Upcoming Oculus SDK 0.7 Integrates Direct Driver Mode from AMD and NVIDIA

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 7, 2015 - 10:46 AM |
Tagged: sdk, Oculus, nvidia, direct driver mode, amd

In an email sent out by Oculus this morning, the company has revealed some interesting details  about the upcoming release of the Oculus SDK 0.7 on August 20th. The most interesting change is the introduction of Direct Driver Mode, developed in tandem with both AMD and NVIDIA.

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This new version of the SDK will remove the simplistic "Extended Mode" that many users and developers implemented for a quick and dirty way of getting the Rift development kits up and running. However, that implementation had the downside of additional latency, something that Oculus is trying to eliminate completely.

Here is what Oculus wrote about the "Direct Driver Mode" in its email to developers:

Direct Driver Mode is the most robust and reliable solution for interfacing with the Rift to date. Rather than inserting VR functionality between the OS and the graphics driver, headset awareness is added directly to the driver. As a result, Direct Driver Mode avoids many of the latency challenges of Extended Mode and also significantly reduces the number of conflicts between the Oculus SDK and third party applications. Note that Direct Driver Mode requires new drivers from NVIDIA and AMD, particularly for Kepler (GTX 645 or better) and GCN (HD 7730 or better) architectures, respectively.

We have heard NVIDIA and AMD talk about the benefits of direct driver implementations for VR headsets for along time. NVIDIA calls its software implementation GameWorks VR and AMD calls its software support LiquidVR. Both aim to do the same thing - give more direct access to the headset hardware to the developer while offering new ways for faster and lower latency rendering to games.

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Both companies have unique features to offer as well, including NVIDIA and it's multi-res shading technology. Check out our interview with NVIDIA on the topic below:

NVIDIA's Tom Petersen came to our offices to talk about GameWorks VR

Other notes in the email include a tentative scheduled release of November for the 1.0 version of the Oculus SDK. But until that version releases, Oculus is only guaranteeing that each new runtime will support the previous version of the SDK. So, when SDK 0.8 is released, you can only guarantee support for it and 0.7. When 0.9 comes out, game developers will need make sure they are at least on SDK 0.8 otherwise they risk incompatibility. Things will be tough for developers in this short window of time, but Oculus claims its necessary to "allow them to more rapidly evolve the software architecture and API." After SDK 1.0 hits, future SDK releases will continue to support 1.0.

Source: Oculus

GDC 15: AMD Mantle Might Be Dead as We Know It: No Public SDK Planned

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 2, 2015 - 02:31 PM |
Tagged: sdk, Mantle, dx12, API, amd

The Game Developers Conference is San Francisco starts today and you can expect to see more information about DirectX 12 than you could ever possibly want, so be prepared. But what about the original low-level API, AMD Mantle. Utilized in Battlefield 4, Thief and integrated into the Crytek engine (announced last year), announced with the release of the Radeon R9 290X/290, Mantle was truly the instigator that pushed Microsoft into moving DX12's development along at a faster pace.

Since DX12's announcement, AMD has claimed that Mantle would live on, bringing performance advantages to AMD GPUs and would act as the sounding board for new API features for AMD and game development partners. And, as was always trumpeted since the very beginning of Mantle, it would become an open API, available for all once it outgrew the beta phase that it (still) resides in.

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Something might have changed there.

A post over on the AMD Gaming blog from Robert Hallock has some news about Mantle to share as GDC begins. First, the good news:

AMD is a company that fundamentally believes in technologies unfettered by restrictive contracts, licensing fees, vendor lock-ins or other arbitrary hurdles to solving the big challenges in graphics and computing. Mantle was destined to follow suit, and it does so today as we proudly announce that the 450-page programming guide and API reference for Mantle will be available this month (March, 2015) at www.amd.com/mantle.
 
