For those not current on AMD, the short of Mantle is that it is an API bypass (alternative) to DirectX, giving software programmers more direct access to the GPU and eliminating dX overhead. This means more of the GPU can be leveraged to drive draw calls, equalizing load distribution (lifting some API load from the CPU) and eliminating bottlenecks in the software/OS layers.
After delays due to a bug infestation, Battlefield 4 stands as the first mainstream game on the market to officially support AMD's Mantle. The recent 1GB+ patch served almost entirely to add Mantle support to AMD GPUs (though nVidia users still had to download what was effectively useless data), and now that AMD's driver is out, players on supported devices should start seeing performance improvements in the form of higher framerates and smoother frame delivery.
On that note, the new 14.1 Catalyst driver update brings what AMD calls "phase 2" frame-pacing to older AMD hardware. We've frequently noted that nVidia offers the most consistent frame-time delivery among GPU manufacturers; historically, nVidia GPUs have tended to render frames with a tighter latency (interval) than AMD's offerings, which reported slightly more sporadic frame delivery in most games. Catalyst 14.1 beta's introduction of phase 2 frame-pacing will resolve multi-monitor (Eyefinity, 4K) frame output issues experienced previously. The driver update also finally puts Dual Graphics into the fight, giving owners of both discrete and integrated GPUs (an APU + dedicated configuration, for instance) a means to utilize both GPUs simultaneously to bolster performance.
The driver can be downloaded here: http://support.amd.com/en-us/kb-articles/Pages/latest-catalyst-windows-beta.aspx
- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.