Nvidia boss: “No longer possible” for consoles to have better graphics than PC

Wednesday, 25 September 2013 05:46 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Consoles will never again launch with better graphics and more power than PCs, according to Nvidia executive Tony Tamasi.

“It’s no longer possible for a console to be a better or more capable graphics platform than the PC,” he told PC PowerPlay.

“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.”

Back when previous generations of consoles launched, Tamasi explained, PC hardware wasn’t designed to the absolutely limits of what is possible at fabrication.

“The PC graphics industry wasn’t operating at the limits of device physics and power. If you wind back the clock, a high-end graphics card at that time was maybe 75W or 100W max. We weren’t building chips that were on the most advanced semiconductor process and were billions of transistors,” he said.

“Now we’re building GPUs at the limits of what’s possible with fabrication techniques. Nobody can build anything bigger or more powerful than what is in the PC at the moment. It just is not possible, but that wasn’t the case in the last generation of consoles. Taken to the theoretical limits, the best any console could ever do would be to ship a console that is equal to the best PC at that time. But then a year later it’s going to be slower, and it still wouldn’t be possible due to the power limits.”

Tamasi has said that Nvidia wasn’t snubbed by Sony and Microsoft, but chose not to be involved in the PS4 and Xbox One because it just wasn’t worth it. He later said that mobiles will out-perform current consoles anyway.

Matt Skynner, vice president of rival AMD, described Tamasi’s attitude as “sour grapes”, and has said partnering with console manufacturers will help AMD win the PC hardware race, too.

Thanks, games.on.net.