AMD (AMD +0.5%) has officially launched its anticipated Hawaii GPUs. The chips, which use a 28nm manufacturing process, are pivotal to AMD's efforts to win back GPU share recent lost to Nvidia (NVDA -0.3%), are offered through two product families: the high-end R9 series and the mid-range R7.
Hawaii supports AMD's Mantle API, which the chipmaker declares will enable "a deeper level of hardware optimization no other graphics card manufacturer can match." Also included is TrueAudio, an integrated programmable audio pipeline for game developers (AMD claims it's an industry first).
AnandTech observes that, as a low-level API optimized for AMD GPUs, Mantle doesn't come with the performance costs attached to higher-level APIs meant for multiple GPUs, such as Direct3D and OpenGL. It also sees Mantle simplifying the process of bringing console games to PCs (thanks to AMD's console wins), and improving AMD's developer support.
For now, Hawaii will square off against Nvidia's mainstay Kepler GPUs. Nvidia's next-gen Maxwell GPUs are expected in Q1.
Meanwhile, Nvidia is partnering with popular online game platform Valve to optimize the graphics performance of the latter's SteamOS, a Linux variant being created with big-screen gaming systems in mind.
AllThingsD makes a case that Valve's developer ties and SteamOS' potential to enable upgradable gaming systems could make Steam systems a disruptive force in the gaming industry, even if they aren't console killers.