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Despite numerous online reports’ suggestion to the contrary earlier this week, AMD says it is committed to supporting Microsoft’s Direct X application programming interface (API) on its GPU hardware for gaming.
Bit-tech.net last Wednesday reported that AMD's worldwide developer relations manager of its GPU division, Richard Huddy said software developers told him Microsoft’s Direct X was getting in the way of optimal graphics performance for PC gaming. In an interview with CRN on Tuesday, however, Huddy said his comments had been taken out of context and exaggerated. Huddy and Neal Robison, senior director of ISV relations at AMD, said only high-end gaming developers may benefit from going around Microsoft’s API.
“The [Bit-tech] interview started off being about Open GL, and the way APIs are developed,” Huddy said. “Obviously there’s pressure from Microsoft on hardware vendors to develop Direct X in a variety of ways. We spend a great deal of time getting feedback from game developers in the early phase of our hardware development, for products that are two or three years away from going to market.”
During the process of collecting feedback from software developers, Huddy said that a very small number of very high-end developers said they wanted to go around Microsoft’s API. “We’ve received an increasing number of requests from some game developers to get around the limitations of the API,” he said. “The problem is that games have converged on a particular kind of solution for a particular kind of hardware, either the Direct X API or Open GL.”
Huddy cited developers including Dice, known for its successful Battlefield series, and Critech are among the minority of game developers who are looking to get around the API. “It’s not something most developers want,” he said. “If you held a vote among developers, they would go for Direct X or Open GL, because it’s a great platform.”
In particular, Robison touted Direct X’s stability and the standardization it has brought to what was a highly-segmented industry. “We saw some of the chaos before Direct X coalesced the industry,” Robison said. “In the past there were all kinds of APIs developers had to worry about.”
In fact, according to Huddy, developers were not the only ones who fell under pressure from the lack of a standard API to simplify the difficult task of game development; hardware vendors like AMD had to do more before Direct X came along as well. “Every single hardware vendor had to worry about producing their own API, or mimic another vendor’s API,” he said. “But there are game developers who would very seriously consider tuning their code for a particular piece of hardware.”
The demand for an alternative to industry standards in game development involves a natural trade-off between stability and high-end performance, according to Huddy. “Direct X provides a highly stable platform,” he said. “It’s hard to crash a machine with Direct X, as there’s lots of protection to make sure the game isn’t taking down the machine, which is certainly rare especially compared to ten or fifteen years ago. Stability is the reason why you wouldn’t want to move away from Direct X, and differentiation is why you might want to.”