NVIDIA: Consoles are stable - but static

Hardware manufacturer believes "gap is definitely closing" to PC and mobile

Hardware manufacturer NVIDIA has told that it believes while the console platforms do have an advantage in terms of stability, the resulting disadvantage is that the hardware is static - and the gap to mobile and PC is closing.

That's according to the company's senior corporate and Tegra PR manager Bea Longworth, speaking in an interview published today.

"Already mobile gaming is hot on the heels of what you would expect from console-class gaming," she said. "We were demonstrating an Xbox 360 game running on our quad-core Project Kal-El technology demonstration at MWC.

"The gap is definitely closing, and that has always been the Achilles' heel of the console - its greatest strength is it's a stable platform, it's very much plug and play, you don't have to fiddle around with the hardware and have all the hassle that you might get from the PC.

"But that's also its biggest disadvantage, the fact that they are static from one generation to another, and also that the technology can't improve. Whereas with other platforms like the PC and now mobile gaming, they will be constantly moving ahead.

"So it will be really, really interesting to see what console technology has to do in order to differentiate itself and stay ahead when it has to compete with a very mass-market mobile format instead of digging in its heels."

The company has been working hard to establish its technology in the mobile space, and while Apple uses its own chipsets, NVIDIA's confident its supply to the Android market can help it compete in the future.

"It already is extremely important to us, but in terms of the proportion of the business dedicated to that particular sector, it's definitely going to become one of our most important businesses in the future," she explained.

"We've been pretty open, over the last two or three years, that we have that expectation. And obviously mobile is currently the fastest-growing and the most exciting area of computing and technology, so it makes a lot of sense for us to be there at the forefront.

"So yes, we're definitely extremely committed to our mobile business and we're really excited to be able to start introducing devices from major manufacturers like LG and Samsung and Motorola based on our technology."

The full interview with Longworth is available now.

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Latest comments (20)

Private Industry 7 years ago
The biggest disadvante is for nvidia that they cant sell every year a new 500 bucks graphics card on cobsoles. Tech improves on a software level on consoles without the need of a new card unlike the PC.
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Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor 7 years ago
So more trumpet blowing about their mobile GPUs to get more developers to make games for them? Also sounds like nVidia aren't going to be getting a good deal in the next generation of consoles. Either that or they were expecting to be asked to start developing for the next generation sooner however could be disappointed now that the gen has extended.
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Miguel Melo Principal Software Engineer/Product Manager 7 years ago
I used to be a complete technology-chaser but I find it, more and more, that it's a hollow pursuit. We're already at a stage where current-gen technology is more than "good enough" to make an impressively looking game.

I wish people would snap out of this video engine arms race and just do honest-to-God fun games with the tech that's out there.
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Show all comments (20)
Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game7 years ago
Also, mobile games are selling very well, and top end mobile devices are capable of impressive feats, yet that's not what's selling on mobile. Ok, sure infinity blade has sold well, but the 2 most successful games are Doodle Jump and Angry Birds. Are Nvidia really sure mobile is their best avenue? Even if an iPhone 5 can run a PS3 game, you can't do that level of gameplay on a touchscreen anyway.
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Joe Winkler trained retail salesman, Expert7 years ago
Just think of a PC with 3 cell porzessors with 3.2 GHZ each. In 2005 it would have cost a lot. The Xbox was released in late 2005 and featured a good hardware for the price of 400 €uro. It´s always up to developing and engeneering to make good looking games.

If you compare a game like Call of Duty 2 (wich was technically good in graphics) and a game like crysis 2 wich runs on the same hardware with the newest graphics engine you´ll see the diffrence. It´s 5 years between these 2 games and of course the 5 years younger Crisis looks way better than CoD2.
So did you need a new console for that? -nope still running on the 2005 console.
Will your 2005 personal Computer be able to play it fluently? - not without modification (or enhancements).

A good engine like unreal, cry-engine, or even the doom engine should be enough to develope new games with good graphics. Like Mr. Nemetz says: "Tech imrpoves on a software level".
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Halli Bjornsson CEO, Outso Ltd7 years ago
Nvidia is a great company with some great product. However then the console manufacturers have an advantage in that they have what is probably the most valuable gaming consumer-base and have an on-going relationship with them regardless of what the hardware is.

