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New iPhones "on par with next-generation consoles" - Gibeau

By Chris Morris

New iPhones "on par with next-generation consoles" - Gibeau

Thu 11 Sep 2014 7:03pm GMT / 3:03pm EDT / 12:03pm PDT
Mobile

EA Mobile head weighs in potential of Apple's latest, already has people prototyping for Watch

Frank Gibeau and his team at EA Mobile spent their Tuesday like a lot of other tech enthusiasts: Grumbling about the quality of Apple's stream of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch reveal.

The group gathered en masse in a conference room, as it does with every Apple reveal, to watch a broadcast that faded in and out (and occasionally came through in Chinese). But while the rest of us were gnashing our teeth in frustration, the mobile teams were already riffing on ideas about what they could do with the technology being introduced.

"It was a good Christmas morning," said Gibeau after the conference had wrapped up. "We got a lot of the gifts we asked for. One key takeaway is that with the retina display and the improved processor, combined with the Metal [graphics] capabilities and 128 GB of memory, that gets you to a device that's on part with next-generation consoles. That's moving perfectly into our strike zone."

EA Mobile works on a lot more than just smartphones and tablets, though. It's one of the hives of the company's research efforts in wearable technology - including the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear VR. Earlier this week, Gibeau, the executive vice president of EA Mobile, noted that two internal teams are already prototyping experiences for the Apple Watch (and further mentioned to GamesIndustry.biz that the total number of people is around half a dozen). But the overall focus is much wider.

"We got real excited about Apple Watch," he says. "Wearables could be the future gaming platforms. Look at Oculus, Google Glass, Apple Watch, Samsung's announcement last week. There are unique functions and ways to interact with these devices that open up a new platform."

Among the ideas Gibeau mentioned specifically for Apple Watch were scenarios where they could interact with EA Sports mobile games. (For instance, if you run four miles, that could unlock a feature in a sports game.)

"Some ideas are going to work, some aren't," he admits. "I see it as a potentially very viable platform. ... But we just found out about the watch in a material way, so we have to have time before we gravitate toward one idea or the other."

While EA Mobile is also looking at Samsung's VR headset, Gibeau didn't have much to say about that platform in general, but did note that the company considers VR as part of the wearable market. That, however, does not necessarily mean that his team will be leading the charge for experiences like the Oculus Rift. ("We're not at an application commitment level yet," he demurs.)

Gibeau's claim that mobile gaming is becoming on par with next-generation consoles is likely to stir some debate - and a lot of doubters. And he clarifies that that's certainly not the case with every mobile device.

"In some combination of devices, we're kind of there," he says. "On others, it's a little hard. The thing about mobile is there are 60,000 flavors of handsets each year. Some are extraordinarily high performance - and given that you're looking at a small screen that's right in front of you, pound for pound, it's right there."

As proof, he points to a mobile prototype of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, which runs on mobile devices using Frostbite - and says he expects playable products using the company's premiere graphics engine "soon".

Also, he says, the constant iteration of the technology each year lets mobile continually close any gaps between the two technologies. That's why EA has put such a strong focus on mobile in recent years. Gibeau moved over from running the company's console game unit to mobile a little shy of a year ago. Mobile, Gibeau says, is in many ways the future of EA.

"If you look at the market... mobile has a strong growth path in front of it," he says. "Then you've got wearables on top of that. At EA, we look at it as an especially powerful strategic path for us. ... We've been a premium business - and we've been changing the company from the ground up to become a services business. We have an optimistic and profoundly bright view of the future because of this platform expansion in mobile."

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25 Comments

Rolf Klischewski Founder & CEO, gameslocalization.com

57 167 2.9
Popular Comment
How exactly is an iPhone 6
on par with next-generation consoles
?

So, I can have a Forza 5 or Killzone: Shadow Fall or Uncharted 4 experience on an iPhone 6?

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,520 3,216 1.3
Popular Comment
Gibeau's definition of par and my definition of par are not on par with each other.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jim Webb on 12th September 2014 3:14am

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing

767 519 0.7
I'm going to call BS until proven otherwise. There's simply no way. Bioshock is significantly reduced graphically to run on the 20% slower 5s, and the increase in RAM is at least partially hampered by the move to 64-bit.

