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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  • Gloomy - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    But the people with Nvidia cards told me Mantle was unnecessary and pointless? Surely this is unnecessary also?
  • shadowofthesun - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    I'm pretty sure those people (who certainly are not restricted to Nvidia users) were complaining about the addition of yet another graphics API, and this article at least seems to indicate that those people were right and an entirely new API is not required.

    I'm pretty sure the people complaining about having low level access only exist in your imagination.
  • Kevin G - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    DirectX: Evolving Microsoft's Graphics Platform sounds like a session where they're going to re-engineer DirectX to become lower level. Note the last time MS did this (DX9 -> DX10) the driver model radically changed with the massive API change. The driver roll out with Vista was rocky to put it politely.

    I'd be a bit skeptical of the Direct3D Future session. Much was said about DX10 reducing overhead as Vista previews proclaimed. As things turned out, there never was a massive performance leap with DX10 (though image quality did improve).

    The OpenGL session is interesting as diving down to the metal is possible with various OpenGL extensions. The interesting development here would doing so through ARB extensions. I'm quite curious as to what comes out of this session.
  • Gigaplex - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    "As things turned out, there never was a massive performance leap with DX10 (though image quality did improve)."

    Quite the opposite. At least for the first couple of rounds of titles to switch to DX10, performance dropped and image quality didn't change much at all. I believe Crysis had a Very High graphics setting that only worked in DX10 mode, but there were config file hacks that let you run at Very High on DX9 with much higher framerates and it didn't look all that different.
  • FaaR - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    You're compairing apples and oranges. DX9, DX10 = graphics APIs, Crysis = computer game. You can't draw conclusions about the merits of a graphic API by looking at one single piece of software using that API.
  • chizow - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    Yep, exactly.
  • Frenetic Pony - Thursday, February 27, 2014 - link

    Mostly, Mantle was a kick in the ass for Krohnos and Miscrosoft. Finally get them up and do something like it, before Mantle becomes popular, an API controlled by not them.
  • xdrol - Friday, February 28, 2014 - link

    This. Even Mantle in its own is pointless, its value is freaking huge in pulling MS and Khronos out of their comfort zone to start working.
  • HisDivineOrder - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    People with nVidia cards told you Mantle was unnecessary and pointless because it was a third API that doesn't support any product except GCN-based ones. That means basically a smidgen of the APU market (Kaveri-based APU's from Jan or newer) or 7xxx series GPU's or later. Relatively speaking, that's a small percentage (GCN) of a small percentage (AMD) of a small market (PC gaming discrete GPU's).

    Meanwhile, the lion's share of desktop gaming is owned by Intel and nVidia right now. Neither vendor supports or even suggested they'll support Mantle.

    That's what has always made Mantle unnecessary. We would all have welcomed Mantle's improvements if AMD had bothered to implement them in OpenGL like nVidia did. Instead, they felt the need to throw out a new API in an effort to seize by force what they could not win by straight up competition with nVidia.

    They tried to rig the game in their favor by changing the playing field, but the problem is no one's going to show up on their field.

    Better for Intel and nVidia--once AMD went it alone with Mantle--to leave AMD hangin' in the wind, having to support three API's while nVidia and Intel buckle down and focus on only two.

    The improvements were great, especially for draw calls and CPU usage. The problem was the proprietary nature of Mantle. And it is proprietary as long as AMD keeps it locked down and NOT a standard, not brought forward as a standard, and not even having said they'd MAKE it a standard.

    They suggested they wouldn't be adverse to the idea, which is a far, far cry from actually saying they're making it an open standard.

    I suppose Mantle pisses other users off (including AMD users who don't have a GCN-based product like 6xxx series cards or earlier, Llano APU's, Trinity APU's, or Richland APU's) because it promises improvements that are entirely NOT reliant upon GCN, but ties those improvements directly to GCN regardless.

    I hoped DirectX and OpenGL would bring over the improvements that were relevant from Mantle without the baggage. It appears they are. That's great.
  • SleepyFE - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    How do you know that Mantle isn't a modified version of OpenGL. Maybe that's what the talk is about. They will finaly make it available. And Intel and Nvidia are jumping on board. Why else would AMD be there (Yes we have a better solution, but we decided to help our competitors beat it to the ground.)

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