Selling hardware is a commoditised business where you'll most likely end up competing on price as the innovation is facing a diminishing return with regards to resolution etc from the value to the customer perspective.
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gi biz ;, 7 years ago
Why don't they put some effort on closing their gap between ATI and nVidia drivers for Linux instead of chasing consoles?? Imo, if one buys a console it's because he doesn't want to deal with continuous upgrades and the likes.
And speaking of phone games, how well will the battery perform? Won't they be "static" as well?
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Taylan Kay Designer / Lead Programmer at Black Gate Studios, Nerd Corps Entertainment7 years ago
Actually it'll be more interesting to see NVIDIA figure out what they have to offer to the mass market that wants stable, hassle-free gaming. It's their arms-race competition strategy on the PC that helped the consoles get to where they are today, and almost brought PC-gaming down to niche status.
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Mike Wells Writer 7 years ago
"Already mobile gaming is hot on the heels of what you would expect from console-class gaming" - no it isn't. Agreed mobile is getting more sophisticated, but to talk about a closing "gap" suggests console and mobile games are the same proposition - they are not, for reasons of physical controllers, screen size, and a host of other elements. Stability allows developers to, over time, get to know the platform and deliver more making the software experience (which is the important part, though perhaps not for Nvidia) far from static. As a gamer, Nvidia was one of the main culprits that drove me away from the PC platform years ago, through constant driver and performance problems. I never went back. This is just PR fluff designed to send the message they want and has nothing to do with the real world: it isn't news.
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Mihai Cozma Indie Games Developer 7 years ago
First of all, nVidia powers PS3 from what I know, so they are in the console market too.

@ Joe Winkler - What you say is partially true, people have learned to push the limits of the current gen consoles to the max. However, the statement that Crysis won't run on a 2005 PC is wrong, as the PC version is not the same as the console version and in fact it looks so much better. If you however would try to run the version that runs on the consoles on a high-end 2005 PC, it would have no problem running it. There are huge differences in terms of graphics when you compare Crysis on PC and consoles. You could argue here that the PC would cost much more, and that is true, however with a PC you can also do much more than what you can do with a console.

I kind of agree that the current-gen consoles are more than enough to make a great looking game, but after you play once Crysis on a PC with all details set to ultra, even if you'll play console games after that you will no longer say they look awsome, at least I cannot say that anymore, and I judge them based on gameplay and other features.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mihai Cozma on 21st March 2011 5:04pm

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Supul Jayawardane Freelance Writer/Software Engineer 7 years ago
The current gen PC specs are more than enough because most multi platform games these days are not built with PC in focus. They are made for the consoles and ported to PC. Therefore they are mostly built for console specs which are inferior to current gaming PC specs. Very few games that are optimized for PC look so much better on PC. I played Mass Effect 2 on PC @ 1080p resolution and was very impressed by the clean gfx quality. Then I downloaded the PS3 demo and was immediately turned away by the 720p resolution graphics. They looked so much inferior to the PC version.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 7 years ago
These articles claiming consoles are doomed are getting on my nerves. I agree that they are in a point in their lifecycle where they are static, were current technology has surpassed the specs of consoles, but consoles have a life cycle aprox. of 5 years, with people still using them for another 2 to 5 years, even when new consoles are introduced and thats the advantage consoles have. The big advantage of consoles is that you dont have to spend thousands of dollers if you just want to be a gamer. Nore do you have to upgrade as frequently as on a PC. The other advantage is that even as the technology gets older developers find ways to pump more muscle out of the software. the other advantages, that they are basically plug and play, no sophisticated instalation processes, or plug-ins, or stuff. it makes gaming less of a hurdle. Besides a simple upgrade to a computer, such as graphics card, processor, disc drive, RAM can come out to much more then you would pay for for a console.

I belive Current gen consoles are reaching the end of there life cycle. However they have a year or two left. And even if the games arent on par with latest technology, many games are fun to play, so It doesnt matter.
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Ryan Duclos Code Monkey, Double Cluepon Software7 years ago
This argument is moot. Gamers who are gamers buy games, void of the platform. The hardware is static? Last time I remember it took developers years to completely harness the hardware, example Rogue Galaxy.

Hardware isn't static, we just take to long to figure stuff out ;p
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Christopher Bowen Owner, Gaming Bus 7 years ago
Yeah, sure, if we play Crysis on maximum settings on a maxed-out rig on dual 30" monitors, we'll never be able to look at other games the same. But you know what? That rig just cost you over $2,000, plus the dual monitors. Who the hell wants to spend that kind of money? Even for a system that can do more than just game, that's way too much.

One of the great things about recent years is that the arms race has somewhat slowed down. You no longer need to upgrade your PC to play the newest games within a year of doing the last upgrade. This is mainly because the software has slowed down a bit. That obviously isn't good for companies like nVidia, but it's good for consumers, and I'm glad the market isn't tailored to the hardcore PC gamer anymore for that reason.
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Private Industry 7 years ago
Console version running on a 2005 PC is just theory nothing that can be proved. The fact remains install Crysis 2 on your, hardware wise unchanged, PC from 2005 and it either wouldn`t even boot up or run only at the lowest settings and probably still with a bad frame rate and just look horrible. Console code is highly optimized and you are not going to see that ever on a PC with X amount of GPU`s and CPU`s.