I'm willing to believe, but the compromises needed for mobile just don't seem to make it likely whatsoever.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,491 1,880 1.3
47 Inch iPhone confirmed! Where do I stand in line?

Posted:2 years ago

#4

John Owens CEO, Wee Man Studios Ltd

1,032 1,352 1.3
What will be cool is when the occulus is used in conjunction with the super smartphones.

I want to see occulus laser tag venues.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Istvan Fabian Principal Engineer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

98 84 0.9
He probably meant the New 3DS :)

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Tom Keresztes Programmer

742 400 0.5
Well... Kabini A5000 which is a quad core Jaguar core achieved 6512.7 ms on the Mozilla Kraken benchmark. The Tegra K1 performs the same test in 4296 msecs. In fact, most A15 based mobile chips could actually beat the CPU in the PS4 in this benchmark. After all, the Jaguar is not quite as fast as an i7 (maybe half speed at the same clock speed), as it is a low power chip originally designed for netbooks. Its quite far from being the fastest x86 chip.
Obviously, GPU wise there is no competition (Tegra K1 is power hungry at using 7Ws, the PS4 gpu is using at least 200W), but what this article states is not that far off from the truth. The gap is closing with every generation - the A7's memory bandwidth is maybe a quarter to a half of what the 360 can deliver.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6974/amd-kabini-review/3
http://www.anandtech.com/show/8296/the-nvidia-shield-tablet-review/4

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Adam Campbell Product Executive, Hopster

1,451 1,534 1.1
Just about any engine can be scaled to mobile devices, in part thanks to their more sophisticated shader architecture these days. "On Par" still doesn't make a lot of sense, it suggests they are somehow equivelent or equal which doesn't reflect the truth of the matter.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd

438 1,187 2.7
Nope.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,520 3,216 1.3
Popular Comment
Tom, are you really using a browser javascript engine test as a means to measure a mobile device to a console? That's a little like measuring the stereo wattage of a mini-van against a Corvette.

As for memory bandwidth. The X360 launched almost 9 years ago and the A7's are only approaching a quarter to half of the bandwidth?

Those don't sound like closing the gap. Any device that gets a yearly upgrade compared to a static device of 6-7 years is going to see a closing gap. But which gap you use needs to be relevant. Not the old generation and not browser code execution.

You're right about the GPU side of things and that is where any gap measurement between gaming devices really should be focused on (though not exclusively). And in this regard, the gap is closing about as much as a short walk gets you closer to China. Technically correct but still a long way to go.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,491 1,880 1.3
Popular Comment
A list of things to riff on Youtube style:

(1) Watching Apple announcements at work in a conference room.
(2) Directly quoting the PR shopping list of features and then applying it to yourself (your business), like Apple expects from its drone customers.
(3) Using "watch" and "experience" in the same sentence.
(4) Likening a one inch wrist screen to a head mounted display taking over your entire field of view.
(5) Suggesting sports games need to be linked to actual activity.
(6) A VR screen is not a wearable. Granted, you wear it on your head, but you do not wear it outside like you would other wearables.
(7) Future benchmark tests should be all about the FLOPS to weight ratio.
(8) Frostbite runs on mobile devices now, but it will only be playable "soon".
(9) EA is focusing on mobile, because mobile is closing the gap to consoles. Therefore, EA will someday release mobile games on what essentially has then become a console.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Tom Keresztes Programmer

742 400 0.5
Tom, are you really using a browser javascript engine test as a means to measure a mobile device to a console? That's a little like measuring the stereo wattage of a mini-van against a Corvette.
Kraken benchmark is directly proportional to the IPC of the CPU, and i've chosen a test that has been run on both hardware. What you said does not make any sense - and unprofessional.
This test measures how a sequence of code performs in a similar environment (Chrome). Its indicative of the relative performance. If you are not familiar with the architectures, the Jaguar is a dual issue cpu, the Cortex A15 can issue 4 integer instructions and 2 floating point instructions per cycle.
In 2008, the PowerVR MBX Lite was rated to 1 million triangles per second. Theoretical. The iPhone 5S was benchmarked to perform 87 million triangles per second in glbenchmark 2.5 (and its not the fastest hardware anymore). Did the consoles got a similar increase in performance since the last generation? If this is not closing the gap, then what is ?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tom Keresztes on 12th September 2014 3:58pm

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Tom Keresztes Programmer

742 400 0.5
On Par" still doesn't make a lot of sense, it suggests they are somehow equivalent or equal which doesn't reflect the truth of the matter.
Probably means similar enough technology for development.

