GDC pro wrestling: Nvidia deliver smackdown to AMD over graphics APIs


The vast majority of our news coverage on AMD in the past six months has concerned the Mantle API: a nifty bit of tech which bypasses DirectX completely to improve performance in games like Battlefield 4.

The results have been undeniably impressive: but the Mantle integration developers like DICE have worked on with Nvidia isn’t for the greater good of graphics – but specifically for owners of AMD cards to enjoy.

That’s the opposite of Nvidia’s philosophy, which they outlined during DirectX 12’s reveal at GDC yesterday: they’d rather work within existing APIs than make their own thing.

Nvidia told GDC attendees that API efficiency was “important” for PC games, which have long been subject to additional performance costs from graphics driver overheads.

Engine manufacturers want more control over hardware, said Nvidia, and developers want “console-like” access to the machines they’re working with. And that’s something the company plans to provide without recourse to new DirectX alternatives.

“Supporting these goals should be done within the framework of existing graphics APIs,” they said.

That way, said Nvidia, the PC games industry retains the benefits of “hardware abstraction” and “cross-vendor support”.

For a demonstration of what cross-vendor support might look like, see Nvidia, AMD, and Intel’s public endorsement of OpenGL – the “vendor-neutral” Direct3D equivalent which they say can offer developers “seven-to-15-times” better performance in their games.

Would you prefer it if GPU-specific tech didn’t factor into your buying decisions? Or does the thought never cross your mind when upgrading a PC?