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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  • DanNeely - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    Was the actual work done and paid for by Dice, etc; or did AMD send developer support people out to do the heavy lifting so that they'd have a big victory to point at when it launched?
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

  • chizow - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    A bit of both, AMD said they spent 2 years developing Mantle and sent engineering resources on-site to help implement it (Nvidia does this too with PhysX and GameWorks). AMD went into unprecedented territory however, when it reportedly paid EA/DICE $5-8 million for exclusive BF4 rights and Mantle support/implementation. It should be no surprise Johan Andersson (formely DICE, now just Frostbite Team) has been a very vocal supporter of Mantle with him and his team providing direct development resources to support Mantle. He said it took about 2 months of man hours as of November, but that was before the 2 months of delays before launch and overtime after Mantle launched to simply fix the errors/bugs introduced by Mantle.

    I'm sure they envisioned it as a great differentiating factor for EA and DICE for all the EA games reportedly using their FB3 engine, but now it is looking more and more like a deal EA/DICE wish they could get out of.
  • inighthawki - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    OpenGL does not have "low level support." The closest it comes is the bindless resource extension from NVidia. Otherwise compared to say, Mantle, OpenGL is high level.
  • chizow - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    AMD clarified Mantle recently too btw, it's not really low level either, it's just translated HLSL with lower level abstractions/extensions for specific hardware. Same thing can be done with the existing HLSL (DX and OpenGL) with more extensions and less abstraction for target hardware. OpenGL has already gone this route, as has MS with their DX11.x implementation for XB1. Expect more of this on the PC soon from what it sounds like. Just a matter of when, and if it is going to require a new DX designation or just DX11.x
  • przemo_li - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Try composing command queues, and executing them on specific execution units on the GPU with OpenGL.
  • chizow - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Already exists in DX, would just be up to the OpenGL ARB to implement additional lower level extensions for vendor specific hardware, same as anything else. Nvidia has already implemented numerous OpenGL extensions ahead of DX, like bindless textures for their own hardware, so if this is where the industry is going there's going to be more responsibility placed on the IHVs to support their hardware.
  • chizow - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Oh, forgot, another good example of Nvidia implementing features in OpenGL ahead of DirectX would be tiled resources with their work using CUDA to decompress and address Rage's megatextures. Tiled Resources was just implemented in DX with DX 11.2.
  • SleepyFE - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    Now that i got that out of the way: It was worth it. Even if Mantle was just a kick in the gluteus maximus for everyone to wake up.
  • saneblane - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    It's amazing how people are bashing Mantle but they assume that DX and GL are going to be different. News flash Numbnuts, these low level features you all are talking about are not going to be supported on your cards now, you're going to have to get New Cards to support them fully. These API are new, they have the name DX and GL but they are essentially new API and will have to break compatibility with cards today. You're cards are not going to "just" work Lmao.

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