This documentation will provide developers with a detailed look at the capabilities we’ve implemented and the design decisions we made, and we hope it will stimulate more discussion that leads to even better graphics API standards in the months and years ahead.

That's great! We will finally be able to read about the API and how it functions, getting access to the detailed information we have wanted from the beginning. But then there is this portion:

AMD’s game development partners have similarly started to shift their focus, so it follows that 2015 will be a transitional year for Mantle. Our loyal customers are naturally curious what this transition might entail, and we wanted to share some thoughts with you on where we will be taking Mantle next:

AMD will continue to support our trusted partners that have committed to Mantle in future projects, like Battlefield™ Hardline, with all the resources at our disposal.

  1. Mantle’s definition of “open” must widen. It already has, in fact. This vital effort has replaced our intention to release a public Mantle SDK, and you will learn the facts on Thursday, March 5 at GDC 2015.
     
  2. Mantle must take on new capabilities and evolve beyond mastery of the draw call. It will continue to serve AMD as a graphics innovation platform available to select partners with custom needs.
     
  3. The Mantle SDK also remains available to partners who register in this co-development and evaluation program. However, if you are a developer interested in Mantle "1.0" functionality, we suggest that you focus your attention on DirectX® 12 or GLnext.

Essentially, AMD's Mantle API in it's "1.0" form is at the end of its life, only supported for current partners and the publicly available SDK will never be posted. Honestly, at this point, this isn't so much of a let down as it is a necessity. DX12 and GLnext have already superseded Mantle in terms of market share and mind share with developers and any more work AMD put into getting devs on-board with Mantle is wasted effort.

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Battlefield 4 is likely to be the only major title to use AMD Mantle

AMD claims to have future plans for Mantle though it will continue to be available only to select partners with "custom needs." I would imagine this would expand outside the world games but could also mean game consoles could be the target, where developers are only concerned with AMD GPU hardware.

So - from our perspective, Mantle as we know is pretty much gone. It served its purpose, making NVIDIA and Microsoft pay attention to the CPU bottlenecks in DX11, but it appears the dream was a bit bigger than the product could become. AMD shouldn't be chastised because of this shift nor for its lofty goals that we kind-of-always knew were too steep a hill to climb. Just revel in the news that pours from GDC this week about DX12.

Source: AMD

Logitech G Announces Arx Control (+SDK) for iOS and Android

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2014 - 03:59 PM |
Tagged: sdk, logitech g, logitech, arx control

The Arx platform is created by Logitech G to deliver "second screen experience" to PC gamers through their iOS or Android devices. Arx Control will have the ability to adjust your mouse DPI, rebind macros, and see the status of their gaming machine. Logitech did not specify the system information that would be given by app, but it does not matter in the end because they are releasing an SDK for it.

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The Arx Control SDK, along with the LED Illumination SDK and the G-Key Macro SDK, will allow game and application developers to interact with "Logitech G" devices and the Arx Control app. This could range from providing ammo meters and timers, to offers of in-app purchases. That last point is clearly aimed more at developers than customers because that sounds really scary to me. Then again, it can be done correctly -- such as Team Fortress 2, in my opinion.

What could be cool is if a friend, watching you play, could contribute to the gameplay in some way. Then again, if a developer wanted to put that much effort, they could probably create a mobile web app. This is probably more useful for small things, like the aforementioned ammo and health status indicators, that would otherwise not be worth a developer's effort, without Logitech's platform.

The Logitech G Arx Control SDK is available now for free and the Arx Control App will be available soon on the iOS App Store and Google Play.

Source: Logitech

Fusion-io Supports Native Memory Access In SDK

Subject: Storage | April 21, 2012 - 12:32 AM |
Tagged: ssd, sdk, ioMemory, fusion-io

Fusion-io, a manufacturer of various PCI-E based solid state drives, has released a software development kit (SDK) that allows developers to access the NAND flash memory directly. Debuting at the DEMO conference, the SDK gives software developers direct access to the memory and how it operates. As Allyn mentioned on the podcast, the Fusion-io drives use rather dumb controllers and rely on software and the host machines processor to do the heavy lifting.

