Mobile graphics evolving to console-level

Posted by Trent Nouveau

Rapidly evolving mobile graphics are expected to offer a console-like experience in the very near future.

As Nvidia rep Mike Rayfield points out, a traditional PC was once defined as including a display that measured 11 inches or more diagonally, a physical keyboard and possibly a network connection.

Mobile graphics evolving to console-level 

However, the advent of mobile computing has caused a paradigm shift, as a PC is now considered to be anything that is always connected, with a display of at least four inches and a touchscreen which supplements (or replaces) a physical keyboard.

According to Rayfield, mobile graphics capabilities and performance have advanced considerably in recent years, and are expected to close the performance gap with dedicated consoles over the next few years. Indeed, Nvidia believes Xbox 360-class performance will be achieved by its Tegra lineup of mobile processors sometime in the 2013-2014 timeframe.

The obvious question? What will happen to consoles like the Xbox, Playstation and Wii when mobile parity is finally reached? 

Well, it seems quite unlikely, at least initially, that mobile devices will supplant consoles, at least for the vast majority of core gamers.

However, as the console development cycles seems to be lengthening considerably (how long have we gone without a PS or Xbox refresh?), it certainly is feasible to imagine a scenario in the very near future when the latest Apple or Android tablet is capable of outperforming stagnating consoles.

As analyst Linley Gwennap of the Linley Group recently confirmed, mobile systems are quickly becoming the game platform of choice.

"I think we will see more game play on smartphones and less on dedicated devices like the Nintendo 3DS and Sony Playstation Vita - even tablets are taking away from game consoles," Gwennap explained in an industry note.

"The amount of silicon devoted to the GPU is starting to increase significantly as we look at die photos of mobile chips. [True], most of today's mobile software is not really going to use three and four cores, but that will evolve over time and things will become more favorable for quad core [processors]."