The dance between hardware and software vendors has always been complex, but it seems like things have gone to another level at GDC this week. The number of graphics APIs and platforms is growing, and everybody is lining up to indicate what they'll support.
Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 4 have already been introduced, along with OpenGL ES 3.1. Cyril caught CryEngine running on Linux, and the CryEngine-based Warface is getting GameWorked. All of that, and Microsoft big DirectX 12 reveal isn't over yet.
Meanwhile, the GPU makers and software houses have announced a number of other alliances. The folks at CryTek revealed in a session yesterday that CryEngine will be adding support for the Mantle API, giving CryEngine-based games low-level access to Radeon GPUs based on the GCN architecture. Here's Cevat Yerli delivering the news:
"Crytek prides itself on enabling CRYENGINE with the latest and most impressive rendering capabilities," said Cevat Yerli, Founder, CEO & President of Crytek. "By integrating AMD’s new Mantle API, CRYENGINE will gain a dimension of 'lower level' hardware access that enables extraordinary efficiency, performance and hardware control."
Adding CryEngine is a major win for AMD, since it's behind some of the best-looking real-time visual effects around.
Beyond that, AMD let it be known that three more games are entering its Gaming Evolved program. Sniper Elite III will use the Mantle API. Square Enix's Murdered: Soul Suspect will add unspecified DX11 effects, and Xaviant's Lichdom will make use of AMD's TressFX hair simulation tech and TrueAudio sound processing acceleration.
Not to be outdone, Nvidia changed its Facebook status to "in a relationship" with Epic. The GameWorks libraries that provide special effects for all GPUs and extra-special effects for GeForces will be supported in Unreal Engine 4. Tim Sweeney has a few choice words for that Cevat Yerli guy:
"Epic developed Unreal Engine 4 on NVIDIA hardware, and it looks and runs best on GeForce," says Tim Sweeney, founder, CEO and technical director of Epic Games.
So there. The Nvidia-Epic relationship also extends to the Tegra K1 mobile SoC, which has been demoed running UE4-based games and apps.
Nvidia further revealed that it will be working with the folks at Respawn Entertainment to add some bling to Titanfall for the PC. The two firms will be reaching into the GameWorks library and giving Titanfall an education in how to do TXAA—Nvidia's quasi-temporal anti-aliasing that closely resembles AMD's now-discarded narrow-tent CFAA—and an amped-up ambient occlusion effect called HBAO+. TXAA and HBAO+ usually refuse to run on non-GeForce graphics hardware. Respawn will also patch the game to better support 4K display resolutions and Nvidia's SLI multi-GPU tech.
I'm sure there's more where that came from, but most of the rest of the news from GDC probably hinges on today's DX12 announcements. Cyril's on the scene, so we should have a report from him soon.