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Adam Campbell Product Executive, Hopster

1,451 1,534 1.1
In 2008, the PowerVR MBX Lite was rated to 1 million triangles per second. Theoretical. The iPhone 5S was benchmarked to perform 87 million triangles per second in glbenchmark 2.5 (and its not the fastest hardware anymore). Did the consoles got a similar increase in performance since the last generation? If this is not closing the gap, then what is ?
Polygon performance is quite misleading. If you look at the growth in performance of Apple SoCs - comparing theoretical performance (GFLOPS), to the manufacturing process (nm) and size of the die (mm).

I don't see anything significant about the speed of advancement. In the space of time, the performance gains have been as expected for the processes available.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_system_on_a_chip#List_of_Apple_SoCs

Approximate Adreno Performance gains since around 2008;

Adreno 130: 1.2 GFLOPS
Adreno 200: 2.1 GFLOPS
Adreno 205: 8.5 GFLOPS
Adreno 220: 17 GFLOPS
Adreno 305: 25.6 GFLOPS
Adreno 320: 51.2 GFLOPS
Adreno 330: 130 GFLOPS
Adreno 420: ~200+GFLOPS

As consoles are fixed specification pieces of hardware, with no yearly graphics update - I'm not sure the extent to which "closing the gap" is that relevent.

By this point mobile GPUs should be catching up with 2006 consoles. The rate at which they reach and exceed 1.8tflops performance in however many years, I'd expect to be pretty much the same.
Probably means similar enough technology for development.
That's agreeable, but for a lot of people this language of "on par" can be quite contentious and confusing. These phones are no more on par with next gen consoles than Vita is with PS3. But sure, similar types of games, some familiar graphics processes.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 12th September 2014 4:33pm

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,520 3,216 1.3
Tom, do consoles render their triangles in the CPU or GPU? If we look at the system as a whole, even the PS2 could draw 77 million triangles. Consoles today can render billions. Naturally you have shaders, textures and dozens of other things to apply but you get the gist.

You can't look at just the CPU. Which is why I wrote my car stereo analogy. It's part of the whole but not the final deciding factor in performance. On a console, that's largely the realm of the GPU. And you are correct in noting the wattage difference in the GPUs of mobile devices and home consoles. Mobile devices simply do not have the luxury of wall socket power that home consoles do and therefore by the laws of physics will never close the gap. They can creep forward thanks to yearly iterations. But closing the gap is simply an impossibility due to physics.

I mean are we really considering a device that pushes ~160+ GFLOPS as closing the gap on devices pushing 10 times that much?

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Jamie Read 3D Artist, Neon Play Ltd

137 81 0.6
No.

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Tom Keresztes Programmer

742 400 0.5
Polygon performance is quite misleading. If you look at the growth in performance of Apple SoCs - comparing theoretical performance (GFLOPS), to the manufacturing process (nm) and size of the die (mm).
All metrics can be misleading. If you take into account that the PowerVR architecture, and you take into the locality of your vertices to help the tile based renderer do its work, you achieve far more than the specs would suggest. But then, i already regretted commenting on this topic - this is not going to be a technical discussion about different architectures and how to get the most of them. Its just the usual flame war of consoles vs mobiles.
Mobile devices simply do not have the luxury of wall socket power that home consoles do and therefore by the laws of physics will never close the gap
Ouya. FireTV. Mojo. Is any of these less of a console because it has a mobile GPU? It does not have to throttle to meet the thermal and power usage requirements. Consoles are are like the home video used to be, its due for consolidation.

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,491 1,880 1.3
The iPhone 5 has a 3.8V battery with 1.56A, for a whopping 6 Watts of energy. Religious belief in progress and ongoing miniaturization is not going to help you out of this predicament, since progress applies both to mobile devices and wall socket devices.

