I've learned from a friendly mole at Microsoft that they've silently gave the go ahead for AMD to release their low-level GPU access API Mantle for their Graphics Core Next (GCN) GPU architecture for PC. And not coincidentally, Mantle is very similar in form and function to the low-level API employed in Microsoft's upcoming Xbox One games console that uses AMD's GCN architecture, so that games developers can easily use most of their low-level code from the Xbone for AMD's GCN architecture on the PC side. Again with silent help from Microsoft, AMD is even working on a compiler that will simply port the low-level Xbone code to GCN on PC.
But, why is that bad you ask? Isn't low-level access to the metal something that PC games developers crave for years? Wouldn't that help PC gamers enjoy unparalleled performance on games compared to consoles? Is Microsoft good and wants to sing Kumbaya together with all gamers, be it on the Xbone or the PC?
One could think that Microsoft is so honest and naive that it thinks this could really pan out, but then if you think that, my fellow gamers, you are the naive.
How shall I put it? Microsoft currently deservedly enjoys the reputation from the press and gamers that they are the dark empire which wants to crush gamers' rights.
Well, the perfidious plan of the Microsoft head honchos is to let AMD do their thing and deploy Mantle for the launch of their new GPUs. So far so good. Here the evil starts... Microsoft knows that AMD is very desperate and continually taking a beating from Intel and NVIDIA on the CPU and GPU fronts. They can't do much about Intel on the CPU front, but they sure think that they can go against NVIDIA at the GPU front. AMD thinks Mantle is the knife, and they intend to ram it deep into NVIDIA's chest.
What a coincidence that AMD intends to reveal more about Mantle just before the new consoles launch at the 2013 AMD Developer Summit in November. Doesn't that reek of desperation? Judging by all the boasting of AMD firsts and bests at the AMD GPU '14 Tech Day in Hawaii where they showcased the upcoming Radeon R9 and R7 series of GPUs, self-esteem must currently be on a record low at the company.
Wouldn't it be for the arab oil money that was poured into AMD, cough... drained down into a bottomless pit and because Intel fears the US antitrust laws, I don't think the company would exist anymore in the fierce computer industry. One just has to look at the loses that the company took in the last years to see what an oddity such a company like AMD is.
Microsoft knows that NVIDIA is a clever company that has managed to adapt and survive countles battles in the harsh reality of the computing business environment with larger and arrogant companies like Intel and AMD. They know that NVIDIA will strike back fiercely at AMD and try to blow away their Mantle. I'm not so sure AMD, that live in their oil fueled lala land that apparently doesn't need profits to exist, knows that.
AMD wants to go against NVIDIA with a low-level GPU API, the same NVIDIA that fell and swallowed the goliath of low-level APIs back in the good ol' days of PC gaming, namely 3dfx with their legendary Glide API.
Nothing good can come of it for PC gaming. There will be chaos, there will be blood. And that's what the dark empire seeks. The return of the good old wild west days where PC gamers couldn't be sure if their shiny and expensive new GPU will even run the latest game in all its glory, if at all.
Now is the calm before the storm. Some might have noticed, NVIDIA is unusually quiet now when AMD announced Mantle and their new GPUs, though they usually have some product launch to steal AMD's thunder. Well, there are signs. Like Epic's Mark Rein tweeting that he saw the most amazing thing made by NVIDIA, and it's not a GPU, but gamers will love it. Could this be NVIDIA's low-level GPU API? Will they name it Glide?
The fragmentation of PC gaming, again. After Microsoft united PC gamers with DirectX, they now seek chaos. Microsoft has been on a crusade against PC gaming since they've launched their Xbox business. First passive-aggressively with the now axed Games for Windows - LIVE, then of course with the ever slowing development of DirectX that has currently come to a crawl, and we shouldn't forget the catastrophe that is Windows 8.
And now, could this help by Microsoft for AMD's Mantle be considered an active sabotage of the PC gaming landscape? The answer from Microsoft would surely be a passive-aggressive no.
How comes that Microsoft, a company with the market power and the legions of programmers and engineers, can't afford to build a standardized low-level API for GPUs that is part of DirectX and is interoperable with Direct3D? They are clearly able to do it for the Xbox, granted it's a bit trickier for PCs, but why couldn't such a colossus like Microsoft make it work in the PC space? Well, I answered those questions in the preceding text.
Could Valve be the saviour and unite PC gamers? They sure are applying a lot of pressure to Microsoft lately with various Steam related announcements, and as my mole at Microsoft tells me this has their head honchos worried. There is some paranoia there that by destroying PC gaming in favour of their Xbox business, Microsoft could play into Valve's cards and inadvertently slaughter their only cash cow, namely the Windows business.
No wonder that NVIDIA is lately so friendly to Linux and speaks highly of their partnership with Valve. AMD on the other side has refrained from mentioning anything related to SteamOS and distanced themselves from it.
There are certainly interesting times ahead with the possibility of tectonic shifts in the PC gaming landscape, and gaming in general.