Nvidia's Kepler to advance mobile graphics past PS3 next year

The new mobile GPU, Project Logan, is powerful enough to run Epic's Unreal Engine 4

Mobile technology continues to iterate at an incredible pace. Nvidia today revealed at the Siggraph show in Anaheim, California, that its new, next-gen mobile processor, Project Logan, will be shipping in mobile devices during the first half of next year (it will also be intergated into a future version of the Shield handheld). Project Logan's GPU is based on Nvidia's Kepler architecture and "provides full support for the modern GPU feature set found in the latest PC GPUs and upcoming consoles, instead of the incomplete, outdated capabilities of current mobile GPUs."

Nvidia claims that Project Logan with Kepler is 1.6 times more powerful than a PlayStation 3. On top of that, it's far more power efficient than Apple's latest iPad. Nvidia said that the mobile Kepler uses less than one-third the power of iPad 4's GPU while performing the same rendering.

"From a graphics perspective, this is as big a milestone for mobile as the first GPU, GeForce 256, was for the PC when it was introduced 14 years ago," Nvidia boasted.

For developers, Project Logan has support for the full spectrum of OpenGL and DirectX 11, enabling advanced rendering and simulation that wasn't possible on mobile before.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has already announced that his company will support Project Logan with a version of Unreal Engine 4.

"The big news here is Nvidia's support for the OpenGL 4.3 feature set, which brings to mobile devices the same high-end graphics hardware capabilities exposed via DirectX 11 on PC games and on next-generation consoles... More than ever before, we see the opportunity for developers to create high-end games and ship them across multiple platforms on a wide variety of devices, including tablet, smartphone, Windows, Mac, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One," Sweeney said.

At Siggraph, Nvidia showed off its Ira demo, which it unveiled earlier this year for Kepler, now running on a tablet with Project Logan. You can check that video out below.

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Latest comments (11)

Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee7 years ago
Mobile tech is moving fast.

The PowerVR SGX 554 MP4 in the iPad 4 is around 8x as powerful as the Tegra 3 from last year (sure, its a much larger scale architecture but still). Imagine what we can achieve with twice or more power and that's probably possible already, albeit with a little bit of heat...

It will definitely take a feat of engineering to get 1.5x the power of PS3 in a mobile chip but given how far we've come in laptops already and power efficiency thanks to tiny manufacturing processes (curious to see how small this one will be), its possible.
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Peter Bond Studying Art & Design, University of Bedfordshire7 years ago
That's all well and good, but with great power the downfall of any mobile device/s is that it will consume alot battery power - devs of mobile devices should spend more time working on battery life not just graphic chips...
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Private Industry 7 years ago
Mobile CPUs and GPUs are relatively new compared to your CPU and GPU in PC`s and consoles hence currently the curve for improvement is higher similar to how PC hardware has seen in the past bigger increases compared to the increase you see now year over year. Soon this will be slowed down considerably by power consumption and heat production. I don`t know for any of you but if I play something for a longer time my phone get`s rather warm.

When the PS3 launched the graphics chip used wasn`t great and that was in 2006 so honestly it`s not such a big accomplishment to release in 2014 a chip for mobile devices that would be more powerful.
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Show all comments (11)
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee7 years ago

If they manage to consume 1/3 the battery life of their biggest rival, I guess we can commend that. Both performance and power efficiency are improving in this area, the smaller the chips get. Not all mobile chips go for the highest end either, there are still lite versions and more modest designs still being implemented.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 25th July 2013 9:34am

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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 7 years ago
PS3 RSX was a 90 nm device. We are now into the age of 14nm fabrication. Each halving in transistor size divides power usage by 4, all other factors remaining equal.

Which in my simple maths means that like for like power consumption would be something in the order of a fiftieth.
But there have been other architectural improvements in this time, so the real reduction will be far more.
For instance mobile processors have sleep modes and variable clock speeds so they only use electricity to deliver the processing power that is demanded.

The problem for consoles is that their specification is frozen for a long time with each generation. So they rapidly become technically obsolete.
Mobile phones and tablets tend to have annual upgrades so are at the bleeding edge of technology. Also they have been beating Moore's law by some margin. The increase in processing and graphics power has been spectacular.

