1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking.org

AMD's Mantle Graphics API For Linux?

AMD

Published on 27 September 2013 09:05 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in AMD
51 Comments

This week at AMD's Hawaii event where they announced their new high-end graphics processors, they also announced Mantle. AMD's Mantle is a new graphics API that looks to take on OpenGL and Microsoft's Direct3D as a new high-performance graphics rendering API.

Since the announcement earlier this week, many Phoronix readers have been asking about Mantle on Linux and discussing the AMD graphics API within the forums. Now that I'm back into the office as of yesterday evening and have had some time to look further into Mantle and followed up with some of my contacts, I have a better feeling for the API.

For enthusiasts that did any level of reading into Mantle, you should know it won't be an OpenGL-killer anytime soon. Initially the AMD Mantle API has just been implemented in the Catalyst Windows driver, but other platforms are planned to be supported. In theory it shouldn't be too much work for Mantle to come to the Catalyst Linux graphics driver given it's a largely shared code-base already right now with the Windows Catalyst driver, but will likely take Linux developer interest for AMD to ship it in their Linux blob.

NVIDIA and Intel also haven't committed to supporting this graphics rendering API. Beyond that, AMD is just supporting Mantle on their "GCN" hardware, which is the Radeon HD 7000 series and newer.

Mantle is still very young, but it will take a long while until it could possibly be widely supported. Within the open-source Linux graphics drivers, it's likely to take what would seem like an eternity given that Mesa developers are still working to support OpenGL 3.2/3.3 compared to OpenGL 4.4 upstream, unless AMD were to do some fabulous code drop.

On the application side, the Mantle launch title is Battlefield 4. AMD has said to have developed Mandle in conjunction with top game developers and their lightweight driver that allows direct access to GPU hardware.

As far as why AMD is pushing this new low-level graphics API, they claim that it offers nine times more draw calls per second than other APIs thanks to reduced CPU overhead, higher graphics performance with direct access to GPU functionality, presents new rendering techniques, and leverages optimization work spanning from next-gen game consoles to PCs. Mantle is also compatible with Microsoft HLSL -- the shading language for Direct3D -- but there's no mention of GLSL compatibility for Linux fans.

If the performance gains are really worthwhile, it's possible we could see Mantle used by some game engines as a complementary renderer to Direct3D/OpenGL, but given the limited support presence of the graphics API, it's unlikely to see any Mantle-only titles in the foreseeable future. What's perhaps more likely to see are some of the design advantages and rendering features of Mantle incorporated back into future revisions of the Khronos OpenGL specification.

We'll see in the coming months how the Mantle support and feature-set evolves and whether AMD is able to make any Linux play out of the situation.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
Latest Linux Hardware Reviews
  1. A Walkthrough Of The New 32 System Open-Source Linux Benchmarking Test Farm
  2. Habey MITX-6771: Mini-ITX Board With Quad-Core J1900 Bay Trail
  3. OCZ Vector 150 SSD On Linux
  4. Noctua i4 CPU Cooler: Great For Cooling High-End LGA-2011v3 CPUs
Latest Linux Articles
  1. AMD Kaveri: Open-Source Radeon Gallium3D vs. Catalyst 14.12 Omega Driver
  2. 12-Way AMD Catalyst 14.12 vs. NVIDIA 346 Series Linux GPU Comparison
  3. AMD Catalyst 14.12 Omega Driver Brings Mixed Results For Linux Users
  4. 6-Way Winter 2014 Linux Distribution Comparison
Latest Linux News
  1. FSF's High Priority Project List Now Has A Committee
  2. Details On Using OpenACC & GPUs With GCC
  3. Ubuntu 15.04 Alpha 1 For Its Various Flavors
  4. Git 2.2.1 Released To Fix Critical Security Issue
  5. WTFTW: A Tiling Window Manager Written In Rust
  6. Jolla's Sailfish OS Update 10 Is Now Available
  7. HP To Launch Linux++ Operating System Next Year
  8. Civilization: Beyond Earth Launches For Linux
  9. NIR Has Been Revised As A New IR For Mesa
  10. New 64-bit Linux Kernel Vulnerabilities Disclosed This Week
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. Are there an app using HSA ?
  2. XLennart: A Game For Systemd Haters With Nothing Better To Do
  3. The New SuperTuxKart Looks Better, But Can Cause GPU/Driver Problems
  4. Debian init discussion in Phoenix Wright format
  5. Bench specific mount point
  6. Tool for measuring FPS in games
  7. Need some hand holding with upgrading xserver
  8. Ubuntu Developers Still Thinking What To Do About Adobe Flash Support