A recent interview article by PCPowerPlay is stirring up a lot of buzz online asÂ NVIDIAâ€™s Senior Vice President of Content and Technology,Tony TamasiÂ has some words regarding the state of PC graphics and its contention with the upcoming next-gen consoles, which are both powered by AMD. Here’s what Mr. Tamasi had to say:
“It’s no longer possible for a console to be a better or more capable graphics platform than the PC,”Â he told Australia’s PC Power Play.Â “I’ll tell you why. In the past, certainly with the first PlayStation and PS2, in that era there weren’t really good graphics on the PC. Around the time of the PS2 is when 3D really started coming to the PC, but before that time 3D was the domain of Silicon Graphics and other 3D workstations. Sony, Sega or Nintendo could invest in bringing 3D graphics to a consumer platform. In fact, the PS2 was faster than a PC.”
“By the time of the Xbox 360 and PS3, the consoles were on par with the PC. If you look inside those boxes, they’re both powered by graphics technology by AMD or NVIDIA, because by that time all the graphics innovation was being done by PC graphics companies. NVIDIA spends 1.5 billion US dollars per year on research and development in graphics, every year, and in the course of a console’s lifecycle we’ll spend over 10 billion dollars into graphics research. Sony and Microsoft simply can’t afford to spend that kind of money. They just don’t have the investment capacity to match the PC guys; we can do it thanks to economy of scale, as we sell hundreds of millions of chips, year after year.”
“The second factor is that everything is limited by power these days. If you want to go faster, you need a more efficient design or a bigger power supply. The laws of physics dictate that the amount of performance you’re going to get from graphics is a function of the efficiency of the architecture, and how much power budget you’re willing to give it. The most efficient architectures are from NVIDIA and AMD, and you’re not going to get anything that is significantly more power efficient in a console, as it’s using the same core technology. Yet the consoles have power budgets of only 200 or 300 Watts, so they can put them in the living room, using small fans for cooling, yet run quietly and cool. And that’s always going to be less capable than a PC, where we spend 250W just on the GPU. There’s no way a 200W Xbox is going to be beat a 1000W PC.”
Some media have chosen to omit the latter part of the interview where Tony Tamasi states that the next-gen console’s architecture are good for gamers since the new consoles are based on an X86 architecture. Here’s what Mr. Tamasi stated when asked about consoles’ performance compared to their capacity:
I think a console can punch above their weight to some degree, but not by a factor of three. I wouldnâ€™t even say a factor of two. Partially because they have leaner and meaner operating systems and APIs, theyâ€™re closer to the metal, and also because developers can hand-craft code for these fixed platforms.
Things have changed, though. Direct X has gotten much, much better compared to where it used to be. The barrier between Direct X level of interface and to-the-metal interface has gotten much closer. It used to be huge, but not so much anymore. Also, I think the PCs and the consoles look alike these days. The PS4 and Xbox One have an x86 CPU, a PC-style GPU. Itâ€™s a giant integrated graphics PC.
Thatâ€™s great, because if devs are spending all this time optimising for a PS4 or Xbox One, then a good portion of that will benefit the PC, because theyâ€™re basically doing PC architecture optimisation. Itâ€™s good for everyone â€“ the developers donâ€™t have all these crazy architectures they have to sort through. 80% of their work is now applicable to all platforms. Itâ€™s great for gamers, as games can be better on all platforms. And itâ€™s great for PC, as thereâ€™s less weird divergence between consoles and PC, which means a lot more leverage for devs to raise the bar. If there were technological reasons that games werenâ€™t ported to the PC in the past, there are a lot less of those reasons come next-gen.
Back2Gaming says: It’s a very complicated topic for us since a lot of us here play on consoles and PC and we believe that it all boils down to games. No matter how intense the graphics may be, if the gameplay doesn’t live up to the visual experience then that game isn’t going far.
We do agree with Mr. Tamasi that the next-gen consoles x86 architecture open up a whole new world of possibilities for games to be easily ported to PC and consoles. We only hope that game developers take advantage of this and provide all gamers, regardless of platform, the games they want.