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But because of the way the Fusion-io drives work, and being PCI-E based, they are able to present the NAND flash to software without going through other layers of abstraction such as the SATA interface and internal drive controller processing. Software is then able use the NAND flash as storage for applications that demand high input/output operations per second.  And because of the direct access, latency is greatly reduced.

The full press release is below:

Source: Fusion-io

Crytek releases an epic competitor to UDK, CryENGINE 3 Free

Subject: General Tech | August 24, 2011 - 02:36 AM |
Tagged: crysis, CryENGINE 3, crytek, epic, udk, unreal, sdk

There exists a common thought that developing a game is a relaxed experience involving playing all day. Creating games is really a difficult experience; the majority of entry-level jobs consist of creating trees and rocks for the latest Nickelodeon or Disney movie tie-in for 80-hour weeks on end. While there exist some levels of exceptions to that rule and some people who do not mind that lifestyle there is quite a bit of churn in the industry as people simply burn out. Outside the typical distribution chains there exists the independent movement similar to that seen in the 90’s where smaller companies can publish with a much lower overhead now thanks in majority to the internet. For those who wish to develop their own smaller titles there exists many options with Crytek adding one more to the ring; CryENGINE 3 has gone free for non-commercial use with royalty options for commercial applications.

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The little engine that cryed is getting the royaltyment

CryENGINE 3, like the UDK, does not include native source code access (full game-code access though) which is to be expected from a modern commercial engine: there are likely quite a few sections of the source code that Crytek cannot legally release to the public because it was written by other individuals and companies. Also as should be expected from an engine like this, regular updates are promised including an update to allow the same DirectX 11 features as was recently patched into Crysis 2 to make your jersey barriers look stunningly lifelike.

Source: CryDev

AMD Accelerates APU OpenCL Performance With New SDK

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | August 8, 2011 - 08:28 PM |
Tagged: amd, APU, sdk, opencl

AMD released its new APUs (Accelerated Processing Unit) to the masses, and now they are revving the processors up with a new software development kit that increases performance and efficiency of OpenCL based applications. The new version 2.5 APP SDK is tailored to the APU architecture where the CPU and GPU are on the same die. Building on the OpenCL standard, APP SDK 2.5 promises to reduce the bandwidth limitation of the CPU to GPU connection, allowing for effective data transfer rates as high as 15GB per second in AMDs A Series APUs. Further performance enhancements include reduced kernel launch times and PCIe overhead.

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AMD states that the new APP SDK will improve multi-gpu support for AMD APU graphics paired with a discrete card, and will “enable advanced capabilities” to improve the user experience including gesture based interfaces, image stabilization, and 3D applications.

The new development kit is currently being used by developers worldwide in the AMD OpenCl coding competition, where up to $50,000 in prizes will be given away to winning software submissions. You can get started with the SDK here.

Source: AMD

Intel releases OpenCL SDK for Linux!

Subject: Processors | May 12, 2011 - 08:21 AM |
Tagged: software, sdk, linux, Intel, developer

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Intel has just released an update to their OpenCL (Open Computing Language) SDK (Software Development Kit). With this update Intel has released a 64bit .rpm package, and previously only supported Windows. OpenCL is a huge jump in the future of heterogeneous computing, and the future of computers. Intel joins a host of manufacturers that now support OpenCL which includes AMD/ATI and nVidia.

OpenCL has many competitors in the heterogeneous computing realm which includes nVidia's CUDA and Microsoft's DirectCompute. All of this is one giant step forward in GPGPU. In the majority of computers that have dedicated GPU's or have an Intel processor with on-cpu graphics that are not in use, this is great news! Hopefully, future Linux distributions implement OpenCL similar to OS X did with Snow Leopard.

Source: Intel