👤by Richard Weatherstone Comments 📅07-09-14

Based on raw specifications alone the Radeon R9 285 compares unfavourably with the R9 280, but in addition to any efficiencies AMD have found in transition from Tahiti Pro to Tonga Pro it should be noted at partners have launched with large factor overclocks, in some instances to over 1GHz on the GPU core. Any attempt to dismiss the new GPU out of hand therefore is unwise.

Of course, as one of the new breed of GCN GPUs the R9 285 also supports Mantle and AMD TrueAudio. By contrast support for Mantle on the R9 280 is less robust, nor does it include the DSP necessary for TrueAudio Technology. The R9 285 therefore is leaner, meaner and more feature-complete than its older sibling.

AMD Crossfire-X
As with the R9-290 and R9-290X, the R9-285 is capable of Crossfire-X without the need for unsightly bridges. AMD CrossFire™ technology is the ultimate multi-GPU performance gaming platform. Unlocking game-dominating power, AMD CrossFire™ harnesses the power of two or more discrete graphics cards working in parallel to dramatically improve gaming performance. With AMD CrossFire™-certified AMD Radeon™ HD graphics cards ready for practically every budget and the flexibility to combine two, three or four GPUs, AMD CrossFire™ is the perfect multi-GPU solution for those who demand the best.

AMD TrueAudio Technology

The news AMD GPUs, including the Radeon R9 285, now incorporate a dedicated onboard Digital Signal Processor. By using this rather than overloading the CPU with ever more complicated soundscapes AMD TrueAudio technology allows for more diverse and directional sound. Robust middleware partner support means that the hardware can be utilised in new and innovative ways. TrueAudio cards don't replace a soundcard, instead reducing the requirement for CPU resources dedicated to autio tasks.

AMD TrueAudio removes constraints on sound developers by giving sound engineers the freedom to follow their imaginations and the power to make their games sound as convincing as they look. Here are some of the features that make that possible:

- A dedicated digital signal processor (DSP) is built in to the AMD GPU core. That’s a hefty dose of processing power committed just to generating immersive soundscapes. That doesn’t just enable new and exciting audio features in games; it also saves CPU cycles that can be used for other tasks.

- Programmable sound effects bring to audio the same kind of flexibility that programmable shaders brought to graphics. Game developers aren’t stuck with inflexible canned effects anymore. They now have the flexibility to create complex effects and acoustic environments.

- More voice channels and audio objects mean game developers no longer have the unenviable task of determining which sounds are expendable. AMD TrueAudio technology multiplies the number of sounds a game can generate at once, giving developers the capacity to create much more lifelike soundscapes.

- True to life echoes and convolution reverb are finally available on all platforms, meaning programmers can now build these effects into their games rather than relying on basic reverbs. The types of real-world acoustic phenomena that can be faithfully reproduced are massively greater.

- Multi-channel spacialization brings in-headset surround sound with accurate positional audio algorithms to all gamers; not just the ones with the priciest headgear.
By leveraging AMD TrueAudio technology, game developers now have the ability to recreate acoustic environments with incredible fidelity, and to bring them to every gamer. With AMD technology inside all the most popular “next-generation” gaming platforms, including the PC, gamers across the entire industry will finally enjoy the best audio today’s technology can offer.


Mantle is AMD's low-level graphics API which is supported by much of their new GCN-based graphics hardware. It works to reduce driver overhead and make the CPU less of a bottleneck, also improving multi-core utilisation in the process. The resultant benefit is a reduced frame to frame time, not only improving average frame rates but also exhibiting a smoother frame rate experience.

From a game developer’s point of view, creating games for the PC has never been especially efficient. With so many combinations of hardware possible in a PC, it’s not practical to create specialized programming for every possible configuration. What they do instead is write simplified code that gets translated on-the-fly into something the computer can work with.

Just as when two people communicate through a translator, this works, but it isn’t efficient. And it’s the CPU that has to do all this extra work, translating and queuing data for the graphics card to process. PCs are meant to be the ultimate gaming platform — they have the power — but all this translation slows things down, and game developers approached AMD asking for something better.

What Mantle does

Mantle is the harmony of three essential ingredients:
- A driver within the AMD Catalyst™ software suite that lets applications speak directly to the Graphics Core Next architecture;
- A GPU or APU enabled with the Graphics Core Next architecture;
- An application or game written to take advantage of Mantle.

Mantle reduces the CPU’s workload by giving developers a way to talk to the GPU directly with much less translation. With less work for the CPU to do, programmers can squeeze much more performance from a system, delivering the greatest benefits in gaming systems where the CPU can be the bottleneck.

What it means for gamers

Now that Mantle has freed up some extra CPU capacity, we expect Mantle will lead to better games, and more of them, since Mantle makes game development easier.
That’s not all Mantle will do for gamers. By shifting work to the GPU, a mid-range or older CPU isn’t the same handicap it was before. With Mantle, the GPU becomes the critical part of the system, and GPU upgrades will have a bigger impact than before.

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