Note: Moore's law is the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years.
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Keldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development7 years ago
@Bruce: mobile technology entered the market at a massive developmental deficit so naturally you are going to see it improve much much more rapidly.

Consoles have always been frozen for a long time versus PC which, like the mobile phone sees regular iterations. Nothing new here! And by the way it has never been a problem either. Only they do not become obsolete, just beaten in power by a custom PC build.

No matter what happens, console GPU's can run much much hotter and belch out as much power and electricity as it possibly can because it is not mobile and therefore can have large and powerful fans with cooling technology that is not available to mobile devices sucking copious amounts of kilojoules from the mains supply. So that "problem" you mentioned is not a problem unless the next generation skimps heavily on power and is reachable by mobile technology within a significant period of its lifetime.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 25th July 2013 9:14am

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John Donnelly Quality Assurance 7 years ago
The chips may be getting better but battery life is crap.

They need better battery/power efficiency not just headline grabbing stats to impress me.
I miss my old nokia battery life, charge it once a week and away you go.
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Oscar Escamilla Perez Game Designer 7 years ago
It's impressive, but I can't see where this arms race is going on the mobile space. I don't see any visually intensive game on the top ten earning ranking in Itunes or Android, and while some interesting titles appear from time to time, it is difficult to reason that this new technology is going to bring PS3-like quality games to the mobile space. They are too expensive to develop for the dominant F2P model. I think this is just to support the relentless release pace of the mobile device development companies,

Faster, bigger screen, more ram!!! Cool, but what about an ecosystem where powerful titles can succeed along the likes of Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans?
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Saehoon Lee Founder & CEO, Pixellore7 years ago
When I speak to people at Samsung about why GPU power isn't increasing proportional to the display pixel sizes, they say it's got to do with the battery life. I am sure it is possible to have better GPU But the mobile device is limited by its battery life as well as heat it generates. Also the later gen pads seems to have very high resolution display but again , limited bandwidth make things difficult when it comes to developing graphic intensive games.

Yes, smaller chips may generate less heat and consume less power, but will the advance in battery technology can cope with the increased demand? Time will tell, but I still think that the one of the most bottleneck factor in the mobile space is the battery technology.

But then again, we (human) are very good at over coming the problems so my hope is high.
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its impressive, but as others have stated in the mobile space, one has to balance, heat, and battery and so forth. At some point graphics isnt priority number one on a small screen. Graphics on a 72" TV becomes much more an issue, so of course for consoles and so forth graphics are much more important.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 26th July 2013 3:06am

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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee7 years ago
I think there are a few points I would like to pick up on...

On why its impressive:

The GPU claims to be using the same architectural basis as the latest DX11 and OpenGL 4.3 parts on the desktops and in next gen consoles. The performance bar will be lower but its a HUGE leap for mobile graphics technology beyond what some would expect, even if from nVIDIA where just recently chips were derived from ideas in the old GeforceFX and Geforce 6800, possessing very few fixed shader pipelines and less than a handful of texture units amongst other things...

On battery life:

Chips next year will be as much as a quarter the size of chips this year or less. For every reduction in the size of the process, we're getting a die less than half the size of the one before.

Battery life and heat is the big issue for mobile, but the fact the chips are smaller is supposed to reduce this problem and at the least put the battery life on a level playing field. We could go on with the same lithium batteries for a long time and still find gains in power efficiency.

The device with 8x the power of the one I mentioned in my opening comment has amazing battery life despite the insane performance and screen resolution.

The same ideas apply to consoles and why something like the WiiU can use less than half the power of the 360 and PS3. And why PS4/XBO will be so ecological.. And stable.

On necessity:

Depends on the device and needs. Graphical power can reach saturation point on any platform, PC or Mobile. Some of this is facilitating displays anywhere between 1 and 4 megapixels in resolution, the bigger, the greater demand and performance has to keep up. Some of this performance facilitates a move into sophisticated gaming applications and some of it is just a natural evolution of the technology out there.

If you can get faster, cooler, more efficient chips every year, no one loses out. And there will always be a choice of more modest devices and more powerful ones depending on your needs. Handhelds should see the same rates of improvement that laptops and PCs do at the very least and it all goes towards a better experience, even if that's finding as little lag and latency as possible.
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