AMD’s Mantle API has spent the last two years methodically moving its tentacles about the exterior of Battlefield 4’s Frostbite engine, looking for an in. Today it’s finally gnawed through its scales - in this squidy metaphor, DirectX - finally breaking down the barrier between the game and your GPU.
The result? Performance gains of up to 45%, if you’ve the right sort of hardware.
For an expert breakdown of precisely how Mantle works, see our Rob’s chat with AMD’s Robert Hallcock. If you’re happy with bare-bones squid metaphors and the promise of increased performance, I’ve got you covered here.
The latest Battlefield 4 update on PC incorporates a new renderer in Frostbite, originally intended to be released before Christmas, which exploits the Mantle API. DICE and AMD have been working on it “very closely” together since 2012, and the finished tech has allowed the Battlefield dev team to bend modern GPUs to new ends.
Battlefield 4 is already “quite heavily” optimised under DirectX 11 or 11.1, as you’re no doubt running it now. But Mantle has meant dramatic reductions in CPU strain for rendering - which is where the performance win comes in.
“The biggest performance gains can be seen when the game is bottlenecked by the CPU which can be quite common even on high-end machines,” said Battlefield technical director Johan Andersson.
“We’ve also been able to streamline and optimize some of the GPU workload. The end result is that game performance is improved in virtually all scenarios in Battlefield 4 on both Windows 7 and Windows 8 when running with Mantle.”
DICE plan to improve on the renderer in future updates, tuning their tech to suit more and different PC configurations. Which is all very lovely. But here come the caveats.
Right now, AMD haven’t released the new Catalyst 14.1 beta drivers necessary take advantage of Mantle. They’ll arrive in the next few days, and be available from the company’s download centre. Then you'll want to find the new 'Graphics API' option in Battlefield 4's Graphics Options settings.
More restrictive is the hardware. You’ll need a card from AMD’s Graphics Core Next tech - something from their 7000 series, or one of the new Hawaii GPUs announced in September. Are any of you lot in a position to take advantage?