Last week DICE released an update to the Battlefield 4 game on the PC. This update supports the Mantle AMD Graphics Processor Unit API. A day later AMD released their AMD 14.1 beta v 1.6 driver which supports this API. There are known issues with this driver so be weary. All graphics processors based on the Graphics Core Next architecture are supported by Mantle. I’m not going to get into details about the architecture or which devices are supported, but if you would like that information just head over to the AMD site. I had a chance to quickly test the performance of the API and Game. This was a very brief test and there are no metrics associated with this, only my experience.
Either way my setup is as follows:
Eyefinity with 3 Dell IPS monitors @ 1920×1200, with 16:10 aspect ratio. Gigabyte Windforce OC HD7970 card. AMD Athlon II x6 1090T processor, with 16 GB or RAM, and everything stored on SSD drives.
Collectively in eyefinity the max resolution achievable on this hardware is 5760×1200. However I have been playing Battlefield 4 @ 5040×1050 resolution which relates to a 16:10 aspect ratio monitor with 1680×1050 resolution. Truth is the system could not handle the higher resolution and playing on low was not an option. That resolution was being played on high with a couple tweaks.
With mantle and the BF4 update, I was able to go from 5040×1050 resolution in BF4 to 5760×1200. That is pretty good, I thought I would have to wait another generation before I could max out my resolution on my monitors.
What does Mantle do? Mantle helps and assist the rendering process by optimizing it and sending batches from the processor to the GPU in parallel. DirectX is supposedly also capable of these parallel communications, but developers have not yet been able to achieve this with DirectX, and instead it sends the batches in serial. Basically with Mantle the information gets there faster, there is more of it, and it is optimized for the hardware as it is not a generic API meant for all hardware.
What does this mean? This means that if you have a slower multi-core processor and a mid range to high end video card you will see some performance increases. As it is in my case I was able to go from 5040×1050 resolution to 5760×1200, without any performance hits. Prior to mantle this was not possible on DirectX and the hardware.
What about high end PCs? Higher end machines, with really fast processors that are capable of fast single threaded processing will not see a big performance boost. Mantle is meant for the Mid range, the AMD sweet spot. There are also other hardware limitations to Mantle, lower end GPUs are not seeing a great performance boost either. Hardware is a factor here. The sweet spot seems to be mid range CPU with a mid range to high end GPU.
Mantle shows great promise for the future, especially for games that will be built from the ground up to support this technology. I’m also sure that there is some more performance that can be squeezed out of the hardware and API, it is still in it’s infancy.
Now if DICE could only fix the broken game.