And I played Crysis 1 with very high settings and a God of War 3, Killzone 3 or Uncharted 2 still looks awesome. To do all the stuff a PC can do like video/photo editing or 3D modeling I don`t need a PC that runs Crysis 2 on settings that would look better than console games and cost more than a PS3 on launch day and would have required several upgrades since than. The gameplay is the same so I don`t feel the need to spend a lot of money on a PC just to get some upgraded graphics. Many years ago when Unreal Tournament, Doom and so on where the pinnacle of gaming and most of the games where PC only I had my nice rig and upgraded it frequently to play the latest games with the best quality, now most of it is any multiplatform or even console only. The consumers on PC would profit a lot more if nVidia, ATI and so on would start to only bring out something every 2 years instead of making 20 different cards and cpu`s every year with slightly different clock speed and RAM. A more unified possibility of hardware combination's that allow devs more to optimize the games instead of making it run on 100 graphic cards and 30 CPU`s and get a lot of bugs because of all the different hardware and software combination's that can`t be taken into account.

Regarding mobile phones. Just because you can run in theory a 360 game (they didn`t say what game exactly could be a launch title) doesn`t mean you should. First of all should you really play a complex "core" game on a touch screen where you have to use the display space to display the button icons and have your fingers cut off the size of the screen you see? I want to see the game not my fingers and that`s something Sony actually fixed with touch panel on the back of the NGP. Also as already mentioned battery length, my X10 runs already out of battery every day when I only surf and have wifi activated. So yeah great idea to build in a quad core for gaming, 3DS lasts 3-5 hours and the reports about the NGP say around the same. Who wants a mobile phone that needs to be recharged twice a day? Hardware improves faster than the battery technology at the moment. That`s a huge problem for mobile gaming especially for mobile phones where your device is used not only for games.
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Trevor Johnson Environment Designer, Compulsion7 years ago
I'm a little surprised Nvidia didn't mention anything about supporting OnLive or something. Do those services not need giant rendering houses for that to work, or am i mistaken? Wouldn't that be a cash cow for Nvidia? Or are they already involved in Cloud Gaming and all that jazz?
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Max Priddy7 years ago
To be fair, pc gaming would probably be a lot more popular if companies like nvidia etc. didn't charge people up the ass (lol) when it came to hardware pricing, not to mention tech upgrades are becoming more and more frequent than apple's bi-weekly new iphone releases.
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Tony Johns7 years ago
Comming up into 2011 and we still see XBox360s, PS3s and Wiis on store selves. It was late 2005 when the XBox360 first hit the ground running in this generation of hardware and in 2006 when the Wii and PS3 first launched.

Looking onto e3 and if no hardware company releases plans on the next gen hardware, that would mean that this console generation is going to be the longest running hardware generation since the 8-bit era...but even back then the 8 bit era had the stop-gap of the crash of 1983 and things were not looking good back then.

It would be impossible to think that the next gen consoles would release anytime in 2012 or 2013 unless if one of all 3 hardware manufacturers release information that they are planning for the next gen of hardware.

But even then, I think the console market has been in a strong position and the first time ever there has not been any casualties in the hardware market, all 3 of them have had strong sales from all fronts.

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Ean Miller Studying Journalism, University of Oklahoma7 years ago
I agree that there could be a huge market for high end games on a phone but the first issue to solve before we get there is battery life. Who wants to be able to play this high end game for an hour and have their phone die? Cause the only time I know I would want to really play a mobile game is when I am away from home, hence the name mobile game. Plus the console offers an expeirence that can't be hand on a small 4 or 5 inch touchscreen. I don't believe that the mobile market will ever catch up with the console market for various reasons. But keep your hopes up nvidia.
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Trevor Roberts Studying BSc (Honours) Computing and IT, Open University7 years ago
I will readily admit to not being an advocate of mobile gaming and as such, would disagree with Bea's statement that "[...]Already mobile gaming is hot on the heels of what you would expect from console-class gaming [...] "
There are various reasons why I use a console to game. Perhaps the main reason is that I thoroughly enjoy playing - either the 360 or PS3 - on my HDTV coupled with a decent amplifier and speakers for total immersion. A console is also utilised for media streaming - whether that be images, music or videos - and was a breeze to set up with my Networked Attached Storage device. It is also used as a means of relaxation at home, instead of viewing the drivel that is spewed out by the broadcasting companies.
So my main expectations of console playing would be a large viewing area, excellent audio and graphic capabilities, a decent internet connection and to be capable of streaming media to relax at home. Furthermore, I can communicate with other gamers whilst playing - even if LIVE can have more racial overtones than a KKK rally coupled with more high-pitched voices than a nurserey.

Can mobile gaming offer the same expectations as console gaming? I do not believe this is accurate, at least with my expectations. On a mobile device, there is a small viewing area, poor audio and its internet connection and data rates can also be very poor - although 4G and LTE in particular may offer a solution. It is arguable whether mobile gaming is more suited to casual gaming or gamers. Perhaps it is a time-filler at best - as you commute to and from work as an example?

Although I began gaming on my PC -around the time of UT2K3 - I quickly tired of having to constantly upgrade my video card to wring every last advantage available. Also annoying was the sheer amount of cheaters that would alter a game's configuration file for God-like status or unlimited ammunition etc; So for the foreseeable future, I will happily remain a static console player.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Trevor Roberts on 27th March 2011 2:19pm

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