Posted:2 years ago

#18
"Gibeau's claim that mobile gaming is becoming on par with next-generation consoles is likely to stir some debate" - didn't see any debate in this fence sitting article though. It's more like an EA advert just regurgitating what an EA spokesperson says without any input from the writer. i.e. No journalism. If I had written this, it would have been followed by "....this is of course nonsense, but they do have an amazing amount of power for things so small.". Also, what's the point in having a powerful phone - it's still a tiny screen that has most of the action covered up by thumbs. Now, if phones came up with a default controller that everyone could agree on and screencasting of some sort, then maybe they could start rivalling consoles.

Has anyone tried playing R-type on a phone or tablet? Eventually you'll get hit by a bullet from someone behind your thumb.

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,520 3,216 1.3
Tom, if all metrics can be misleading, why did you start your first post talking about metrics?

And do you really think Gibeau was talking about OUYA and Mojo? No. He (as was I and others here), was talking about the home consoles with 200 watt TDPs.

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

619 709 1.1
It's easy to be fooled by the illusion of a closing gap when in fact it's just a matter of playing catch up with the potential for portable high processing devices. For years they have been neglected so they have not been developed to their full potential as yields were low.

All advances in mobile are advances to dedicated devices also. Remember the history of the Core2Duo? It took what was learned about optimal energy usage in mobile devices and brought them to desktop processors, making Intel for the first time in many years able to produce more power per buck than AMD with processors that ran cooler. There may have been other minor discoveries taken from mobile, but let that be a reminder.

As for the relevance of consoles. They are just as relevant today as they were yesterday. The pie has grown, so the portion of the pie consoles takes is smaller, but that is of no consequence if consoles are still eating the same amount of pie. Don't get bogged down in percentages only otherwise you will not be able to see the woods from the trees.

Perhaps in another five or ten years we can revisit the role of consoles in the home and perhaps things may have changed. For a start we are seeing less gain in increased graphical performance, due mainly to a lack of new graphical effects being implemented in hardware.

We know from Gameboy and DS sales that the dedicated handheld market is very strong in comparison to the console market.

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing

767 519 0.7
Kaldon, there is speculation based on reasonable evidence that the next Nintendo console will be a hybrid unification, that the tablet portion will be portable, and carry it's own titles, and then interface with a motherbox which carries the heavy lifting and "real" games. I think it's an interesting idea, but probably too expensive to be practical.

While I believe Chrimecast style integration certainly has a future, consoles simply offer more than something portable can. If anything, they will finally kill the desktop out of non-hobbyist homes, but consoles will simply continue to evolve into game playing home hubs. I

If I were designing a new console now, I'd double the dedicated "app" Ram, and include a powerful iPad Air level multi core low power CPU to drive it. The game side is important, the connected home side that will get and keep those bites in people's homes, for their tablets and phones to integrate with just as much

Posted:2 years ago

#22

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

1,156 1,284 1.1
Yes, I'm sure Destiny and Diablo III will play great on them. How many times will we have this conversation?

Consoles have a purpose, one that makes them attractive to some people over PC and that mobile devices still can't cover. Which is having a machine able to give a good gaming experience without having to build a high-end gaming PC.

I'm sure phones will do fine in their own field of AAA and unique experiences, but that won't come as long as most of the releases for them are low-cost productions searching for a quick cash in through micro-transactions (Just check the "Sharknado" game, for example, why in the world we have that?

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Tom Keresztes Programmer

742 400 0.5
f I were designing a new console now, I'd double the dedicated "app" Ram, and include a powerful iPad Air level multi core low power CPU to drive it. The game side is important, the connected home side that will get and keep those bites in people's homes, for their tablets and phones to integrate with just as much
(Amazon) FireTV ?

Posted:2 years ago

#24
Do you reckon when he meant on par, he meant in terms of processing power.
Because, I'd be pretty shortsighted to figure out what resolution a dinky little watch can display...to have meaningful console like game experience...maybe its for all the suits and metric guys who enjoy watching how fast they can type on the keyboard, and click on the mouse to burn sufficient calories to have another frappacino..to tie in all the potential new health tracker fad :)

a wearable watch will be cool when it has a holographic projection and we can say, go go gadget, play game! go go gadget buy lunch for the whole studio, using tailored personal needs in contacts folder...or something of the like, (and go go gadget pickup dry cleaning)

Posted:2 years ago

#25

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