Nvidia's GTX Titan is the king of the single-GPUs. It's the most powerful single solution for graphics processing in games or otherwise. However, AMD is challenging Nvidia for the crown as king of the GPU hill with their new Hawaii based R9 2xx line-up and they say that the 290X will “ridicule” the Titan in performance.
Pixel Enemy picked up the quotes from AMD's Product Manager Devon Nekechuck, who mentioned that...
“[We] will definitely compete with the GTX 780 and Titan” ... “with Battlefield 4 running with Mantle (AMD’s new graphics API), the card will be able to ‘ridicule’ the Titan in terms of performance.”
Let's put a few things in perspective before moving on. First of all, the R9 290X was recently announced as part of AMD's GPU14 live-stream yesterday, revealing not only that they have a high-end graphics solution for the market but that it also features new HQ audio control features for some of the most in-depth surround sound functionality available in gaming and home entertainment.
The R9 290X also sports Ultra-HD graphics at native 4K resolutions, this is beyond anything you will see on the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 and the 290X is aimed at running those native resolutions at 60 frames per second. This is a benchmark in home gaming.
The 290X was also accompanied by sibling cards of a lesser nature, the 280X, the 270X, 260X and R7 250. Each one is designed to tackle a different layer of our economic market, going from the George Clooney of the pack (the 290X) down to the Paulie Shore of the group (the R7 250).
As for the Mantle that Nekechuck mentions – it's a new low-level API that allows developers to talk directly to the hardware of the GPU. If you're thinking what I know you should be thinking, then we're thinking on the same page. The R9 290X has the capability to outperform the Titan by squeezing more calculations per cycle out of its panties than the Titan and that could mean that in the benchmarks for games that take advantage of Mantle, the Titan would theoretically be at a disadvantage.
Of course, everyone and their mother these days uses DirectX, so getting developers to abandon DirectX for Mantle when designing games with AMD's cards in mind doesn't seem entirely likely. It reminds me of shades of DirectX versus Glide and DirectX versus OpenGL, it just doesn't end well for the little guy (though Glide had a good chance of beating DirectX for a bit during the late 90s).
Pixel Enemy takes the stance that it's all smoke and mirrors from AMD, and while they have a beastly card coming to the market right now they'll end up getting trumped in the long run once Nvidia announces their next-gen card, some believing it to be the GTX Titan Ultra. I must say, the name the “GTX Titan Ultra” sounds beastly.... R9 290X? Not so much.
Anyway, AMD will probably keep pushing hard for Mantle and the 290X as their “Titan killer”. But sadly, I'm of the belief that devs are too lazy and pubs are too greedy to adopt Mantle, even if it might be the better solution for low-level design and access for a GPU. The only way I could see it taking off is if it gets support from Valve and their new SteamOS for the launch of the Steam Machines in 2014.