Mobile phones may soon be more powerful than consoles. But where to plug in the controllers...
According to Tony Tamasi, Senior Vice President of Content & Technology for Nvidia, the next generation of mobile phone graphics processors will outperform those of the PS3 or Xbox 360.
“The PS3 and Xbox 360 are barely more powerful than mobile devices... The next click of mobile phones will outperform [them],”
said Tamasi, referring to the chip generation that will follow the company's current Tegra 4 model, as seen on the upcoming Nvidia Project Shield portable games console.
While it may seem out of this world that a mobile phone chip may have the GPU processing power of a games console, the PS3 and Xbox 360 are positively archaic when it comes to graphics technology with them both sporting chips capable of around 200GFLOPs, which compares to the 4500GFLOPS (4.5TFLOPS) of Nvidia's latest flagship PC graphics card the GeForce Titan, or indeed the 1800GFLOPS (1.8TFLOPS) of the upcoming PS4.
In fact, it would 'only' take a doubling of current performance to get very close to this 200GFLOPS mark, with Nvidia's current flagship mobile chip, Tegra 4, already running at 80GLOPS. And at the current rate of mobile processor advancement this doubling would be far from remarkable – after all, the previous generation, Tegra 3, runs at a mere 12 GLFOPS.
What's more chip design and manufacturing processes have moved on such that the power hit from that level of performance isn't anything like what it used to be so use in portable devices is viable.
However, while it is possible for a mobile processor to have this horsepower in the not too distant future, it's not necessarily the case that we'll see the technology on mobile phones as, even with all the recent enhancements in power consumption reduction, a chip that runs at circa 200GFLOPs is still going to drain a mobile phone size battery very rapidly. Nonetheless, we could certainly see tablets using the device and of course the next generation of Shield (which Nvidia confirmed will be upgraded every year with the latest Tegra chip) will be powered by such a chip - a prospect that certainly piques our interest.