With AMD tech powering the next generation consoles, NVIDIA explains why PC gaming won’t lag behind.
Bennett Ring speaks with NVIDIA’s Senior Vice President of Content and Technology, Tony Tamasi, about the impact the next generation consoles will have on the PC.
PCPP: In the past, when a new console launched, the graphics were on par, if not even better, than a reasonably well-specced PC of the time. Yet at this year’s E3, we noticed that the Xbox One and PS4 demos didn’t look as good as the earlier PC demos of the same games. Do you think the lead that consoles had in the past at launch day is over?
Tamasi: It’s no longer possible for a console to be a better or more capable graphics platform than the PC. 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.
“It’s no longer possible for a console to be a better or more capable graphics platform than the PC”
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.