while now. XboxOne will not support DX12...)
  • encia - Thursday, March 6, 2014 - link

    You missed the word CONSOLE in the following Microsoft's statement

    "However, you asked us to do more. You asked us to bring you even closer to the metal and to do so on an unparalleled assortment of hardware. You also asked us for better tools so that you can squeeze every last drop of performance out of your PC, tablet, phone and CONSOLE."

    Microsoft's current game CONSOLE is Xbox One and it runs on AMD GCN based GPU.

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