Pre-2010, the antics of NVIDIA and AMD (or ATI back then) was one of PC gaming's biggest topics, but in recent years the "rivalry", as it were, largely went off the boil. And then AMD released Mantle, a lean 3D graphics API and competitor to Direct3D and OpenGL and suddenly, it was on again. Now the two companies exchange barbs on a regular basis, with NVIDIA providing the latest salvo.
Maximum PC managed to get NVIDIA engineers Tom Petersen and Rev Lebaradian into a room for almost two hours to quiz them on a range of topics, including their opinion on Mantle.
One of the first issues tackled is the supposed contractual obligations of developers who use NVIDIA's GameWorks that stops them from tuning their titles for AMD hardware.
Lebaradian is very clear on the matter:
That's just false ... it wouldn't be a reasonable action for a game developer to do, right? There's nothing about the contract that NVIDIA does that prevents a developer from optimising for anybody. Nobody would agree to that kind of stuff.
He also clears up confusion surrounding what Mantle provides — or specifically, what it doesn't:
I think there's a fundamental difference here. With Mantle, it's not really doing anything that you couldn't do before. Maybe you'll get some more performance in certain segments, but fundamentally it's not actually adding any new features to a game.
DSO Gaming's John Papadopoulos pulled out a few quotes from the interview, including what involvement NVIDIA has, or will have, with Mantle:
We don't know much about Mantle, we are not part of Mantle. And clearly if they see value there they should go for it. And if they can convince game developers to go for it, go for it. It's not an NVIDIA thing. The key thing is to develop great technologies that deliver benefits to gamers. Now in the case of Mantle it's not so clear to me that there is a lot of obvious benefits there.
There's a bit of marketing spin in there, as you'd expect, and I find it interesting NVIDIA hasn't done at least some research on what is arguably its competitor's most significant software endeavour ever. The pair defends this position by declaring that the refresh of the Direct3D API in DirectX 12 will offer "essentially" the same performance gains:
It's possible to pull performance out of DirectX, we're approving that, and so you can argue that maybe it's not a good idea to put extra effort into yet another API that does the same thing essentially. Feature wise there is nothing more ... DX12 is coming and a lot of the features, the benefits of having a lower level API (the extra calls and stuff), it’s going to be in DX12.
If you'd like to watch the chat in full, put aside an hour and 40 minutes and hit the video below.